The Edmonton Oilers’ development camp opened yesterday with a little less fanfare for the first time in years. Without another first overall pick, the crowds were smaller; less people felt inclined to take a morning off of work to check out the latest additions. The on ice spectacles were a little less flashy too without Nail Yakupov’s goal celebrations, and overall the air was serious. After years of disappointment in the Oilers’ rebuild, things are about to get very serious, and finally there will be competition for every entry level contract, every position with the Oilers and their farm teams. This year, things get real.
Edmonton Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish addressed the season ticket holders last week, speaking highly of draft eligible Darnell Nurse when asked. But perhaps the season ticket holders just weren’t asking the right questions. Tuesday, speaking with the media from the Oilers’ front office, MacT discussed what the team wants and of course needs. And what they intend to do with the 7th overall spot, is draft a centreman.
Oh Oiler fans, what are you to do? The 2013 NHL entry draft is fast approaching and you have no idea, at all, who your team will take, and your team isn't even drafting first overall! Quel dommage! Fear not, the end of June through beginning of July can still be exciting.
The hockey world was shocked by the passing of young Latvian, and Oilers' prospect Kristians Pelss. Shocking, heartbreaking and tragic, the loss of Pelss touched upon the heart strings of anyone who heard the story. While we may never know what happened last Monday in Latvia, we do know that the friends and family of Pelss will never forget, will never completely be able to move on. And for them, we mourn.
Simmer down Oil Country, simmer down. The draft is fast approaching, the arena deal has come together and the Oilers have a new GM; things look good. Even better, the new GM is the cerebral and vocal Craig MacTavish who wants to be a man of action and take this team to where it was when he played. But just because he says that moving Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff would be best for all parties involved, that certainly doesn’t mean it will happen.
The Edmonton Oilers have had luck on their side when it comes to their draft positions the last few years. You can’t deny that drafting first overall three years in a row and highly in each subsequent round has had huge implications to the team’s prospect stockpiles. But while the first overall picks have been relatively easy to select, it has been head amateur scout Stu MacGregor who is the main reason behind the Oilers drafting success in later picks.
For nearly every team in the WHL, the season ended just a game or two too soon. For the Edmonton Oil Kings, last year’s WHL champs, this especially rang true. The Oil Kings knew what it takes to get to the Memorial Cup, they had finished out their season there last year. And for many of the players on the roster, these were their final games of their junior careers.
The Edmonton Oilers need help on their blueline. And not soon, but now. While draft picks alone cannot remedy the situation, the team has been aware of the gaping holes in their depth and roster while making their selections on draft day year after year.
While defencemen tend to take longer to develop and to prepare themselves physically those who have been in the system for a few years, are inching their way closer to making an impact. The defenceman most recently added to the list is 6’5” 191 lb Slovakian Martin Gernat.
Few thought that this would be an easy challenge for the Oil Kings, but most thought that the Hitmen would have been knocked out by now. Instead, it’s a game 7 showdown, winner takes all in Edmonton Tuesday night. To the victor, the opportunity to limp into the WHL finals against the Portland Winterhawks. And the loser, an early summer. Somehow neither opportunity sounds all that pleasant.
The NHL season is not yet over, but it is for the Calgary Flames. If you needed any confirmation of that fact, you need only take a look at centre ice in the Calgary Saddledome. The Flames logo has already been replaced by the Calgary Hitmen’s dark mask icon. And why not? These are important games, especially since the games played are against the Edmonton Oil Kings, last year’s WHL champions. Still the ice is certainly a statement about NHL hockey in Alberta, both teams are in need of some serious changes and improvement to match up to the success of the WHL franchises.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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