“They skated with us today. There was no contact but it was good to see them on the ice practicing with us. They’re still both a ways away but it’s one of those things where we’ll take it day-by-day with both guys and see how they feel and how they respond after skating with us,” Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson stated, adding with Pitlick's injury being a lacerated spleen they need to be more cautious.
“It’s a process with him. It’s good to see him on the ice skating and we’ll see if it’s mending properly then we’ll go from there,” Nelson continued. “He just needs to try and stay in the best shape possible. He had limited activity right after the injury. But he looked good out there today and it looks like he’s been doing stuff in the gym to maintain his physical fitness.”
Pitlick added that he has been feeling much better and was glad to finally get on the ice with his teammates.
“Everything’s been feeling good. I haven’t been in any pain in awhile so that part’s going good. I’ve been getting on the ice. Today’s my first practice with the team. I’ve got to wait for my next scan, wait for word that everything is healed up and then start taking my next contact.”
Pitlick is hopeful to join the team for their upcoming five-game road trip in early March.
“We’re trying to push it up to March 3. So hopefully I can get that scan, go on the road with the guys, do some practices and then by the time we get back from the road maybe get in a game,” Pitlick remarked, adding he's been experiencing some cabin fever wanting to get back out there.
“There’s not much you can do for a month. I pretty much sat on the couch and watched TV for a month straight and then started walking on the treadmill a little bit, just easing into it. It’s been boring. I haven’t had much to do. It’s not like a knee where you’re on the table, doing some exercises or getting work done. There’s not much you can do except rest.”
Pitlick said that at first, he didn't feel anything after a collision with Lance Bouma lacerated his spleen.
“I knew it was a big collision right away because I felt the impact,” he said. “It really didn’t hurt that bad initially. I just kind of felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I kept skating and had a few more shifts. I felt all right. I just felt like I had something in my stomach. I finished the game and afterwards I went in the training room and got ice for my shoulder. Wasn’t really thinking about my stomach but just kind of asked about it. They checked it out and there was some tenderness there so they wanted to make sure everything was all right before I got on the plane.
“It’s a good thing they did because as soon as we got in the cab and headed to the hospital, the pain escalated. It’s a good thing they caught it and I wasn’t on the plane when that happened.”
PETRY ALMOST READY
Jeff Petry skated again with the team and said he felt like he could be ready to go tomorrow when the Oilers meet the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m hoping to be in the lineup against Minny. It was just a shot to the ribs, nothing was broken. Just bruised. It’s pretty sore to rotate but every day’s gotten a lot better and I didn’t have any issues today.”
Coach Nelson did add that the team did not have any further updates on Anton Lander's shoulder injury.
Nail Yakupov got hurt last game but played the entire contest. Today, he started practice but left early. Coach Nelson said that him leaving practice was precautionary and he will travel with the team to Minnesota.
“Last game he tweaked something. He got through the game but we just shut him down (today) for precautionary reasons. He’s making the trip and we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Tyler Pitlick and Nikita Nikitin are both on the ice (in yellow non-contact jerseys), skating with the team for the first time since suffering their respective injuries.
Line combinations up front are:
22-year-old defenceman Jordan Oesterle made his NHL debut tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. The significance of the moment hit him when he lined up for a faceoff early in the game.
“It was on a faceoff,” Oesterle said. “I looked over and there was Corey Perry just standing next to me and I was just like, ‘wow.’”
Oesterle played 16:34 for the game, paired with Andrew Ference.
“I was really nervous at the beginning but I took a short shift at the beginning and got the nerves out of there. But Ference really helped me by communicating a lot to me and made my game pretty easy,” Oesterle said.
Oesterle may have been nervous, but he made an impression on Interim Coach Todd Nelson, who also coached the blueliner in Oklahoma City.
“He was excellent,” Nelson said. “I thought for a guy coming in for his first hockey game in the National Hockey League he was really good. He moved his feet, he made some really good decisions with the puck, he handled himself fine in the corners. I think for a first game for a young defenceman, that was a nice game for him.”
He’s been touted for his high-end skating abilities and puck-moving prowess, but even Ference was surprised at how much the rookie wanted the puck.
“Really, really good,” Ference said of his defensive partner’s debut. “He had great composure, fantastic skating ability, he was so calm. I still remember my first game when I didn’t want to touch the puck and he’s handling it and skating up the ice real well, making great plays. Very impressive.”
The Oilers will ice a different lineup tonight against the Ducks than they did last night in a 4-0 loss to the Wild.
“I think anytime a player plays their first game, it’s an exciting time,” Nelson said. “We’re facing a very good hockey team and it’s going to be a great challenge for him. But he’s a guy who can skate very well, he moves the puck well and I’m very excited to watch him play tonight.”
The line combinations are expected as follows:
Ben Scrivens will start in net for the Oilers.
The defensive pairings are expected to be:
The Oilers announced a one-year contract extension for Rob Klinkhammer on Friday morning. The 28-year-old winger and Lethbridge, Alberta native has meshed well on a line with Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks. Since being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade on January 2, Klinkhammer has been more than satisfied with his time in Edmonton.
“It’s gone really well here,” Klinkhammer said. “I really enjoy the guys, I like the staff, top to bottom everyone has been great. I like my role here, I think I’ve got good chemistry with my linemates. I like the responsibility that we have so I love it. I signed a one-year extension with them and I’m really happy with the steps the team is taking. I want to be a part of this rebuild and help the team go in the right direction.”
General Manager Craig MacTavish gave his assessment of Klinkhammer on Friday, saying that he gives the Oilers a solid fourth line moving into next season.
“I just think that he came in and played a role that we needed,” MacTavish said. “He meshed well with Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon, which gives us a real good fourth line going into next year. He closed gaps very quickly, he finished every check. So the focus will be on Rob to continue to play the game that way and add some impetuous to our forechecking ability, and he did that. So we wanted to bring him back and put him back in that role and give him that opportunity next year.”
Klinkhammer combines surprising speed with his 6-foot-3, 214-pound frame to provide physicality and aggression on the forecheck. In 157 NHL games, Klinkhammer has 41 points (20-21-41).
Jeff Petry is maybe the Oilers most high-profile pending free agent. The 27-year-old defenceman has shown steady growth over the last six weeks or so, and with the trade deadline approaching the Oilers have a decision to make.
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said today that they’re in conversations with Petry’s camp on a new contract.
“I’ll just say this about Jeff, we really challenged him on a one-year contract and he’s clearly met that challenge. His game is at a level I think right now that it hasn’t been at before and I give Jeff a lot of credit for that,” MacTavish said. “As for a contract or what the course of action is going forward, I’ve had many conversations over the last four weeks with Wade Arnott, Jeff’s representative, as you might imagine and they’ve all been constructive conversations but I’m just going to leave it at that and we’ll see what happens going forward.”
Petry also acknowledge the two sides are talking, but gave no further update on progress.
“They’ve had some communication and talks have started and that’s all I can really say at the moment,” Petry said.
“Edmonton has been great to me. Both sides are going to communicate here for the next little bit and see if we can’t find something that works best for both sides.”
Petry was taken in the second round, 46th overall, of the 2006 NHL Draft. He has 294 NHL games under his belt with 17 goals and 74 points. He will not play tonight against the Minnesota Wild as he nurses a rib ailment.
The Oilers acquired Derek Roy in a trade with Nashville on December 29. Since that day, Roy has 12 points (5-7-12) in 23 games for Edmonton, and has made even more of an impact off the stat sheet when it comes to his experience, leadership and positive effect on Nail Yakupov.
The pending 31-year-old unrestricted free agent’s status with the Oilers in the future is unclear, but General Manager Craig MacTavish says they’ll begin conversations with his representation.
“I think with Derek, we’re in the process of reaching out to him to see what his feeling is in terms of getting into a relationship with us going forward,” MacTavish said after morning skate at Rexall Place. “I think that’s something where there will be some things that will impact that relationship going forward. I think as good of a job as Derek has done and as much as he’s fit in well here, that will be something that will be done at the end of the year.”
When it comes to the looming trade deadline on March 2, MacTavish indicated it was unlikely the Oilers would look to move Roy for just any compensation. They value his chemistry with Yakupov and how he’s helped with the young winger’s development, as well as what he brings to the locker room.
“In my mind, we wouldn’t trade Derek for a superficial asset,” MacTavish said. “I think it’s very unlikely that he’ll be moved because of the fact that we have considerable interest in him longer term and he has meshed well with Yak and his development and that’s very important to us and the hockey club going forward.”
This is Oesterle's first NHL tour of duty. He has played 49 games this season in his rookie AHL campaign and has six goals and 15 assists for 21 points along with a +5 rating and six penalty minutes. He is second in scoring among Barons defencemen this season.RELATED:
Martin Marincin wouldn’t be the first choice in the shootout. In fact, Marincin was the Oilers 24th shooter against the Bruins. But when the defenceman tucked the puck under Tuukka Rask for the game-winning tally, there was at least one person in Rexall Place not the least bit surprised.
“I got a feeling,” Nail Yakupov said. “I was 100% sure that Marty would score a goal. I didn’t know why, but it was fun.”
There are some that think Marincin lost the puck when he reached the crease, but if not it was a slick fake out that fooled Rask.
“No, that was really my move,” Marincin joked after the game. “I just tried to make some move and have good luck and it’s in.”