It is no secret that Leon Draisaitl is on a mission to make the Edmonton Oilers roster after the club selected him third overall last month in the NHL Draft. He’ll compete for a spot just like any other Oilers player or prospect and he understands this summer will be key to helping his chances.
“I think everyone wants to make the team,” Draisaitl said on Oilers Now on Wednesday. “When you get drafted I don’t think there is a single player who does not want to make the team. I think it’s a learning process for an 18-year-old kid. We obviously have a lot of work in front of us. I think I can talk for everyone one of the players who just got drafted or went to the camp. I think I have a lot of work to do but that’s what the summer is there for and all I am going to do is what I can control. That’s just work as hard as I can and then try to find a spot on the team.”
This past week at Orientation Camp in Jasper was Draisaitl’s first opportunity to wear the Oilers colours on the ice since being drafted. Draisaitl says that while the camp was more about meeting his fellow prospects and his future coaches and management, he did try and make an impression on the ice.
“There is a lot of work ahead for me. I obviously wanted to do as good as possible. It was the first time being on the ice for me after two months. You’re obviously a little bit rusty the first couple of ice sessions but I think it was okay.”
Heading into the rest of the summer it will be all about adding strength for Draisaitl. If he can do that and build up his defensive game a little, he will put himself in a great position to make the roster.
“I think for me personally it comes down to strength, especially my lower-body strength, and just my game away from the puck. That’s the two biggest things I need to improve over the summer and it’s a great time to do that.”
Draisaitl will spend the summer in Edmonton getting to know the area and training before camp.
After locking up Jeff Petry for another year, the Edmonton Oilers will look to secure the services of another defenceman for the immediate future. Justin Schultz is still awaiting a new deal and Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish says those talks are still on-going.
“I think that both sides fully expect to get a deal. We want to treat Justin very, very fairly. He’s working his way through the system and I guess at this point that’s probably the friction point. When you even compare him to guys on our team, where he fits in is not going to be entirely reflective of our value of him. It’s more a reflection of the system and where he is in the system. We fully expect to get a deal done.”
The Edmonton Oilers have made some changes to their normal Development Camp. It is now an Orientation Camp for the team’s prospects and the focus has shifted from lessons in hockey to team building. For the first time trying this new setup, Oilers General Craig MacTavish was pleased with the results.
“I’m really happy with how it’s gone,” MacTavish said. Getting it outside of Edmonton really gives me a better chance to interact with the players and prospects. It’s really beneficial, it gives us more time with the players. I think we’ve taken a little bit of a different focus this year than we have in years past. There’s a very healthy percentage of team building and we want to make sure these players coming through this process know what our expectation is for them, they know what we’re looking for, they know what our expectation is for the Edmonton Oilers players. We want good people, good hard-working people that care about each other and are really going to go to war for one another.”
The Edmonton Oilers announced on Monday that they had agreed to terms with defenceman Jeff Petry on a one-year contract. The two sides had discussed a longer termed deal but elected for the one-year instead.
It gives Petry an opportunity to have a bounce-back season and prove his place on the Oilers before they hit the negotiation room again next summer.
“We looked at longer termed deal for him but we just couldn’t agree on that longer termed deal,” Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said. “It’s a bit of a risky deal for us because we’re exposed on the asset. We very much view Jeff as a high-end asset for us. At the same time, we’ve got to see what the level is for Jeff and Jeff’s anticipating a high level and he’s got the ability to hit it out of the park and we hope that’s the case. We’re right back at the negotiation table next year negotiating a long-term deal with Jeff based on a tremendous season and a big upgrade on what we’ve seen over the last few years, which has been pretty good.”
The deal is reportedly just over $3 million and MacTavish says it’s a fair agreement for both sides.
“We did offer him a longer term deal. Somebody that didn’t have confidence in their ability would have probably taken it. I think it’s a good deal for both parties, I really do. It’s the perfect compromise. I’m of the mindset that you can’t have a bunch of defencemen making $4 million. You want some making seven and some making one. The guys that are making four, you can’t shell out your roster and I think you can allocate your dollars for defence better than having a whole bunch of people at the same price point.”
The Edmonton Oilers are hoping Darnell Nurse becomes everything they hoped he could be when they selected him seventh overall in last year’s draft. Nurse had a solid Orientation Camp where his added size and strength paired with his work ethic and compete to make him a noticeable player on the ice.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Nurse said. “I was a lot stronger compared to last year. It was good to go out there, compete and win a lot more battles than I think I did last year.”
In one year, Nurse has managed to grow enough as a player to the point where he appears ready to give the Edmonton coaching staff a difficult roster decision come training camp.
“The big thing for me is I have another year of experience. I’ve went through a lot of different situations playing against top lines all year long. I’ve really pushed myself outside of my comfort zone on the ice and I’ve tried to make myself a complete player. Obviously there is still room to grow but I felt pretty good out there and I’m looking forward to continue my growth.”
Now that Orientation Camp is over, Nurse is zeroed in on his next challenge - making the Oilers roster.
“I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym and pushing myself even harder. I’ll come in in the best shape possible when September rolls around.”
|Photo by Ryan Hrycun/Oilers TV|
The Edmonton Oilers prospects are in Jasper for Orientation Camp and their stay in the mountains has been full of not just on-ice sessions and off-ice workouts but camping and biking around the area.
The biking is all thanks to Jasper’s own Freewheel Cycle.
“Freewheel has been going on for about 30 years, which is pretty long for the bike industry,” lifetime Oilers fan and owner of the bike shop Chris Peel said. “Not many stores last that long. We’ve been going strong, mostly focusing on mountain bikes but we have everything from town cruisers to street bikes and high-end mountain bikes.”
When the prospects rolled through town, Freewheel rented out their entire fleet to the players to use this week. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins, an avid cyclist, led some trail rides and the players used the bikes to get from their lodgings to town for practice.
Peel says there were some fit issues with some of the players as they are a much larger clientele than the usual bike enthusiasts.
“They definitely took our biggest bikes,” Peel said. “The few issues on the bikes were these guys are so strong that they were breaking chains and stuff because they’re built pretty solid. There were a few broken chains but not too bad considering that most of them don’t ride bikes other than inside and doing fitness testing and things like that.”
|Photo by Ryan Hrycun/Oilers TV|
Freewheel is no stranger to the Oilers, having helped them out with bike rentals in the past. In 2010, the Oilers came to Jasper for training camp.
“That was exciting,” Peel said. “The difference now is it’s neat to have these young guys. It’s neat to meet these guys and put faces to the names. I’m a hockey fan and we have some hockey fans in the shop here.”
Peel has ridden bikes with Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish before and was very happy to meet Eakins. During Orientation Camp, Peel has been able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the team operates on the player development side. He also took the players for morning bike rides at 7 a.m. All of the bike riding this week, along with the workouts has these prospects exhausted as we reach the end of camp.
“I think they were a little tired, a little more than they thought they would. We know these guys are getting hammered while they’re here. We tried to take it as easy as we could. We understand it’s not easy to do all of those workouts. It’s early starts too. We started our morning bike ride at seven in the morning so these boys are working pretty hard.”
The experience this week was great for everyone from coaches to management to players. The prospects really had an opportunity to bond and the bike riding was just a part of it all.
MacTavish even bought himself a new bike this week. As you can see, the relationship between the Oilers and Freewheel Cycle was prosperous for both sides.
The Edmonton Oilers announced today that they agreed to terms with defenceman Jeff Petry on a one-year deal.
Petry was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer this afternoon to talk about the contract.
“It’s nice to have gotten a deal done and be back,” Petry said. “With the way things went last year and the signings that the team has made over the last couple of weeks it’s something that I’m definitely excited to get back for. I think we should be good moving forward.”
Petry has played his entire NHL career with the Oilers, registering 59 points (13-46-59) and 107 penalty minutes in 236 games. He was chosen by the Oilers in the second round (45th overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft.
Petry says after negotiation, the one-year deal was the right term for both sides for the time being.
“We went back and forth on both sides and both sides agreed that this is the best thing for both sides.”
The Edmonton Oilers prospects have had their own beds to come home to at night during their stay in Jasper at Orientation Camp. But tonight that will change as the young prospects are headed into the woods with Oilers Captain Andrew Ference for a night of camping in the elements.
Ference’s friend and U.S. Army Ranger Lucas Carr will accompany the group of players into the wilderness and they will be tested mentally and physically.
“Working under conditions that are irrelevant in a regular civilian setting by taking away sleep and food,” Carr said. “By taking away the sleep and the food you are adding in the duress off extreme conditions with unfortunate results that will hopefully transpire onto the ice when some of the players get the food, they get the sleep and they have the talent at the point when there is 20 seconds in the game and they are down by one goal, to score that one goal. By having this in their background, right in their back pocket, they are going to look at a situation like that and they are going to say, “this is easy. Let’s just be ourselves.”
Carr continued, “You do make the best plays when you are in a situation like that, when you are not thinking about doing everything, when you are not thinking what you should have done. Be yourself, stay composed, do the little things that are going to get the job done, do the little things that are going to score the goal, do the little things that are going to pass the mental aptitude and tests, use your intestinal fortitude to carry on to the next objective and win the game.”
Ference was asked by Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish to come in and speak with the prospects but having been through development camps of his own, the captain wanted to make more of an impression on the young players.
“I wasn’t too keen on just having a chat and talking with the kids. I’ve gone through stuff like that before. I figured it would be more effective to do something real and fun and just different. So tonight we are taking the guys on a little adventure with our friends.”
The prospects will be given the essentials, including rations of food and water, and they will be in the company of trained professionals like Carr.
“It’s basically just being thrown to the lions in a general sense,” Carr said. “You haven’t been in a situation like that, now is a great opportunity for you to show a leadership capability that you can use throughout your career in the NHL. Or if it’s just going into civilian world with a regular job and using that saying, “Wow, I did this when I was at Edmonton Oilers Prospect Camp. I can use what I learned here at some point in my life and be evaluated on how I was a leader then.”
- Andrew Ference Interview
- Lakeside with Darnell Nurse
- Prospects take the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper
- RAW - Director of Player Development Rick Carriere
- RAW - Marco Roy
|Jordan Oesterle (photo from WMU)
JASPER, AB - Oilers Director of Player Development Rick Carriere talked about this year's Orientation Camp in Jasper and how it differs from past years when it would be held in Sherwood Park.
“When you walk around our accommodations at the Pine Bungalows here and you talk to the players and how much energy and enthusiasm they have in the evenings, it’s different from last year,” Carriere said. “Our focus before was to try and get as much as we could into seven days. Sometimes, I think that really took away from the excitement and enthusiasm after they got a little bit tired. So now, they’re fresh, they’re excited, they’re working hard. That’s exactly what we wanted.”
The end goal for Carriere and the Oilers is to create a competitive environment here at Orientation Camp, but also at Rookie Camp in Penticton in September and ultimately at main Oilers Training Camp.
“With the right amount of patience, our guys have the attitude, work ethic and compete to make it more competitive to make the Oilers one day for everybody. We’re trying to create that pressure from underneath.
“We want guys battling for jobs. Our goal and focus is to create that in our prospects.”
Carriere talked about the progress he has seen already from a handful of key prospects.
“Just from what I’ve seen from some of the guys at the end of the year in Oklahoma City to what I see now. Darnell Nurse, Jujhar Khaira, Greg Chase. Jordan Oesterle has been a really pleasant surprise. They bring a lot to the mix and they’re going to make it really competitive for some of these guys.”