The Edmonton Oilers weighed in at training camp on Thursday and there were a few noticeable changes to some of the players.
Defenceman Martin Marincin, who said it was his goal to beef up this off-season, weighed in at 203 pounds. That is 15 pounds heavier than the 188 he was last year.
An updated list of heights and weights is available on the Oilers roster on edmontonoilers.com.
The Edmonton Oilers head into training camp with uncertainty at a couple of positions. An influx of depth and talent, as well as exits by some players has created position battles.
“We expect there to be some battling at camp,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “Obviously, there’s going to be some battle down the middle. We have two NHL centremen right now and I have know idea who the other ones will be. That will be for the players to decide.”
The battle at centre will feature third-overall pick Leon Draisaitl, as well as players like Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander and prospects like Jujhar Khaira and Bogdan Yakimov. Centre isn’t the only position where Eakins sees a competition.
The additions of defencemen such as Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin and Keith Aulie, along with prospects like 2013 seventh-overall pick Darnell Nurse, 2011 19th-overall pick Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin make for an interesting competition.
“We’re obviously going to have a battle on defence. We’ve got some guys that played some games in the NHL last year, we’ve upgraded our D with what I call ‘full-time NHL defencemen’ so there will be a battle going on there. There will also be a spot or two open on the wing we believe. It can only be one. When there is only one spot open, that usually creates a great competition with our players.”
When Taylor Hall was selected first overall in 2010, it was expected he would become the face of the franchise. Since then, the 22-year-old has watched as teammates have left and the roster has changed dramatically.
There may have never been an official changing of the guard, but it looks like the 2014-15 Oilers are even more in the hands of Hall and his fellow young stars than they have ever been.
“There’s never been an official changing of the guard but it seems every year we come in with more pressure on players like myself and I think that’s a good thing,” Hall said. “As you get older and more mature you learn how to deal with that and you learn who to listen to and who not to listen to and those type of things. Having a more relaxed and more calm, confident mindset coming into camp I think is going to benefit our team a lot more. Trying to exceed expectations instead of living up to them is a good mantra for our team.”
The 22-year-old Taylor Hall is coming off his best season offensively, with 80 points (27-53-80). Hall says his main focus going into camp this year is his defensive play. Should he become even more of a complete player, that’s scary for opponents.
When asked if he is ahead of where he was defensively to start the season last year, Hall didn’t know. However, he says it is on his radar to improve in that category.
“I haven’t played any games yet so I think time will tell, but that’s definitely been a bigger focus of mine this year coming into camp,” he said. “Maybe in past years I’ve been looking forward to getting points and stuff. I want to round out my game as best I can so that from the start of the year I don’t have any glaring deficiencies and I’m helping out my team the best I can.”
Nail Yakupov is one of the players the Oilers will want to take his play to the next level if they want to have a successful season. After some adversity last season, Yakupov is ready to turn the page and put the past in the past.
The Oilers winger brought up the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and how they put the past behind them and just focus on the year ahead. Yakupov wants the Oilers to do the same.
“You’ve got to be positive this year, because if you’re going to think about all of the negative from last year I don’t think that’s good,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you did not make the playoffs or if you won the Stanley Cup like Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure they forgot about last season and they forgot that they want to win the Stanley Cup. They just want to improve on things and try to win another one. As an Oiler, as a team and as our teammates I am pretty sure we want to be in the playoffs first and then fight for a Stanley Cup. We have to stay positive and not think about last year and what place we were. Let’s start from a new page.”
The Oilers added Teddy Purcell this off-season, along with Niktita Nikitin, Mark Fayne, Benoit Pouliot and Keith Aulie. Purcell says he expects that group to come in and help the Oilers be more competitive, though they alone are not there to save the day.
“We’re not going to come in and save the day but I think we’re going to add some good depth,” Purcell said. “Everyone knows this is a very tough conference and our opponents are all big-bodied guys that I think wear teams down pretty well. We have the skill to compete with those guys, where I think if we add the depth that we did and a bit of size that it will help us in the long run.”
Purcell says he senses that the young, talented players in the locker room are hungry and ready to stop losing and start winning. Purcell hopes the new faces in the locker room can help with that.
“Those top guys have been in the league a little bit. I think they’re becoming hungrier and they’re ready to prove that they’re the guys to take this team to the next level. I think with some fresh faces around the room it brings in some energy and everyone comes into camp refreshed, especially after a long summer that these guys had. The mood around the room is good and hopefully we can keep that going forward heading into camp.”
“That’s not really my problem to worry about how people want to label us,” Scrivens said. “Whether we are a tandem that switches back and forth or one of us takes the reins and runs with it, that’s going to be a decision for the coaching staff. But I don’t think the team is going to care who is in as long as we are giving the team a chance to win. That’s the biggest thing, not being a liability when either one of us is in net. However it shakes out that it happens we need to give this team good goaltending.”
Oilers David Perron is listed as the right winger on a line with Benoit Pouliot and Leon Draisaitl to start camp. Perron was asked about switching over to the right side and he says it is something he is familiar with, and he’s willing to do whatever is asked of him to contribute.
“I’ve always kind of preferred the left side but I’ve had success both sides,” Perron said. “I think one of my strengths, and what Dallas liked about me last year, was I could move from the first to second to third line and try to contribute and that’s what I’m going to be looking to do again this year.”
Perron gets an opportunity to skate with the third-overall pick in this year’s draft. He says he is not too familiar with Draisaitl but knows the big centre’s playmaking potential.
“I haven’t really seen him. All I’ve heard is about his playmaking skills obviously and how big he is. It looks like I will be starting with him for camp and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to do. I’ve heard that he’s a hard worker and as long as he’s doing that, I’m sure he’s going to be fine.”
Jordan Eberle is an offensive weapon for the Oilers. The winger is coming off of a 65-point season (28-37-65) but he sees room for improvement.
The Oilers are hoping for Eberle to take it to the next level and he not only understands that but he respects it. Eberle says as if the team is going to be more competitive, players like himself need to take the next step.
“We touched on it at the end of the year last year,” Eberle said. “I’ve definitely shown I can be a dominant player in this league. I think with the team we have now, with the talent and depth-wise, I think that’s only going to help individually. That being said, I think I still have another level to reach.
“I’m still a young player, I’ve shown I can do it but it’s just doing it on a consistent basis. I think I made strides in becoming a better player last year especially. Obviously, they need more out of me production-wise and defensively if this team is going to do well. I think for this team to take the next step, obviously I have to do the same thing.”
The Edmonton Oilers will skate in three different groups when they open on-ice training camp tomorrow morning.
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford