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Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach blends speed with finesse and size, making him a highly-coveted top-10 option at the 2019 NHL Draft

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - If there's one prediction for the 2019 NHL Draft, it's to expect the unexpected.

The 2018 edition of the event proved as much when Jesperi Kotkaniemi was drafted third-overall by the Montreal Canadiens and the Arizona Coyotes surprised many by selecting forward Barrett Hayton at No. 5. 

Those picks swayed from the consensus and inadvertently shook the draft board in the latter half of the top-10.

NHL Draft prognosticators and analysts alike try their best to anticipate the picks that will be made but in the end, it's the team who decides, often muddying mock drafts.

Video: COMBINE | Kirby Dach

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BLOG: Holland staying the course with Puljujarvi

Oilers General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland sees Jesse Puljujarvi benefitting from a change in coaching and management, as well as a more consistent place in the lineup

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - When asked about Jesse Puljujarvi at a hot stove event with Oilers Season Seat Holders on Thursday night, General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland said he's prepared to allow the 21-year-old time to further adjust his game after experiencing some adversity in his first three NHL seasons.

The Oilers fourth-overall pick at the 2016 NHL Draft has recorded 37 points (17G, 20A) in 119 games with the NHL squad, adding a further 15 goals and 22 assists in 53 games in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors, and being forced to miss the final 19 games of the 2018-19 season in Edmonton due to season-ending hip surgery.

"I was on a radio show with Bob McCown at the [Draft] Lottery and Bob said to me, 'What's the hardest part about evaluating players for the Draft?' and I said trying to figure out how they're going to deal with adversity, because most of the players we're seeing at the age of 18 have had success," Holland said. "That's why they're in the Draft. They're the head of the class of their peer group, so adversity lies ahead and how they're going to deal with adversity and how the organization and the people are going to deal with adversity."

A new general manager and head coach in the fold has Holland bullish on a rebound for Puljujarvi, and the pair are ready to stay the course with their young Finnish forward.

"Jesse was obviously a player at fourth overall, an incredibly talented player, and he wakes up three years later at the age of 21 and the career hasn't gone the way everybody has expected it to go. We just have to stick with it," Holland said. "[Head Coach Dave Tippett] and I were talking about it yesterday, and Jesse was here yesterday. I spent about an hour with him talking.

"With Jesse, he's had lots of adversity and I'm hoping with a new general manager and a new head coach, being a little bit older, he's 21 and not 18 or 19, that we can get him in the lineup on an every-night basis and he can find some chemistry with some players and earn the coaches trust and become more and more important as we go forward."

Further progression for the forward begins with knowing he has a place in the lineup and developing by prioritizing incremental gains and chemistry with linemates, said Holland.

"You have to come to the rink every day and know your jersey is hanging," he said. "You're in the lineup. That's step one. What you do to be in the lineup, then you start to find chemistry with some players whether you're on the third line or fourth line, and you slowly work your way up the ladder to being more important.

"I think that's really hard for young players to understand, because as we go to the 2019 Draft here in [nine] days, we just had the Combine, all those players think they're going to be on the first or second line the next year or year after, and the reality is it can happen but it's not going to happen that quick. They're going to have some adversity along the way, and they have to learn how to deal with the adversity."

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BLOG: Holland highlights priorities ahead of NHL Draft, Free Agency

Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland outlined his priorities over the next few weeks as the NHL Draft and Free Agency loom

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Fielding questions from Oilers Season Seat Holders and local media at a hot stove event on Thursday night, Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland outlined his key priorities ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft and Free Agency period.

Vancouver is set to host this year's edition of the Draft, while Free Agency will open on July 1st.

Holland began by discussing the Draft then disclosed some of his plans for July.

"Well, obviously we got pick eight," Holland started. "We're going to get a really good player. That's the great news. We've got some good, young defencemen in the organization. When people talk philosophy, do you go for the best player, do you go for position? I think that there's a lot of players that are really close and I know that we're going to add a really good, young player to the organization."

The former Detroit Red Wings General Manager admitted that in this day and age, NHL executives prefer to make transactions at the Draft more than ever. Holland said his phone lines have been busy speaking to fellow managers across the League.

"At the same time, we need to make our team better for the '19-20 season," Holland continued. "I've been on the phone here for the last couple of weeks with general managers around the League. Any trades or moves that come in the NHL, for the most part, come when you're in Vancouver for the Draft. I've had an opportunity to understand what the other managers want to accomplish and what we're trying to accomplish. 

"We've got to get deeper up front and we certainly got to get another goaltender so we have a two-goaltender system. I think those are the most important things over the next ten days. Then obviously right after that, July 1st, is unrestricted Free Agency and we're certainly going to explore the market to see if there's a player or two that makes us better."

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BLOG: Holland provides McDavid update

Oilers General Manager & President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland expects the Oilers captain to be ready for training camp

by Staff /

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers General Manager & President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland provided an update Thursday evening on the rehab status of Oilers captain Connor McDavid at a hot stove event with Oilers senior management at Rogers Place.

"He's doing good. I've seen him twice this week," Holland said. "Ten days ago, I drove to Toronto and spent two and a half or three hours with Connor having lunch and talking to him. Then this week on Monday, I was in Toronto for two days, Tuesday with the Competition Committee but I went up on Monday to spend time with Connor again and see where he works out. He's doing good. He's rehabbing.

Holland continued: "I expect to see him on the ice at training camp. [We're] working very closely with our medical team and the medical people that he's got in Toronto to make sure he's getting the best care possible. He's in great spirits. I really enjoyed meeting him. It was the first time that I'd really got to spend more than just shaking his hand in the hallway as a visiting team. He's doing great and looking forward to being on the ice at training camp."

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Count Yukon product Dylan Cozens amongst intriguing forwards projected to go inside the top 10

by Cait MacPhail /

EDMONTON, AB - In a class chalk-full of intriguing and skilled forwards with varying skill-sets, you'll be hard-pressed to find two mock drafts where the top 10 looks exactly the same with the 2019 NHL Draft just weeks away.

With the likes of a pure scorer in Cole Caufield, crafty playmaker Trevor Zegras or the speedy and versatile centre Alex Turcotte, it's shaping up to be a pick-your-poison situation for forwards available in this year's first round. And another that has worked himself into the conversation is the lean, tall, two-way workhorse centre Dylan Cozens of the WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes, NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked North American skater.

Video: COMBINE | Dylan Cozens 

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RELEASE: Oilers announce 2019 pre-season schedule

The Edmonton Oilers will begin the 2019-20 season with a seven-game pre-season schedule

by Press Release /

EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers will begin the 2019-20 season with a seven-game pre-season schedule.

The Oilers open their 2019 pre-season schedule with a set of back-to-back games. The Oilers play host to the Winnipeg Jets on September 16 and travel to Vancouver on September 17 to face the Canucks.

Following those back-to-back games, the Oilers return to Rogers Place to face the Vancouver Canucks on September 19 and the Calgary Flames on September 20 in a back-to-back set, as well as host the Arizona Coyotes on September 24. The Oilers conclude the preseason schedule with two road games on September 26 against Winnipeg and September 28 in Calgary.

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BLOG: Woodcroft excited to continue growing as a coach with Condors

The Bakersfield bench boss will continue to develop as a head coach alongside a young and budding team after signing an extension in Bakersfield on Wednesday

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - Last April, after 13 seasons in the NHL as an assistant coach, Jay Woodcroft took his first head coaching job with the Bakersfield Condors.

He hasn't looked back, and continues moving forward following his first year being a bench boss under his belt.

Positive progression for the Condors this season in the form of a 42-21-3-2 record and a Western Conference title before finishing their first Calder Cup Playoff appearance in the Pacific Division Final earned the 42-year-old a three-year extension in Bakersfield on Wednesday to continue expanding his ability as a head coach and fostering a positive environment for the Oilers AHL affiliate.

"Last year when I was presented with the opportunity, I was excited about it," Woodcroft, speaking to Bob Stauffer and Oilers Now on 630CHED this afternoon, said. "I felt like I studied for 13 years to take a test, worked on building a resume in the coaching world, and earning a reputation by how I conduct my business on a daily basis.

"For me, the ability to do that in Bakersfield knowing the quality of players we have down there, knowing I had the autonomy to build the staff the way I wanted it to be built, it was very exciting for me. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with."

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Defenceman Philip Broberg's stock is increasing ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Much like his stretched scale, Swedish defenceman and 2019 NHL Draft hopeful Philip Broberg's stock continues to rise.

For good reason.

The 17-year-old prospective first-round selection isn't short on tools, which include his 6-foot-3, 191-pound frame as well as the ability to grace the ice with exceptional skating.

Video: COMBINE | Philip Broberg

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RELEASE: Oilers agree to contract extension with Woodcroft

The Edmonton Oilers announced they have agreed to terms with Jay Woodcroft on a contract extension through the 2021-22 season

by Press Release /

EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers announced they have agreed to terms with Jay Woodcroft on a contract extension through the 2021-22 season. 

Woodcroft, 42, spent the past season as head coach of the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors, and previously served as an Oilers assistant coach for three seasons, after joining the Oilers staff in 2015. Prior to the Oilers, Woodcroft served as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks for seven seasons. He also spent three seasons as a member of the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff (2005-08), including their 2008 Stanley Cup Championship season.

Video: THE DRILL | E10: Bakersfield

In his first season as head coach, Woodcroft led the Condors to their first Calder Cup Playoff berth in 2018-19, after capturing the Western Conference title with 89 points, for a 42-21-3-2 record and a 0.654 winning percentage. The Condors also tied for the second longest win streak in AHL history with 17 straight wins during the 2018-19 regular season. Woodcroft also led the Condors to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, with a 5-5-0-0 record in 10 games.

Internationally, Woodcroft won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2015 Men's World Hockey Championship. He was also an assistant coach for the under-23 Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Over his NHL coaching career, Woodcroft has been part of 511 regular season wins, five Western Conference titles, six Division titles, three Presidents Trophies and a Stanley Cup championship.

Video: CONDORS | Woodcroft's Craft 02.14.19

Woodcroft entered the NHL coaching ranks in 2005-06, after a six-year professional playing career.

The Toronto, Ontario native spent four seasons at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, where he was an Academic All-American and graduated with a degree in finance.

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BLOG: Keith Gretzky remaining with Oilers

Edmonton Oilers General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland announced that Keith Gretzky is remaining with the Oilers in the role of Assistant General Manager

by Staff /

EDMONTON, AB - Edmonton Oilers General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland announced that Keith Gretzky is remaining with the Oilers in the role of Assistant General Manager.

"I think it's a great opportunity for myself to learn from somebody else who's been in the game for so long," Gretzky told Oilers Now Host Bob Stauffer on Tuesday. 

"I'm really looking forward to it."

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: #Oilers General Manager & President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland announces that Keith Gretzky will remain with the team in the role of Assistant General Manager.

Gretzky will hold the title of Bakersfield Condors General Manager but maintained he will still have a pulse on decisions when the Oilers management group hits the podium in Vancouver, B.C., for the 2019 NHL Draft.

"I'll run Bakersfield and I'll be the general manager down there," the 52-year-old said. "It's a great opportunity and I think Mac (Craig MacTavish) did a great job. I'm there to help Jay and his staff and build the team to success."

Gretzky was hired on July 2, 2016, after spending five years with the Boston Bruins

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