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 The Flames logo has already been replaced by the Calgary Hitmen’s dark mask icon.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.
Mitch Moroz wasn’t the name fans expected. No, many expected pretty much any name but with the second pick of the second round at the 2013 NHL entry draft. But the Oilers had their man with Nail Yakupov, they missed out on Henrik Samuelsson and didn’t intend to miss out on Mitch Moroz. You see, Tambellini was adamant that he was after character players, and filling needs with all remaining picks of the entry draft. With Moroz, the team took strength, skills and a personality that can at times be larger than life.
The draft rankings can get a little murky once you pass the top five. Even after the top three one tends to see a lot of variation from scout to scout, and so for many teams it becomes a matter of what they value and need the most that will lead them to pick one player over another.
For Edmonton Oil King centre Curtis Lazar bouncing around first round draft ranking has been something everyone constantly reminds him of this season, but somehow remains something he claims he never thinks about.
This was not the start they had hoped for, but it is what the Edmonton Oil Kings got. Instead of picking up right where they had finished last season, the team has suffered through its share of ups and downs. Now however, the team may be turning things around.
“We done good” the Oilers’ second round pick Mitch Moroz said of his Oil Kings team at this year’s NHL entry draft. Three of the top 32 players selected were from the WHL champion Oil Kings team, and Griffin Reinhart being picked at #4 set a new team record.
But as happy as Moroz can be for his teammates, he was at a loss for words to describe his delight at being selected 32nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers.
It was great while it lasted but for the Edmonton Oil Kings, their post season is over. The Oil Kings had their most successful season of modern franchise history winning their division, conference and eventually the WHL before competing for the 2012 Memorial Cup in Shawinigan Quebec but the the Oil Kings would be the first team to be eliminated from the four team tournament.
The Edmonton Oil Kings may be happy just to be participating in the Memorial Cup, but the team is going to push for every win they can get.
In the opening game of the tournament Friday night, the Oil Kings blew a 2 goal lead, but eventually squeaked past the home team Shawinigan Cataractes with a final score of 4-3. Not bad considering Shawinigan is not as battle weary as the Oil Kings. While the Oil Kings had only a few days to bounce back from their 7 game series against the Portland Winterhawks, the Cataractes have not played a playoff game since losing to the Chicoutimii Saguenéens a month ago.
Edmonton Oil Kings’ captain, and Buffalo Sabres prospect defenceman Mark Pysyk has been named the WHL player of the week on Monday.
Pysyk’s late game heroics Thursday night saw the Oil Kings take a 3-2 series lead when Pysyk scored with less than a minute on the clock in what may have been the most important game of the series for the Oil Kings. Had the Oil Kings fallen 3-2 to the Winterhawks and had to play catchup and win the final two games, this may have been a different series entirely.
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.
You can subscribe to the RSS feed here
Follow on Twitter @lisamcritchie
Or contact directly firstname.lastname@example.org