Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Toiling at the bottom of the league standings for years, the Edmonton Oilers have stockpiled through the draft what is considered a loaded pool of prospects.
The Oilers boast a roster with a promising crop of talented young players, including Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. But despite that bevy of potential, the club still hasn't been able to put it together.
Will this be the season it turns the corner?
Former Oilers forward Eric Belanger isn't betting on it quite yet. The talent is there, but the experience is still lacking. And what the Oilers have done is thrust some of these bright young stars into the type of roles that have traditionally taken years to earn.
"I remember when I started in the league, guys started on the third or fourth line and were working their way up. You have good veterans, you don't have the pressure to perform every night," Belanger, 36, told ESPN.com in a recent phone conversation. "I think the game has changed dramatically in that way.
added 11:35am, Edmonton Oilers press release is below...
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
With National Hockey League training camps three weeks away from starting, this is the first time in his life he didn’t spend his summer getting ready for hockey.
He says there are no withdrawal pains now, but come Oct. 9 when the Calgary Flames are here for the Oilers home opener, maybe they’ll kick in.
For now, he’ll be as far away from the rink as possible. He’ll be a National Football League and a baseball fan.
“I’m heading to Seattle this weekend to watch the Green Bay Packers,” said Smyth.
“Then I’m going to New York to see Derek Jeter close in on his final games.
“These are not things I’d be doing if I was going to camp. Trying to keep busy.”
He has seen the inside of a gym since hanging up his skates four and a half months ago. He hasn’t turned into a sloth.
from Derek Van Diest at NHL.com,
Will Nail Yakupov have a bounce-back season? -- Selected No. 1 by the Oilers in 2012, Yakupov had a strong rookie season but regressed last season. The talented right wing struggled in his own end, which created friction with first-year coach Dallas Eakins. Yakupov heads into the 2014-15 season wanting to put last season behind him. He reportedly also has mended fences with Eakins, meeting this offseason to iron out their differences.
"I'm not even thinking about last season," Yakupov said. "I'm concentrating on this season. I'm hoping to have a good year and I'm doing everything I can in order to do that. We'll see what it's going to be like this year. I promise I'll work hard and play 100 percent. I hope it's going to be good for me and good for the team. We have to play better than we did last year so we'll see how it goes."
Will Ryan Nugent-Hopkins be able to carry the load at center? -- Nugent-Hopkins was pegged as the Oilers' No. 1 center the moment the team made him the first selection in the 2011 draft. Nugent-Hopkins was signed to a long-term extension last season, confirming his place in the team's future with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Unlike Hall and Eberle, however, Nugent-Hopkins still is looking for his breakout season. Nugent-Hopkins had 19 goals and 56 points in 80 games last season, well off the point-per-game pace of his rookie season.
Lacking depth up the middle, the Oilers will rely heavily on Nugent-Hopkins on both sides of the puck. He'll be counted on to log big minutes against some of the top centers in the Western Conference.
If Nugent-Hopkins gets hurt, the Oilers could be in big trouble.
from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun,
By skipping out on the World Championship, Hall was able to add a month to his workout regimen this off-season.
“That was probably the main reason why I didn’t go to Worlds, I wanted to give myself a really good summer to train,” Hall said. “It seemed like every summer I either had surgery or World Championships or an ankle to heal, so this summer was good for me in that regard. I got some good training in, I got on the ice a little bit earlier than I usually do, and hopefully, that helps out. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling healthy, I’m ready to go and I can’t wait for camp to start.”
Playing for the same head coach for two consecutive years should also benefit Hall heading into the year. In his four previous seasons with the Oilers, Hall has played for three different coaches, all seemingly wanting different things from him. This year, Dallas Eakins will be back behind the Oilers bench.
“That’s a really nice way to go into a year,” Hall said. “There is no awkward handshake at the start of the season (with new coach), it’s a business-like attitude now. I think Dallas feels really comfortable that way and I think all of us players over the course of 82 games got to know what Dallas expects from us and now we can hit ground running at camp.”
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
The Taylor versus Tyler drama at the 2010 draft was, really, driven more by alliteration than uncertainty. Taylor Hall may not have been a slam-dunk first-overall pick ahead of fast-rising Tyler Seguin, but by the time the Edmonton Oilers brass walked to the stage in Los Angeles, it would’ve been genuinely surprising to hear them call a name other than Hall’s.
Four years later, however, you can make cracking cases for both players as preferable to the other—which is exactly what we’re about to do.
Hall and Seguin have had different experiences through the early stages of their pro careers, Seguin having been to the Stanley Cup final twice with the Bruins, while Hall has yet to see his first playoff game in Edmonton. By the same token, both players have endured their share of hardship. Hall has faced perpetual questions about when the sad-sack Oilers will turn things around, while Seguin never blended in Boston, leading to a much-needed trade to Dallas just over 12 months ago.
Beyond similar first names, these players are linked by all-world speed and skill. But if we were to draft all over again, who would you take first?
(Edmonton, AB) August 19, 2014 - The stars have aligned to reunite the entire roster of the 1984 Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers, one of the greatest teams in the history of the game, on October 10 in Edmonton. During a live video conference today, Oilers legend Wayne Gretzky joined Oilers Entertainment Group Vice-Chairman Kevin Lowe to announce that the team will host a special celebration to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the historic 1984 Stanley Cup victory.
Oilers fans will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the entire 1984 Championship team and staff, including Oilers legends Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Glen Sather, as they reunite in Edmonton on October 10 to participate in the 1984 Stanley Cup Reunion event, an evening of storytelling and memory sharing at Rexall Place, in support of the Stollery Children's Hospital.
“We’re still looked upon to finally getting over that hump and I feel the we can do it. We’re going to pick up where we left off. At the start of the year, we struggled and that’s going to be a big thing for us. We have to start the season well, because I think last year we really dug ourselves in a hole early on and that killed us going into the rest of the season. It gives you confidence if you can start off winning and you realize you have a good team.”
-Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers. More on Eberle from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun.
Congrats to Tyler Dellow...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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