This year the Oilers home opener is garnering a lot of excitement, as it launches the Oilers inaugural season at Rogers Place. With the Oilers moving into their new hockey abode this fall, it will mark the first of many home openers to take place in the new arena. But this season brings with it more than just a new building. Here are five games, features or things to know about the Oilers 2016-17 schedule.
1. BATTLE OF ALBERTA
As it stands, the Oilers are 96 days away from their first pre-season game at Rogers Place. But it's the 112-day countdown most fans are eager to see arrive as the Oilers will open their season in a new building with a home-and-home series against the Calgary Flames.
The historic Battle of Alberta kicks off in Edmonton on October 12, before the Oilers travel south to play their provincial rivals two days later. Last season, the Oilers were 2-3-0 against the Flames. With a fresh start to a new season, and new digs to match, Edmonton will be eager to welcome their long-time rivals.
2. HERITAGE CLASSIC
The excitement this season is not limited to games at Rogers Place. The Oilers will travel to Winnipeg to face off against the Jets in the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic on October 23, at Investors Group Field.
This game is particularly special as it will be the Oilers second time participating since hosting the 2003 Molson Canadian Heritage Classic. Not only was it the first regular season outdoor game in NHL history, but it was held to commemorate the Oilers 25th season since joining the NHL and the 20th anniversary of their first Stanley Cup win (1984). Despite -18 C temperatures (-30 C with the wind chill) more than 55,000 fans were in attendance at Commonwealth Stadium.
3. OILERS AND THE SIX
The Oilers will kick off the month of November in Toronto. It will be an exciting game as Oilers forward Connor McDavid, a Newmarket, ON native, will not only play his first game in Toronto - he was injured for last November's trip to the Tdot - but he will also face off against the Leafs presumptive 2016 first-overall pick, Auston Matthews.
When Edmonton hosted Toronto in February last season, it was a highly anticipated game, as it was just McDavid's second game back since returning from a shoulder injury he sustained earlier that season. McDavid went on to have a five-point night (2G, 3A) while Oilers forward Jordan Eberle secured his first NHL-career hat trick for a 5-2 victory.
4. MAJOR MATCH-UP: PENGUINS VS. OILERS
It was said before the 2015 NHL Draft, that McDavid is the best prospect to come into the NHL since Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby. Although Sidney Crosby versus Connor McDavid hasn't been blown up in the media (yet) like McDavid versus Jack Eichel, it's been a long awaited game in the making and will certainly make for an interesting matchup.
Last season, McDavid was unable to play against Crosby and the Penguins due to a shoulder injury he sustained against the Philadelphia Flyers, - three days before Pittsburgh was to arrive in Edmonton - which sidelined the rookie for 12 weeks. The Oilers first showdown with the Stanley Cup Champions will be on Pittsburgh home ice on November 8. You can see the soon-to-be-frenemies in action when Edmonton hosts the Penguins at Rogers Place on March 10.
5. NHL "BYE WEEK"
Meanwhile, the 2016-17 season will also see a new feature for all teams across the board. The NHL has worked in a five-day "bye week", as part of the negotiation with the NHL Players' Association. In return for accepting the three-on-three All-Star Game format, the league implemented the break for each team's schedule. The "bye week" for the Oilers will run from February 6-10 where players will be completely off with no games and practice during the break.