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IN DEPTH: Role Model

Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira and Hockey Night Punjabi are growing the sport within Canada's South Asian community

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

The Foreword

By Harbs Bains, President, Surrey Minor Hockey Association

I met Jujhar earlier this year. The Surrey Minor Hockey Association was hosting a tournament with teams from China and Korea.

When the China team was in town, we were playing at a rink in Burnaby and Jujhar, along with some other NHL players, were there working out and practicing.

A couple of our Surrey kids noticed Jujhar, so I went over, introduced myself and asked him if he would mind coming over and saying hi to the kids. Not only did he come, but he brought a couple of other guys with him.

The kids loved it. He went to the China team dressing room, I introduced him to the coaches and all the parents came in to take photos. He did a wonderful job. 

And then he came over to the Surrey dressing room. The kids all knew who he was, shook his hand, got autographs and took lots of pictures. He was fantastic. I know he was tired, because he had just come off a workout, but he took his time and said whenever we needed something he'd do his best to help us out.

It was a cross-cultural experience and meant so much to those kids, no matter what ethnic background they were. I don't know who had a better time, him or the kids. 

He's a great ambassador for the Edmonton Oilers, a great ambassador for the sport of hockey and a great young man.

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BLOG: Rockets add Draisaitl to mural wall

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - There's a new addition to the wall outside the Kelowna Rockets locker room at Prospera Place and you'll definitely recognize him.

The Rockets recently added a portrait of Leon Draisaitl to their mural of past players, paying homage to the now-Oilers forward who suited up in the Okanagan in 2014-15.

Tweet from @Reganrant: .@Drat_29 has really made it as an all-time great of @Kelowna_Rockets with this new portrait outside the dressing room at Prospera Place. pic.twitter.com/RjIHxiLq8W

After getting dealt from the Prince Alberta Raiders upon his assignment from the Oilers to the Western Hockey League, the 2014 third-overall NHL draft pick scored 53 points in 32 regular season games with the Rockets.

He then tallied 28 points in 19 playoff games to help Kelowna capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup league championship before winning the Memorial Cup MVP award with seven points in five games.

Unfortunately, the Rockets lost to the Oshawa Generals in the national championship game, but Draisaitl certainly made a lasting impression on the Rockets before moving back to pro hockey in a full-time capacity.

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BLOG: Chiarelli and McLellan on Expansion Draft

With the Expansion Draft coming up on Wednesday, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan comment on this year's unique proceedings

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

The end of June is always an exciting time in the League with the Stanley Cup Final, followed by the NHL Awards, then the NHL Draft, which leads into the free agency period beginning July 1.

Video: NHL AWARDS | Peter Chiarelli

With the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights as an expansion team, however, this week's proceedings are even more intriguing. The Knights will announce tomorrow which player they've selected from each of the other 30 teams, in addition to any trades they've executed.

Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli said during Tuesday's NHL Awards media availability in Las Vegas that he's had discussions with the Golden Knights, but "maybe not as much as other teams."

"It's not top of list for us, it's on the list," he said. "For some teams it was, with the age of their players and their protect situations… It's just another piece to the puzzle when you're trying to map out your roster for the coming year… I think maybe what the Expansion Draft has done is it's sparked us to get a jump-start on the normal discussions."

Head Coach Todd McLellan has, of course, been involved in those discussions alongside Chiarelli and the Oilers management team. He said he's noticed an increase from previous seasons with the added wrinkle of expansion.

"There's a lot more going on right now than what normally happens this time of year," McLellan said. "There's always some discussion about moving up or down in the Draft, and you're starting to tweak your teams at this point. But there's a lot more action going on, there's a lot more discussion, the phone's ringing a lot more often. It's an exciting time right now. It's an anxious time for players and coaching staffs. There's a new team coming into the League and nobody knows what it's going to look like until tomorrow night."

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BLOG: NHL Awards honours signify team growth

Oilers representatives at the NHL Awards view their nominations as testaments to team success

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

Connor McDavid, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan may be representing the Oilers as finalists at the NHL Awards, but they view these honours as a testament to the growth and improvement the team achieved during the 2016-17 season.

Video: NHL AWARDS | Todd McLellan

As the NHL's leading scorer with 100 points, McDavid will accept the Art Ross Trophy at tomorrow's ceremony in Las Vegas. He is also a finalist for the Hart Trophy most valuable player award and the Ted Lindsay Award, voted on by the NHLPA for the League's most outstanding player. 

McLellan is a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, while Chiarelli is nominated for general manager of the year.

"The fact that we're here means the organization as a whole had a good season," McLellan said. "It takes a team to reach the point that we did this season. It wasn't just one man or one coach or one manager."

"It's an honour," Chiarelli echoed. "It's a reflection of our team, our coach and our players."

McDavid offered praise for both Chiarelli and McLellan for their work building and guiding the team, respectively.

"It's a testament to both of those guys and the work they've done," the captain said of the NHL Awards nods. "Todd's system is one that took us a little bit of time to learn, but once we did I think you saw how successful it can be. And Peter pulling the trigger on some pretty difficult deals and having them work out. It's a credit to those two."

The 20-year-old phenom didn't forget about his teammates either, acknowledging them for helping him elevate his game to an elite level this past season.

"I'm here but the thing I think about all the time is how lucky I am to be able play with the guys I do and the team I have around me," McDavid said. "It's so special to be able to play with those guys."

The NHL Awards and Expansion Draft will be held Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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BLOG: Chiarelli & McLellan on goalie interference

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

For the second game in a row, the Anaheim Ducks scored a pivotal goal that was reviewed for goaltender interference and ultimately upheld, leading to a pair of 4-3 Oilers overtime losses.

In Game 4 on Wednesday at Rogers Place, Edmonton led 2-0 after the first period before Ryan Getzlaf got the Ducks on the board with a wrist shot through traffic in the middle frame. That traffic was Corey Perry cutting through the crease and seemingly making contact with Cam Talbot's skate and blocker.

The Oilers issued a coach's challenge to review the play, but the officials deemed there was not sufficient evidence of interference to overturn the call. Anaheim scored three straight goals before prevailing in OT.

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BLOG: Oilers shift focus to Game 6

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers are hoping they can force history to repeat itself as they trail 3-2 in their second-round series with the Anaheim Ducks.

The last four Ducks playoff exits have unfolded the exact same way. They were defeated in Game 6 on the road before being eliminated in Game 7 at home.

With back-to-back heartbreaking 4-3 overtime losses behind them, the Oilers are focused on tying the series at Rogers Place tomorrow and forcing a deciding seventh game on Wednesday.

"We know what's at stake, and you don't have to have a lot of experience to figure that out," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "You've got to come and play. The one thing that our players will be told and need to understand is you don't have to win two games tomorrow, you only have to win one. That's our goal and we'll see what happens after that."

Whether it's been responding from a poor performance or battling back from an in-game deficit, resiliency has been one of Edmonton's greatest strengths this season. Coach McLellan expects that trend to continue on Sunday with their season on the line.

"It speaks to the leadership in the room and the belief system we've built," he said. "It hasn't gone our way throughout the season at certain points, but we always responded."

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GAME STORY: Ducks 4, Oilers 3 (2OT) - Game 5

A three-goal rally by Anaheim late in the third period paved the way for a double overtime setback in Game 5

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

Video: OILERS TODAY | Game 5 Post-Game

ANAHEIM, CA - The Oilers were 3:26 away from pulling off a gusty, improbable victory in Game 5 against the Anaheim Ducks, but it wasn't meant to be on this night as the home team made an equally improbable third-period rally and won 4-3 in double overtime to go up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

Despite losing one of their top defencemen early in the first period when Andrej Sekera left the game with an apparent lower-body injury, the Oilers rattled off three goals in the middle frame from Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Drake Caggiula, maintaining a 3-0 advantage into the waning minutes of regulation.

Video: EDM Recap: Oilers falter late, lose 4-3 in 2OT

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PREVIEW: Oilers at Ducks - Game 5

In today's Boston Pizza Preview, the Oilers visit the Anaheim Ducks looking to regain the series lead

by Ryan Frankson & Marc Ciampa / EdmontonOilers.com

 Video: OILERS TODAY | Game 5 Preview

The Oilers head back on the road tonight for Game 5 of their best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal series with the Anaheim Ducks. 

You can watch the game across Canada on Sportsnet or listen via 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network. 

Read the game preview below and check back throughout the day for lineup updates, quotes, our Morning Skate Report, videos and more including our Pre-Game Show. 

Video: PART 1 | Oilers Coverage

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BLOG: Darnell's development

Coach McLellan talks about the growth of Darnell Nurse after his first playoff series

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

Head Coach Todd McLellan had plenty of praise for young defenceman Darnell Nurse following his first career playoff series.

The 22-year-old blueliner played more than 22 minutes in each of the final two games against the San Jose Sharks, while chipping in with an assist, +1 rating and eight shots in the series.

And with workhorse Oscar Klefbom unable to play during the third period of Game 6 due to an illness, Nurse had to step up even more, logging 9:13 in the final frame including 2:18 on the penalty kill.

"You talk about growth, experience and learning quickly on the fly, he handled himself extremely well," McLellan said. "He was big and strong, making poised plays and being physical around the net. All qualities we needed to finish that team off and we're going to need it moving forward."

The learning curve had to be steep for the young Oilers squad in the opening round, with just a handful of players possession prior post-season experience.

"Early in the series, a lot of us were just getting into the groove of playing in the playoffs," Nurse said. "A lot of us haven't played at the pace we were playing at in that series and the atmospheres we were playing in. That's two buildings that bring a great atmosphere every night and you have to try to control your emotions. It was definitely a good, strong finish, but there's a new challenge coming up."

Nurse played 32 career Ontario Hockey League playoff games as a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

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BLOG: New series, new challenge

Oilers look ahead to their next opponent, Anaheim

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers took Saturday night in San Jose to enjoy their first-round victory over the Sharks, but the focus quickly shifted to their second-round opponent as the team spoke to the media Sunday morning before flying home.

Thanks to their first-round sweep of the Calgary Flames, the Anaheim Ducks awaited the winner of the Oilers-Sharks series. The top two Pacific Division squads from the regular season will now square off for a berth in the Western Conference Final against either the St. Louis Blues or Nashville Predators.

"Last night we enjoyed it, we deserved it, we beat a good San Jose team," said Zack Kassian, who scored two game-winning goals in the opening series. "But it doesn't get any easier with the Anaheim Ducks. We're looking forward to the challenge and I know everyone is excited."

The Oilers and Ducks got to know each other quite well during the regular season, squaring off five times, with Edmonton winning three of the divisional matchups and outscoring Anaheim 14-12.

Despite the season series victory, the Oilers know they have their hands full against a well-rested, physical Ducks squad that has won eight consecutive games including the sweep of the Flames. Their last loss came on April 1 in Edmonton as the Oilers won 3-2 in overtime.

"They're rested, so that certainly works in their favour," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "They're an experienced team. They've got a tremendous amount of confidence… They're certainly playing at their peak. They have players that have gone through it, and as good as they are offensively, they check just as well… Our task will be tough, but that's what happens when you get down to eight teams."

"We have to take our game to a new level," echoed defenceman Darnell Nurse. "That's definitely going to be the main focus. It's going to be a different series… Anaheim is a big, strong team that's going to try to engage and get us off our game."

The Oilers will not have home-ice advantage this series, playing the first two games in Orange County before returning to the friendly confines of Rogers Place.

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