Oilers Captain Andrew Ference suffered a concussion on March 23, in a game against the Winnipeg Jets. He played just 2:27 before missing the remainder of that game. He has not played since, as it has been a long road to recovery. But he may be out of the worst part, speaking to the media about his health on Sunday.
“It’s coming along,” said Ference. “I’ve been lucky in my career, I think this is only my second, questionably third, concussion. They’re difficult. For about two weeks, you get that feeling like you’ve been on a fishing boat for eight hours and you come off and you just get a rocking (feeling). The balance and stuff like that is messed up. If you’ve never had one before it’s kind of hard to explain. It’s kind of a mix between coming off a boat and being hungover and it doesn’t go away. Luckily, over the last couple of days it’s been good. I was able to skate quite a bit, just to measure if it’d get worse from activity and it’s coming along just fine.”
Ference spoke about the protocol the NHL has for dealing with concussions, saying there has been progress since he came into the league during the 1990-2000 season, and even just over the last few years.
“There are two ways to look at it. It’s scary when you feel that way, but it’s also amazing the difference that four or five or six years makes with the way that they handle them as well,” he said. “Earlier in my career, there’s no way that a trainer would have held you back to say, ‘slow down, take your time and make sure we’re doing this the right way.’ Now, any symptoms whatsoever and they’re holding you out and making sure that you’re back to 100%. The progress is there and I think that’s the important thing. As far as prevention and the rules and trying to do it, it’s tough. When it does happen, getting the full recovery from doctors and trainers and making sure that the clubs are taking care of it, that message has obviously gotten through and they’re doing as good a job as they can with it. That’s progress.”
Ference, 36, has played in 901 NHL games over the course of his career for the Penguins, Flames, Bruins and Oilers. He played 70 games this season, scoring three goals and adding 11 assists and 39 penalty minutes.
Matt Hendricks is skating with the team.
Gazdic-Hendricks-Klinkhammer (Hamilton rotating)
The Edmonton Oilers announced today they have assigned goaltender Laurent Brossoit to the American Hockey League's Oklahoma City Barons.
Brossoit, 22, made his National Hockey League debut on April 9th against the San Jose Sharks, stopping 49 of 51 shots. His 49 saves were the most in a debut since Manny Legace made 49 saves on October 21, 1998.
The 6’3”, 202-pound netminder has appeared in 49 games for Oklahoma City this season, posting a 22-21-4 record with a 2.65 goals against average, a .916 save percentage and two shutouts.
The Oilers also announced they have activated goaltender Viktor Fasth from the injured reserve list.
Oklahoma City Barons defenceman Brad Hunt has been named a First Team AHL All Star, the league announced today.
Hunt has tallied 48 points in 57 games for OKC this season, good for second in the league among defencemen. He has played 11 games this season for the Oilers, scoring a goal and adding two assists.
When he was assigned to OKC in November, Hunt quickly amassed 15 points in his first eight games. His 17 goals this season in the AHL are more than he had in 145 previous AHL games.
The 26-year-old defenceman was a Second Team All-Star selection last season. He played in his second career AHL All-Star Classic in January.
VIDEO: RAW: Todd Nelson | RAW: Brandon Davidson | RAW: Justin Schultz
AUDIO: Todd Nelson | Justin Schultz | Brandon Davidson
Gazdic & Klinkhammer (Hendricks is absent)
Mark Fayne is participating and rotating in.
Laurent Brossoit is set to make his first start at the NHL level tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks. The 22-year-old is the Oilers top goalie prospect. He was acquired in a trade on November 8, 2013, which sent Olivier Roy and Ladislav Smid to the Calgary Flames in exchange for the young goaltender and Roman Horak.
Brossoit has been recalled on emergency basis with Richard Bachman being returned to Oklahoma City on loan to join his wife, as they are expecting their first child.
Brossoit had a standout season for the Bakersfield Condors in the ECHL last year, playing 35 games (24-9-2) and posting a 2.15 GAA and .923 save percentage to go along with six shutouts. He also played 16 playoff games for Bakersfield, finishing with a 10-6 record, a .921 save percentage and 2.27 GAA.
Coming up to the AHL, it took time for him to adjust. However, he seems to be progressing nicely now with an increased workload.
“With his progression, last year he had a really good year down in the ECHL and he’s done the same thing coming up in the American League. As I mentioned before, he was a bit inconsistent just as every young goalie is getting their feet wet,” said Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson. “Lately, he’s been controlling his play, he’s been very efficient in net and his progression has been great. He was thrown into a position where he had to play all those games, but that’s great because he got a wealth of experience and I think it’s going to help him tomorrow night.”
With injuries to the big club and Bachman being recalled, Brossoit became the workhorse down in OKC. He has started 25 straight games heading into this call-up. Over the course of that stretch, he has a 2.70 GAA and .915 save percentage. He has averaged 30.68 saves per game in that time.
“It was a very heavy workload for him,” said Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson. “When you play back to backs and three in threes, it takes its toll on everybody, but especially goalies. He’s a big, strong guy, he’s very athletic and he handled it fine. I know for a fact that he’ll be very excited to play tomorrow.”
The Oilers used the 48th overall pick in 2010 to select Curtis Hamilton from the Saskatoon Blades. Hamilton is now expected to make his NHL debut on Thursday, after being recalled from Oklahoma City on emergency basis. Matt Hendricks got a bit “banged up” on Tuesday night against Los Angeles and is “very unlikely” to play.
Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson is very familiar with Hamilton, having coached him for three full seasons and the first half of this year down in the American Hockey League.
“He’s a player that I’ve seen quite a bit of over the last four years,” said Nelson. “He’s matured into a player where he feels more comfortable on the ice. He’s a big body out there, he can play a physical brand and I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence this season. He had a pretty good experience over at the Spengler (Cup), so he’s doing a lot of good things. He got a bit banged up in February, but he’s been playing well as of late and he’s earned his opportunity to come up here and play.”
Hamilton is playing some of his best professional hockey to date, blowing away his previous career high in points with 29 in 60 games this season. That includes 12 goals and 17 assists, also career highs. The 23-year-old winger is 6-foot-3 and over 200 pounds.
The final 2015 NHL Central Scouting rankings have been released and it is no surprise to see who is at the top of the list. Erie’s Connor McDavid and Boston University’s Jack Eichel take the top two spots.
McDavid is regarded as the top NHL Draft prospect since Sidney Crosby was taken by the Penguins, first overall in 2005. Eichel is the Hockey East Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year and Tournament MVP. He is one of the top three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.
6-foot-3, 203-pound Boston College defenceman Noah Hannifan is third on the list. Erie’s Dylan Strome and Kingston’s Lawson Crouse swapped places from the midterm rankings to round out the top five.
London Knights centre Mitchell Marner came in sixth in the final rankings, jumping from seventh in the midterm.
Click here for the full rankings.
It has been an emotional week for Oilers goaltender Richard Bachman, who left the team to mourn the loss of his brother. Upon his return, Bachman made 25 saves in a 4-2 win over Los Angeles, his third-straight victory.
“What do you say? Everyone has lost a family member. It’s not easy, and how he came in here, was professional about everything and showed up to the rink, you can’t say enough about the guy and his performance today,” said Oilers winger Matt Fraser, who scored twice in the win. “Obviously, you take your time to mourn or whatever, but he wanted to be back here and we’re glad to have him back.”
“Absolutely,” said winger Tyler Pitlick on if he thought the team was playing for Bachman. “Everyone knows how tough it has been for him. To come back like that so quick, we just wanted to play hard for him. I think it was huge for him to have that good game.”
Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson says that Luke Gazdic gave the goaltender the game puck following the victory.
“I was proud of the way the guys played, the way they helped me out tonight. It was nice,” said Bachman. “Especially, with not playing in a week and having pretty much one practice before doing that. So I was super proud of the guys and their effort. I thought they did a great job of matching the physicality of a big LA team. I thought it was great.”
But those youthful blueliners did just fine against the physical Kings, helping the Oilers skate to a 4-2 victory. Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said he thought they played, “outstanding.”
“I liked the battle,” said Nelson. “I liked the way that the big guys back there battled hard. Musil was strong. Everyone of them. Justin Schultz was battling, and it was a situation where our young D made it very difficult to maybe penetrate the net. We talked about winning battles in the corners and we did a great job. All six guys battled hard tonight.”