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 The Flames logo has already been replaced by the Calgary Hitmen’s dark mask icon.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.
The CHLPA is still in it's infancy and the loudest cry is for a better scholarship program. To those involved with the CHLPA the amount of time a player has to choose to take the scholarship money is too short. In the WHL it is the September of the year after the player's final year of WHL eligibility. While I cannot say that I am for or against the idea of a players union for the CHL players, I can say that I want to know more. But, it is excellent news to hear that so many players are taking advantage of available scholarship money this year.
Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison announced today that a total of 301 WHL graduate players have been awarded WHL Scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year.
The WHL Scholarship recipients are enrolled as full-time students in 68 different post-secondary institutions throughout North America.
This season 183 of the 301 WHL Scholarship recipients are furthering their education while playing elite hockey in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Association. In Western Canada 125 of these student athletes are playing in the Canada West University Conference, including Mount Royal University which joined the Canada West Conference for the 2012-13 season, and have combined their WHL Scholarship with additional financial assistance from their University to receive Western Canada’s Premier Hockey Scholarship.
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.
Georges Laraque has always been known as a talker. Even while playing for the Edmonton Oilers, Laraque was all over the Edmonton radio waves, and not just in sports interviews. No, Laraque was often featured on the various popular music stations sharing his opinions on a variety of topics. That was a trend that continued as Laraque ventured into veganism and helping those affected by natural disaster in Haiti.
Now, Laraque has a new topic and a new title; Executive Director of the CHLPA. As the director, Laraque has been speaking for the CHLPA and what they are looking to acheive including this interview given with Jason Gregor of the Team 1260:
Those players have a right to an education. They want to create a union to make sure that this (education) will be a main focus. We are talking about 1300 kids in which about 98% of them won’t play in the NHL; I think it’s reasonable for them to at least fight for their education.
Just for an example to throw, look for the Quebec Major League website they talk about how the 18 teams in the Quebec League have spent $400,000 (on education) which is less than the $25,000/team. If you look in the Western League all of the numbers are shown there, the Western Hockey League has spent over $600,000 between 22 teams which is less than $30,000/team.
In the Quebec League there are over 45 million tickets sold and in the Western League there are over 50 million tickets sold. Then if you look at the stick budget, which is more than $50,000/yr how does that make sense? We spend more money on sticks than education.
“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.
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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