THE TEAM TODAY: Trade Winds
Oilers arrive in Columbus and practice at Nationwide Arena's practice facility; team talks Mike Brown trade, injury updates and more
TRADE WINDS BLOW INTO COLUMBUSCOLUMBUS, OH - The Oilers departed Minnesota this morning and landed in Columbus in the afternoon. From the airport, the club went directly to the Nationwide Arena to skate at the Blue Jackets' connected practice facility.
The big story of the day was, of course, the addition of Mike Brown who departed Toronto this morning when hearing about the trade and joined his teammates at the rink in Columbus following practice.
"No one's ever prepared for a trade. I went to the rink this morning and I knew that (the Leafs) had a lot of guys that needed a roster spot and you never think it's yourself but it's time to move on," said Brown. "You've gotta think positive now. I'm happy to be here and happy they wanted me here."
Brown said that he had about 20 minutes to pack and headed for the airport to catch his flight.
"Just meeting the guys and all the staff and getting settled in," he continued.
Brown added that he feels he can add a different element to the hockey club.
"First thing I think of when I see this team is it's a young, real skilled team. Over the years from playing these guys, you know they're going to be a skilled team and for myself I'm going to come in and play the way I play. I'm not going to change anything. Obviously they're bringing me here for the way that I play. I'm going to add in that grit and a little bit of toughness and energy and hopefully that works out well."
Coach Krueger added that he was looking forward to adding Brown's element to the lineup.
"Mike Brown's reputation precedes him. I've been able to speak to colleagues and peers in the NHL about him to get to know him a little bit and we have inside experience on him and what he's done in his years in the Western Conference being bred by the Vancouver Canucks. You know what you're getting in him every day and he's definitely an example for the compete that we want in this lineup."
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, who was with the Canucks when they drafted Brown in 2004, was looking forward to adding him to the team.
"Mike is a passionate player. He plays with a lot of energy. His compete level is obvious to people that play against him or watch him," said the GM. "He's been that player since he played college at the University of Michigan to his first days a pro in Vancouver. He's a tough kid that plays hard every night and that's what the coaches can expect and his teammates. He'll bring it every night."
Tambellini added that Brown's speed and ability to kill penalties was also an asset.
"He's an important piece because he can get minutes in a lot of different areas. Obviously, he has good speed so when you need to get in on the forecheck and get that first hit he can do that. He does kill penalties, he killed penalties for Randy Carlyle in two different cities so he's shown that he has the discipline to do that. And I think he can play that abrasive type of hockey that we're looking for."
TAYLOR HALL GETTING CLOSER
Taylor Hall skated today. He didn't pronounce himself ready but said that he is improving on a regular basis from the leg injury which he suffered in St. Louis and caused him to miss last night's contest in Minnesota.
"It's tough to miss games and you don't like to see the team lose, especially when you miss games, but I feel better every day. It's just one of those injuries where I feel even better than I did today and hopefully I can be back soon."
Hall added that he wanted to make sure that his injury wasn't in a situation where it could be worsened if he played.
"It's the same with any injury, you want to make sure you're definitely able to play and have confidence that you're not going to mess it up again. It's one of these things. I've never had groin or hamstring issues before so that's new to me. It's along the same lines as my shoulder. You've got to get it back to a point where you're not going to make it any word and that's what I'm trying to do before tomorrow."
Ralph Krueger echoed Hall's remarks.
"There's really no math to this right now. We just want to be sure that there's no risk of worsening it. The only way he'll be in the lineup is if we're confident that it can't be worse by playing. It's really still too early on that injury to make that decision. We're going to wait until tomorrow's pre-game skate to call it. I can't even say a number on it right now. We will err to the careful right now."
OTHER INJURY UPDATES
Krueger added that Jordan Eberle, who did not skate today after suffering a hand injury in Minnesota, is likely to play tomorrow.
"He's doing pretty good," stated the coach. "I think it was a good day of rest for him, having taken that little break yesterday. He's dealing with a little bit of a bruise in there. We're still optimistic getting him back into the lineup."
There should also be an update on Nikolai Khabibulin's status in the coming days, noted Krueger.
"He's not happy to be back in rehab but he's working really hard on that. We should get a medical assessment on him tomorrow so we should be able to give you an update. We want to do one full week of rehab with him. He's going to be running through some tests tomorrow. We're not really optimistic on (him returning) for this trip."
The Oilers also announced that Mark Fistric has returned to Edmonton to be further examined by the team's medical staff due to his elbow injury.
On the good news front, Krueger remarked that Shawn Horcoff is getting much closer to returning to the lineup.
"He actually had a big step today," Krueger said. "He felt a lot better today than a couple days ago. I think that Horc is on schedule to play, we hope, in the next week. Anything earlier would be probably a miracle but he could get one or two in on this trip."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com