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.
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.
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.
For some, hockey bloodlines run deep. And while those bloodlines may help a player get their foot in the door, that’s going to be as far as it can take you. At some point, talent has to take front and centre stage. With Edmonton Oilers' prospect defenceman David Musil, his bloodlines helped develop him into a WHL player, but it was his talent that got him drafted 31st overall at the 2010 NHL entry draft, and a position on the 2012 Czech Republic World Juniors Team.
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.
The Edmonton Oilers may have finished dead last in the spring of 2010, but they could finish first in that year's draft class. While teams hope for one or two players to make the NHL, or a significant impact in the AHL, the Oilers may have struck gold with each and every pick.
While on his visit to Oklahoma City, Terry Jones of the Edmotnon Sun was able to catch up and on each of the 2010 draft picks, all of which find themselves on Edmonton Oilers affiliated professional teams.
With the exception of Bunz, last year’s WHL goaltender of the year who they want to play 60 games with Stockton in the ECHL, they’re all here this year, they’re all members of the Oklahoma City Barons.
In 2010 GM Steve Tambellini gave MacGregor the bullets. It was essentially the year Tambellini and staff put together the development model to take the Oilers to a place they’d never been before, one only the Detroit Red Wings had ever aspired to become, and realized, as an organization.
It happened without fanfare, it happened without a big public address, but it happened just the same. The NHL season is cancelled for the foreseeable future and the players are locked out. For some, that means nothing but more uncertainty. Do they pack up their families, pull kinds out of school and chase a paycheck in Europe, do they spend a year away from their families if they can find a team to play for? Not every player will be able to find a team, and certainly not every player will feel comfortable with the risks of taking less pay and the risk of getting injured and forfeiting their NHL salary if the season can be salvaged.
For the Oilers, several players on entry level contracts (ELC) have been assigned to play in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons, some have accepted that they will not be playing hockey unless the NHL starts up again, and of course a few are making their way to various leagues in Europe.
Daniil Zharkov may have been drafted last in the third round, but he has the confidence of a first rounder. And not just any first rounder, Zharkov is friends with Nail Yakupov and is going to make it his goal in life to be better than his new rival. Oh, and he also has a great sense of humour. Even if he doesn’t make the team for another few years, he may be a new fan favourite.
“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.
There are several benefits for writing for someone like Paul. The biggest has to be that since we write online and not for a newspaper with their 9pm and 11pm deadlines we can share news, even old news, and opinions when it works for us.
And so even though the draft was a couple of weeks ago I can still at this point write up something on the players that the Oilers took. This is especially helpful since I am on vacation but I know that the dog days are summer can seem especially long and hockeyless. The Oilers may have selected these players in late June, but they are no less exciting, interesting or Oilers by mid July. I hope that you are enjoying your summer and that you might get some enjoyment from the odd articles that will be popping up in the next two weeks.
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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