INSIDE THE OILERS
POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 1:40 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

With all of the pre-draft speculation and rumours swirling around, Aaron Ekblad’s head must be spinning. But the top-rated defenceman has developed a great way of dealing with all of the talk.

“With how much rumours that have been going around about what Florida is going to do, what is everyone going to do, it’s easy to get caught up in it but it’s a lot easier to take a step back and not worry about it,” Ekblad said. “It’s out of your control. You just have to wait and rely on how well you’ve shown yourself this year. That’s kind of where I’m at. I’m excited and I’m anxious about it but I don’t want to worry about it too much.”

The Oilers are sitting at third overall in the first round of the draft. It is not expected that Ekblad will be around when they make their selection. But they’ve done their homework on the superb prospect and after meeting with the organization, Ekblad is sold that the Oilers would be a fit.

“I love the rink that they have right now, I love that there is going to be a new one, the dressing room and some of the players that they have. It’s all great,” he said. “They have a great organization, a great owner and a great coaching staff. I met just about every one of the Oilers staff members, even away from the rink. If I end up there then that’s awesome and I’d make the best of it. I think I’d fit in to their defensive core pretty well. Whatever happens happens and I’m excited to go anywhere and I’m ready to play anywhere.”

|
|
|
POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 1:03 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers currently hold the third overall pick in the draft. Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson told Oilers Now’s Bob Stauffer on Wednesday that the team is comfortable remaining in that spot, but wouldn’t rule out movement.

“I think we’re pretty comfortable with where we’re at,” Howson said. “Obviously you never close the door on anything. Getting up to the one position would be beneficial but our needs are really defence and centre is just as important as defence. We were just talking today about how hard it is to get centres now. Once they become established in the NHL they don’t become available. We’re comfortable with where we’re at. I think this is a good draft, we’re in a good spot and no matter what happens on Friday we are going to get a good player.”

|
|
|
POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 1:01 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers acquired the rights to defenceman Nikita Nikitin from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The acquisition gives them a “quality NHL defenceman” in the words of Oilers Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson.

Howson told Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer on Wednesday that the team won’t stop with Nikitin. They want to help bridge the gap as the Oilers have several very talented youngsters on the blue line that could use some more time to develop. Now that Nikitin is in the mix, Howson says the team will look to add one more.

“We figured we had four legitimate NHL defencemen going into camp in Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin,” Howson said. “Martin still has a little bit to prove because he only did it for half a season and we’ve seen lots of players have initial success and take a fall back. There’s no doubt he’s going to be an NHL player, whether he’s ready to continue what he accomplished last year remains to be seen and we’ll see that in camp. We’re going to try to get another NHL defenceman. Nikita gives us five, if you include Marincin, and we’ll try to get another one, that’s six. Then if the kids are ready, that’s the great thing about the NHL. If a young player is ready to play and he shows he is ready to play then teams make room for him. That’s just the way the league works.”

As for what the Oilers are looking for in their next addition, Howson says they’re looking at all of the options.

“I think we’re open to anything. We want a good player and Nikita is a good player. We’re targeting three or four other good players. Some are more defensive oriented, some are sort of all around guys so there is no specific criteria they have to meet, we just want a good NHL player.”

|
|
|
POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 1:00 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Not many people would know Nikita Nikitin better than Oilers Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson. He was the general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets when they acquired Niktin in a trade with the St. Louis Blues in 2011. Now the two will be reunited as the Oilers have traded for Nikitin’s rights.

When Nikitin first got to Columbus, he played a big role on the team. But with the Blue Jackets defence getting better and better his role was reduced.

“We needed some size and he came in and played really well, the time I was in Columbus,” Howson told Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer. “He can play the right side, he’s a big body and he’s got a great shot. His play has fallen off a little bit. I think his role fell off a little bit in Columbus because they have a pretty strong defence.

“His role was certainly reduced. We just saw this as an opportunity to add a quality NHL defenceman to our group.”

Now Nikitin will be given an opportunity to move back up a depth chart, this time in Edmonton.

“I see him playing in a top-four role,” Howson said. “He’ll play a little bit of power play, probably second unit. He’s got a great shot and he’ll kill penalties. He can play really anywhere in your 1-6 spots. We’ll probably use him in 1-4, or he’ll be given that opportunity initially. There’s no concern on my part but he still has to do it.”

|
|
|
POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 9:30 AM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
MULTIMEDIA

The Edmonton Oilers have acquired the rights to defenceman Nikita Nikitin from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 5th round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Nikitin, 28, has spent four seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets. His best point production came in the 2011-12 season, when he posted 32 (7-25-32) in 54 games with Columbus after being acquired in a trade from St. Louis.

His is a 6-foot-4, 223 pounder from Omsk, Russia and was the 136th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

|
|
|
POSTED ON Monday, 23.06.2014 / 5:53 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Former Oilers Assistant Coach Steve Smith has agreed to terms with the Carolina Hurricanes to join the organization in the same capacity. Smith had served as assistant coach for the Oilers for the past four seasons.

He joins former Oilers Assistant General Manager Ricky Olczyk, who was hired by the Canes this month.

|
|
|
POSTED ON Monday, 23.06.2014 / 12:09 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

41 players have been invited to Canada’s national junior team summer development camp and two Oilers prospects are among the chosen ones. The two are Darnell Nurse, the seventh overall pick last year, and forward Greg Chase (7th round, 188th overall last year).

Nurse is coming off a season with his best point production as the defenceman scored 50 (13-37-50) in 64 games with Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL. Nurse made his pro hockey debut with the Oklahoma City Barons at the end of the regular season.

Chase posted 85 points (35-50-85) with the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL this season. He too joined Nurse with the Barons and scored a goal in his first professional game.

Some top NHL Draft prospects are on the camp roster as well. The expected number one overall pick Aaron Ekblad is joined by fellow top defencemen Haydn Fleury, Roland McKeown and Travis Sanheim.

Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Michael Dal Colle, Robby Fabbri, Brendan Perlini, Brayden Point, Nick Ritchie and Jake Virtanen round out the list of forwards who made the camp roster who are potential first round picks this year.

Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar is also invited to the camp.

|
|
|
POSTED ON Tuesday, 17.06.2014 / 5:46 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke with Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now this afternoon and discussed what he sees are some of the team’s needs heading into the off-season.

MacTavish says he could see the team adding four or five new additions for next season.

“I’ve talked a bit about a puck-moving defenceman, they’re very difficult to find,” MacTavish said. “Certainly, there are a few available at various levels. We need that, in our organization’s estimation. I think that we could use a guy that’s a real, solid shut-down defender that has that bite. I know we have some guys who really fit that bill on the horizon but we don’t want to be forced to bring our young defencemen into a situation that they’re currently not capable of handling and excelling in. We’ve talked about that a lot, giving the players time to mature and develop physically and mentally so that when they do step into the NHL they’re ready to have success. We need some experience up front. We need some guys that can help round out our top three lines and that’s what we’re basically looking to do.”

MacTavish said the team will be looking to bring in the pieces to allow players like Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks to slide down the lineup, while adding more offence to the top three lines.

“I think that’s the model that we’re ultimately trying to piece together where we have a fourth line that would have lots of defensive zone starts and be able to play against anybody and then have three lines that are able to have success offensively.”

|
|
|
POSTED ON Tuesday, 17.06.2014 / 5:46 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish was on Oilers Now this afternoon to discuss the upcoming draft, free agency and the state of the team. MacTavish commented on the Oilers recent hiring of long-time NHL coach Craig Ramsay as Assistant Coach.

“He’s a guy that I really think that’s going to add an element to our coaching staff,” MacTavish told Bob Stauffer. “He’s going to bring a new perspective. In my discussions with Craig, he’s a very cerebral guy about the game. He’s got a wealth of experience. He’s put a lot of thought in the game and how it should be played. He’s got a good balance on teaching the game, how much the players are capable of taking in and comprehending at one time and what’s realistic, how you present the information to the players, a good balance of enjoying yourself in the dressing room and the intense pressures that the players have today, especially in our market.

“I think he’s going to lend a real fresh perspective there. He’s a guy who Dallas is going to charge with helping out our power play and I think that’s going to help. He’s got a ton of experience and we welcome that perspective that he’s going to bring and I think he’s going to have a significant impact. Having said that, we need to do a good job of bringing in some personnel that has the ability to have much greater success.”

|
|
|
POSTED ON Tuesday, 17.06.2014 / 5:45 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers will be looking to add some pieces to supplement their youthful core this season. Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish will be the director behind all of those moves and was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer this afternoon to discuss those topics.

Looking ahead to potential trades, the Oilers may be more willing to take on salary to off-set some of the assets they would have to part with to add a player. He said, “that’s a scenario I think has some attractiveness to us.”

MacTavish also says that in addition to trades the Oilers will be involved in the free agency market. Although you don’t want to rely on free agency, there are some players available who could help fill holes in the lineup.

“The UFA market is a fickle market. Statistically 80% of the transactions in the UFA market are poor transactions. But it’s a good way to augment your lineup if we can add the right pieces. We’re really in a position where we’re looking for secondary pieces and we’re pretty comfortable with our primary pieces up front. We’re looking to add support to our primary pieces that are currently in place.”

Don’t expect the Oilers just to be comfortable with the middle-tier free agents. They will make calls on the top guys as well, even just to do their homework.

“We’ll be chasing some of the higher end guys too. To what extent remains to be seen but we’ll be in those discussions.”

|
|
|
INSIDE THE OILERS