The Oilers didn’t make anything remotely close to a splash on the first day of free agency. Instead the team chose three UFAs to re-sign in Ryan Smyth, Darcy Hordichuk and Jann Danis. But there is however the signing of Justin Schultz. So maybe they did make a splash afterall, even if it wasn’t for your typical proven, veteran, UFA player.
There are a number of attractive UFA targets still remaining on the market, and there is no doubt that the Oilers are trying to land one or two of them, but the Oilers have always struggled to land the big fish.
You already knew that Edmonton loves their Oilers, and this week offers nothing but more evidence to support the assessment. This week, all of the Oilers’ prospects have travelled from their home bases to work with the Oilers training and development staff and to see where they stack up against the other prospects. Most days of the development camp are mundane drills, nothing even slightly exciting. And yet the fans pour into Millenium Place in Sherwood Park, at least 500 I would say if I had to wager a guess. Some fans just pop in for a half hour or so, often just to see Yakupov, while others stay for the nearly 3 hours of drills hoping to catch a glimpse of greatness.
Edmonton Oilers’ head of amateur scouting Stu Macgregor was glad to speak about the teams picks in rounds 2 through 7 of this past weekend’s NHL entry draft. MacGregor knew that this year’s draft class looked much different than last year’s but also knew that GM Steve Tambellini’s ambitions were to fill needs rather than draft a balanced set of players to add to the team’s depth.
The majority of players selected were power forwards with big bodies and even bigger heart, but it was the second round pick that seemed to have surprised hockey fans the most.
We’ve know it was coming, but we didn’t know it would take this long. Steve Tambellini made the trip to Sweden seemingly to sign Oscar Klefbom nearly two months ago, but it wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon that the deal was made official. Drafted 19th overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft Oscar Klefbom is now signed to a three year entry level contract with the Oilers and will count against next season’s (if it happens) list of 50 professional contracts.
But don’t get too excited yet Oil Country, Klefbom has another year on his contract with Färjestad of the Swedish Elite League and has always said that he intends to play out his contract.
As reported by NHL.com writer Mike Morreale top ranked prospect Nail Yakupov has been living up to the hype, and maybe then some.
Edmonton Oilers head amateur scout, Stu MacGregor, whose team holds the No. 1 choice at the draft for the third straight year, said he was impressed with Yakupov’s workout.
“He extended himself and put himself out there and gave everything he had,” MacGregor told NHL.com. “I think that Nail wants to be No. 1 and he wants to prove he’s No. 1, so he knows what’s at stake and he’s pushing himself to be the best he can be.”
In addition to the bike tests, Yakupov was put through tests that included the standing long jump, vertical jump, curl-ups, grip strength, bench press, push-ups, and push/pull strength. He bench-pressed 150 pounds nine times, and totaled 29 pushups, four more than the average number last year.
He also lasted 12:25 on the VO2 Max test, which measures the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise. During his 30-second spin on the Wingate Cycle Ergometer, Yakupov maintained top speed to the very end, grunting his way through the final five seconds of the exercise.
Friday marks the deadline for teams to sign their 2010 draft prospects, as well as earlier draft picks who were in school up until the end of the last semester. What this means is that teams need to have come to their final decisions on who they see in their system going forward. For the Oilers with the signing of Kristians Pelss in April, it was an early sign that they are going to pass on left winger Drew Czerwonka, but there was very little indication of their plans concerning defenceman Jeremie Blain. Now, Jason Gregor of the Team 1260 is reporting that the all indications and conversations behind the scenes indicate that the Oilers are not looking to sign either player.
The Edmonton Oilers have only participated in this Penticton B.C. tournament for the past two years, but for the past two years it has been eagerly anticipated by the fans. Some make the trip to the British Columbia wine country to get in one last summer vacation as well as to catch an early glimpse of the up and coming Oilers, who are also the only reason to watch Oilers’ hockey some nights, while others are glued to their computer screens to take in the live feed. Regardless of how it has been watched, this tournament has become fairly popular. News of the cancellation broke Wednesday over fears of contract disputes and the upcoming collective bargaining between the NHL and its players Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal writes.
News of the cancellation came on the heels of the announcement that the NHL had served notice to the NHLPA that it wants to redo the current CBA. The deal expires on Sept. 15, so notification had to be served by Friday.
The Oilers would not comment on the cancellation, but it’s hard not to link it to a possible lockout. The NHL has also cancelled its opening regular-season games in Europe, and it is expected that the Detroit Red Wings will scrap their rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich.
The league and its teams, obviously, do not want to be on the hook for pre-booked hotel rooms and rink rentals if the season is held up by contract negotiations.
Jim Matheson also writes that the tournament hosted by the Detroit Red Wings in Traverse City Michigan is “reported to be on hold with a decision to be made later in the summer.”
The WHL season is not quite finished, but most of the hardware has already been awarded. Wednesday afternoon the WHL held their awards luncheon in Calgary where the Edmonton Oil Kings and Oiler prospect Tyler Bunz all walked away happy. Bunz took home the WHL goaltender of the year award, the Oil Kings were named the scholastic team of the year and Oil Kings’ GM Bob Green was named WHL Executive of the Year the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy.
When it comes to the number of contracts the Oilers have, you have to know that there will be some changes. The current contracts roll over on June 30th, and the new contracts take affect July 1st. What this means is that Pelss’ contract doesn’t count until July 1st, and the same is true for the Tyler Bunz contract.
The Edmonton Oil Kings are still alive and well in this year’s WHL playoffs, but the Oilers have decided not to wait and to sign left winger Kristians Pelss to a 3 year deal.
Pelss was a 7th round draft 2010 draft pick who has helped take the Oil Kings to the WHL finals (which will begin Thursday night in Edmonton) with his scoring and defensive abilities. Pelss may not have led the team in scoring, but finishing 6th in points and 5th in goals on a team with as much depth and talent as the Oil Kings have is quite the accomplishment.
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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