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Oilers training camp preview

McDavid, Draisaitl returning to form, special teams among keys to watch

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

With training camps set to begin on July 10 as part of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, is taking a closer look at each of the 24 teams in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Today, the Edmonton Oilers.

The Edmonton Oilers were 37-25-9 (.585 points percentage) in the regular season and will enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 12 seed, the Chicago Blackhawks, (32-30-8, .514), in one of eight best-of-5 series.

The Oilers are looking to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time since 2005-06, and if that is to happen, they will need forwards Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid to pick up where they left off when the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Draisaitl won the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer in the NHL with an NHL career-high 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 71 games, and McDavid was second with 97 points (34 goals, 63 assists) in 64 games. It's the first time teammates have finished first and second in scoring since Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Martin St. Louis (60 points) and Steven Stamkos (57) did so in the shortened 2012-13 season.

Because of the layoff, Oilers coach Dave Tippett said the key in training camp will be getting the players back up to speed as quickly as possible.

"When you're in the regular season, you're building up to that playoffs and you're trying to hit your peak at the right time," Tippett said. "There's going to be no buildup here. You're going to have to hit the ground running.

"We're going to have to prepare as best we can in training camp, through some scrimmages, things like that, to try to get as close to a level of game that we can so it doesn't shock your body when you get into that game."


Player to watch

Kailer Yamamoto made a big impact after he was recalled from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Dec. 29. Playing mostly on a line with Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the 21-year-old forward scored 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) and led Edmonton with a plus-17 rating in 27 games. 

Video: EDM@CHI: Draisaitl feeds Yamamoto for goal


Biggest question

Can the Oilers continue their proficency on special teams? Edmonton was first in the NHL on the power play (29.5 percent) and second on the penalty kill (84.4 percent) during the regular season. Chicago struggled on the power play, ranking 28th (15.2 percent), and was eighth on the penalty kill (82.1 percent).


Injury updates

Joakim Nygard, F -- Expected to be ready for camp after having surgery on his broken right hand Jan. 29.

Mike Green, D -- Sprained his MCL on Feb. 26; has opted out due to family health concerns.


Fresh face

William Lagesson made his NHL debut after being recalled from Bakersfield on Dec. 29. The 24-year-old defenseman didn't have a point in eight games with Edmonton but did score 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 25 AHL games. The Oilers have several options at defenseman, so it's unlikely Lagesson would play in the qualifier, but camp will give him the opportunity to impress his coaches. 


Telling stat

Draisaitl scored 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 games during the 2017 playoffs. He is one of five players to score at least 16 in his first 13 playoff games with the Oilers, joining Wayne Gretzky (28 points), Glenn Anderson (18), Jari Kurri (18), and Bernie Nicholls (17).

Video: Leon Draisaitl is Hart Trophy front-runner


They said it

"[Chicago is] a team with a lot of experience still. They've won, they have that experience of how to win hockey games, playoff series. I think it'll be a good matchup, a good series, and we're looking to obviously win that." -- forward Leon Draisaitl


Projected lineup

Tyler Ennis -- Connor McDavid -- Zack Kassian

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Leon Draisaitl -- Kailer Yamamoto

Andreas Athanasiou -- Riley Sheahan -- Josh Archibald

James Neal -- Jujhar Khaira -- Alex Chiasson

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Darnell Nurse -- Ethan Bear

Kris Russell -- Caleb Jones

Mike Smith

Mikko Koskinen

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