Sam Bennett is a consensus top-five pick and the number one North American skater in Central Scouting’s rankings. He is one of the younger prospects at the top, as he turns 18 on June 20. That isn’t stopping Bennett from being confident in his ability to make an NHL roster out of camp this year.
“I do feel like I’ll be ready come training camp and I’m going to work really hard in the gym this summer and on the ice and do whatever it takes to be ready for the NHL next year,” Bennett said.
Bennett also says that was a reoccurring topic in his interviews with teams at the combine.
“I was asked by a bunch of teams if I thought I was ready and my answer every time was I think I’m ready to play next year.”
Leduc, AB native and Spruce Grove Saint defenceman Brandon Hickey has an Oilers connection.
“I grew up watching them,” Hickey said. “I’ve watched a lot of hockey of the Edmonton Oilers. Growing up, it was my dad’s favourite team and he passed that passion on to me. In our basement we have a little hockey rink with the Oilers logo in the middle. It’s pretty neat to even just talk to them here.”
Hickey is the 63rd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting. He is just under 6-foot-2 and just over 175 pounds. He had a 22-point season (4-18-22 in 49 games) for Spruce Grove this year.
As the son of a player, draft prospect Kasperi Kapanen grew up around NHL rinks. Naturally, this lifestyle led to some very interesting stories.
His father Sami Kapanen would have him around after practice and the young Kapanen would go out on the ice. At the Scouting Combine, Kasperi told one of the more interesting, and potentially dangerous, stories he has from his childhood.
“I remember a story where I was actually on the ice when I was around three or four with my dad after practice and I think it was Bates Battaglia who was taking slap shots on the boards and he wasn’t looking up at all,” said Kapanen. “I was skating right in the way and I didn’t have a helmet on, or I did but it still wouldn’t have helped that much, so I think he shot it three or four inches above my head so my dad kind of got mad at him a little bit but there’s a lot of stories.”
Battaglia and Sami Kapanen played together on the Carolina Hurricanes from 1997-2003.
Growing up in Windsor, ON, draft prospect Hunter Smith got an up-close view of an Edmonton Oiler as he was ripping up the Ontario Hockey League.
In three seasons with the Windsor Spitfires, Taylor Hall posted 284 regular-season points and 76 in the playoffs. It’s a big reason why he was the number one overall pick in 2010 by the Oilers. Smith witnessed Hall’s reign in the OHL.
“I think I was at every game,” the 18-year-old winger said. “My family had season tickets and I saw him score a lot of goals. He’s electric player and would obviously be a great player to have on your team one day.”
Smith posted 40 points (16-24-40) this season for Windsor and rocketed his draft stock after slipping through the draft last year. He is a towering winger, standing at close to 6-foot-7 and is an intriguing prospect after his breakout season.
Smith says he doesn’t know where he may go in the draft. He is just going with the flow.
“Big guys, I’m not going to shrink any. I don’t really have any expectations. I’m kind of going there with an open mind and whatever happens, happens because I over thought my OHL draft and it didn’t go as planned. Right now I’m just trying to let it happen.”
Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer had Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor on Oilers Now Monday afternoon to chat about the combine and draft. MacGregor said there are about six players involved in the discussion for the Oilers, who select third overall.
Having backup plans serves teams well in case they do some moving up and down the chart.
“There’s about six players that will be involved in that discussion,” he said. “And you have to be prepared for moving and if the pick moves or not moves or if you make a decision if you’re able to obtain another pick so you’re also building yourself for not only the number three overall pick but you’re building yourself for throughout the rest of the draft. The number has to be kind of at six or seven just in case there is some type of movement. You may get an opportunity or an offer that’s just incredible that you have to think about and be able to weigh the options and weigh what you’re getting in return for a possible move from your draft position.”
MacGregor says the scouting team has seen the top 4-6 prospects about 40-50 times as a unit and he personally has seen the players 12-15 times depending on what tournaments and games they’ve played in.
Edmontonoilers.com and Oilers TV will be on location in Toronto for the combine this week.
Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor was on Oilers Now with Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer on Monday afternoon and talked about the upcoming combine and draft. MacGregor says the team will interview 82 players in all at the combine.
In the interviews, the scouting staff and management team will get a better feel for the type of person they might be getting should they select that player in the draft. MacGregor says there isn’t much moving up the draft board for players when it comes to how they did in the interviews.
“You’re basically getting to know a person or a young man in this case and find out just a little bit more about them,” MacGregor said. “It gives you a little bit more of a comfort with what they’re like and what they’re about a little bit, find out something about their background. There may be a specific incident that had happened during the season that you’re interested to see what their response was to a situation and just see what they were thinking at that particular time or just what they learned from an event that happened during the season.”
On the flip side, MacGregor also said they can’t hurt their stock much either. At the most, a bad interview may cost a player just a few spots.
“I think it could alter things,” MacGregor said. “Your question was could he dramatically change his position and no he can’t. But yes he could possibly move himself a spot or two or this or that. It’s like any interview. If you like someone, you’re going to want to have that person working for you or within your organization. It’s important for the player to be able to present himself in a positive image as well as being able to provide the skills that are necessary to obtain that position that they’re applying for. It’s very similar to a job interview.”
Edmontonoilers.com and Oilers TV will be on location in Toronto for the combine this week.
Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish is in London, Ontario to take in the Memorial Cup and watch one of the team’s prospects on the Edmonton Oil Kings, Mitch Moroz.
MacTavish was on Sportsnet’s broadcast of the Memorial Cup last night and commented on Moroz.
“He’s had a terrific year, I think he had 15 goals the year before, he’s had 35 goals this year,” MacTavish said. “He’s obviously a guy we’ve watched extensively playing in Edmonton.”
“Very tough,” he continued. “He’s definitely a sheriff at this level. We’re all excited in Edmonton, the Oilers that is, to get Mitch in our organization. We think he’s going to be a very bright spot in our future.”
Moroz had 63 points (35-28-63) in 70 games during the regular season. In 21 playoff games, Moroz has posted 19 points (6-13-19).
Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish was on Sportsnet’s broadcast of the Memorial Cup last night and spoke with the panel about what the mood is like out there in regards to trade talk and movement.
MacTavish said that it’s all quiet on that front but should heat up after the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“The trade deadline was a little anti-climatic I thought this year,” he said. “But it’s really a little bit of a lull right now from a managerial standpoint. There’s not too too much going on with the NHL playoffs, including here in the next month but it will heat up very quickly. There are a lot of teams that are going to have a lot of pressure to get better very quickly, the Edmonton Oilers certainly being one of those teams and we’re going to be doing what we did last year. (That is) making the phone calls and trying to see what the market is out there to help ourselves improve.”
The Edmonton Oil Kings have come to expect the unexpected when it comes to their WHL final series against Portland. After dropping the first two games of the series, Edmonton battled back to take a 3-2 series lead heading into game six. They had two three-goal leads disappear and Portland came back to tie the series with a 6-5 overtime win.
“I think that’s a good motto for the series,” Head Coach Derek Laxdal said about expecting the unexpected. “Portland’s defencemen scored five goals last night. I thought we got a little bit careless in some of our d-zone coverage but at the end of the day that’s playoff hockey, that’s junior hockey. It’s a one-game shot for a championship and the best team will prevail tonight.”
The Oil Kings are prepared with the knowledge that they have to be ready for anything.
“Unpredictable,” Luke Bertolucci says of the series and game seven. “Going down 2-0 and then coming back and getting three straight and then their comeback last night, you don’t write that up. We don’t know what to expect tonight but we’re just going to give it our all.”
The Edmonton Oil Kings watched two three-goal leads slip away in game six last night and with those, their chance at closing out the series on home ice. Winterhawks proved resilient and came back to beat Edmonton 6-5 in overtime to force a game seven in Portland tonight.
The Oil Kings’ attitude going into tonight’s game is much more jovial than it was last night following the loss.
“Pumped,” Cody Corbett said of the team’s mood going into tonight’s game. “All of the guys in the room are so excited. Whatever happened last night, that’s last night. Today is today, the sun came up this morning and you know we’re a good hockey club and we’re going to find a way to bounce back tonight.”
“Game seven is the biggest thing in all of hockey,” said Edgars Kulda, who had two goals in game six. “It’s the most important game in our season right now and of course everyone is excited, everyone is getting ready and we’ll come out strong today.”
Head coach Derek Laxdal has not had to do much to get them to forget last night’s game and focus solely on tonight.
“They’re pretty good,” he said. “They’re teenage kids. I think the coaching staff has a harder time of letting it go but the kids… they dwelled on it for a little bit last night then we got on the bus after the plane and you could see them start to loosen up a little bit. They know what their focus is, they have an understanding and they know that they weren’t at their best last night. They had a great period and a half and didn’t have a great second and third period. At the end of the day, we’ve got to be ready to go tonight with a one-game shot.”
Kulda adds, “What happened, happened. You can’t change what happened last game. We just need to come out and play our game seven as the most important game.”
Luke Bertolucci said, “It’s a new day, the sun came up. That’s something the coach emphasized. We have to start fresh today and forget about the last six games and tonight is our night.”