The Edmonton Oilers announced Sunday the club has signed defenceman Oscar Klefbom to a seven-year contract extension.
Klefbom, 22, recorded 20 points (2G, 18A) and four penalty minutes in 60 games last season with Edmonton. He ranked second among Oilers defencemen in points (20) and time on ice (21:59), setting career highs in both categories. He also ranked third among Oilers defencemen in blocked shots (102).
Hiller Ortio EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers will travel to Calgary with a group headlined by Benoit Pouliot, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle up front. While Connor McDavid stays in Edmonton, the roster heading to Calgary boasts possibly the more interesting blueline of the two squads.
YOUNG DEFENCE CONTINUES BATTLE
Darnell Nurse, 20, and Griffin Reinhart, 21, will continue to try and make their best impressions to the Oilers brass as they compete for roster spots. There are some nerves, as the two play their first game in some time.
“A little bit,” said Reinhart. “I know it doesn’t count towards anything for the season, but you’re never in game shape until you’ve played a few games and that’s just natural. It may takes a few shifts or a period to get your legs under you and moving again. There are a few tendencies or habits that you miss during the summer and you’ve got to get back into those good habits. Hopefully, it will go quick for me.”
For Nurse, tonight is all about showing what he can’t in camp practices. A big part of his game is his physical presence, something Calgary will likely get when taking on the 2013 seventh-overall pick.
“Camp is really good to get your conditioning and things like that together, but it’s time to show what you can do in games. It’s definitely different playing against guys in different jerseys,” said Nurse.
Matt Hendricks is one of the seasoned vets heading to Calgary with this group. He said he doesn’t feel the need to settle down nerves or talk to any of the young players ahead of the game, specifically Nurse and Reinhart.
“They know what they need to do,” said Hendricks. “This is one of the things each player goes through, especially at a younger age. You’ve got to learn from these times. It’s a great experience for them and I’m just going to let them do what they do because they’re pretty good hockey players.”
Everyone wants to win games, regardless of whether they count in the standings. However, pre-season is more of a time for personal goals when it comes to gelling as a line or with your defensive partners. It is also a time to shine for the coaches and staff when you’re locked in a battle for a spot. For Nurse and Reinhart, it’s more the latter. For Hendricks, it’s the former.
He looks to mesh more with his projected regular season linemates, Mark Letestu and Lauri Korpikoski.
“They’re two good players that give us a lot of opportunity in the offensive zone. I think we seem to hem teams in with our work ethic. Just be a hard, grinding line tonight and play within ourselves and be great on the penalty kill,” said Hendricks.
Nurse wants to make an impact, but not let emotions run too high and try and do too much.
“Just go out there and work hard and not try to do too much but try to make an impact at the same time. Just play solid and go out there and try to make a difference,” said Nurse.
Reinhart has similar aspirations for tonight.
“Just play good defensively,” he said. “I haven’t actually personally seen the (Flames) roster but I’ve heard they’ve got quite a few good players in there so it’s a challenge for myself to prove to the coaching staff and general manager that I can play here.”
Regardless of what the roster makeup is going to Calgary, Hendricks expects a fast-paced game.
“A lot of competitiveness,” said Hendricks. “I think everyone is here to show their best hockey. Camp has been great so far, in terms of intensity, in terms of work ethic and detail. Now we get the chance to go out against a real opponent and show what we’ve been working on and see what we need to continue to work on as well.” -- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
Bouma - Backlund - Jones Klimchuk - Granlund - Agostino Colborne - Elson - Carroll Mangiapane - Grant - Hathaway
Russell - Wideman Wilson - Andersson Kylington - Engelland
Ramo McDonald EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers kick off the home portion of their pre-season schedule tonight against the Calgary Flames. Oilers head coach Todd McLellan will be behind the bench for the boys in blue at Rexall Place tonight and he's looking forward to the chance to get things going.
“It’s a free opportunity for everybody. A clean slate. A free opportunity. Our group as a whole, we’ve had three days to put some sort of foundation in. I want to see a competitive, hard group that’s playing the game, not thinking the game. Yet, trying to work towards some of the fundamentals we’ve put in place. Some of the positioning things, some of the core beliefs that we’ll have as a team,” McLellan began, adding he doesn't expect to see perfection immediately.
“We know that there’s going to be mistakes. Both teams are going to make them tonight and that’s going to present a number of good teaching opportunities for us.
“We’re looking for evidence now as a coaching staff. Pros and cons.”
McLellan was asked if the team would start to use power play units that fans might expect to see in regular season action but the coach quickly responded that that would not be the case.
“Tonight, no. Because of the split. There’s groups that are going to Calgary and groups that are staying here. We’ll try and put players in those situations where they normally would play there. But actual combinations and units, we won’t see that until later on.”
Another person making his debut tonight is a player by the name of Connor McDavid. He'll play on a line with Taylor Hall and Teddy Purcell in the game at Rexall Place. McLellan talked about his expectations of the 18-year-old forward.
“He has dealt with the attention and a title that’s been put on him fairly well to this point. It is the National Hockey League and things change at this point but just knowing the individual, the person, he’s just going to come and play and give us what he can give us,” McLellan stated.
“We don’t have to diminish our expectations of him internally. Externally, with the media and the fans, he’s going to have some nights where it doesn’t look so good but he’s also going to have some real good nights. We have to think back to Toews, Kane, Ovechkin, Sidney coming into the league. They were really talented players but they had some tough nights as players as well.”
McDavid was asked if he felt any nerves heading into the contest tonight.
“I don’t know if nervous is the right way to say it. I think just anxious and excited,” he said. “Those are the two words that come to mind, first and foremost. Just looking forward to it.”
He also talked about the chemistry that was shown with linemates Hall and Purcell, particularly in the scrimmages in Leduc on Saturday and Sunday.
“I think it’s been pretty good. We’ve played a couple good scrimmages. Obviously it’s not the same as a real game but I think we’re feeling more and more comfortable as a line. Hopefully that continues to grow.”
THE MORNING SKATE
McLellan was asked about morning skates and his philosophy of them as a head coach.
“For me, a game day skate — I hated them when I was a player, I didn’t want to come to the game day skate. I was nervous and it made me more nervous. I just wasted energy. So I know what it’s like on that side of the coin.
“Yet there’s others that swear by them. They need them. ‘It gets me ready, it’s the trigger point.’ So taking that into consideration, I believe that game day skates should be crisp, firm, repetitive. You should leave the rink feeling good. And when you keep the drills the same it almost gets machine-like and you feel ready to play.”
The bench boss feels that with time the team will really get into a good routine when it comes to the morning skate on game days.
“Today we were slow. We tried to establish what our skate will be during the year. It will take awhile. But once we get going, we should be fast, crisp, 12-15 minutes and off.”
THE COACHING SITUATION
As for the reasoning why McLellan felt it was better for him to coach the home game today, he explained himself.
“Bob Hartley and I met in Calgary. I think it’s important that a head coach stays. At least we’re in one spot and we’re responsible for the outcome of the game. I’ll be here in Edmonton. Bob will be there doing his thing in Calgary. We’ll ensure, at least at our end of it, that we see both games as a staff.”
The third pairing on defence for this group has Brad Hunt rotating in with Jordan Oesterle and Brandon Davidson. McLellan confirmed that Hunt would be the odd-man out for tonight's contest.
“Oesterle will play, Hunt won’t. Davidson will be in.”