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OFF-SEASON OIL: Training ramps up

Stay up-to-date on the Oilers off-season action via social media as they document their summer training sessions and more

by Cait MacPhail /

Edmonton, AB - September is inching closer which means on-ice training is ramping up and we've rounded up all the social media action for you in one place. Get jacked for October by getting a glimpse into what the Oilers have been up to including skills camps they have attended, and even hosted, in the latest edition of Off-Season Oil.

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BLOG: Sekera out indefinitely

Oilers defenceman Andrej Sekera will be sidelined indefinitely following an off-season injury, undergoing successful surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn achilles tendon

by Staff /

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers defenceman Andrej Sekera will be sidelined indefinitely following an off-season injury, undergoing successful surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn achilles tendon.

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: #Oilers d-man Andrej Sekera underwent successful surgery today to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Sekera was injured during an off-season training session & will be sidelined indefinitely.

Sekera, 32, posted eight points in 32 games on the blue-line for the Oilers during an injury-shortened season in 2017-18 before posting a goal and two assists in seven games with Slovakia at this year's IIHF World Championships in Denmark.

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BLOG: NBC televising seven Oilers games in 2018-19

Oilers will face Tampa Bay, San Jose, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and others on U.S. network

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Who doesn't love a call from the Doc?

NBC and NBCSN announced its 2018-19 NHL schedule on Monday and the Oilers will be featured on the network seven times, facing teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils, among others.

"We have dug deep to make sure we are touching all the right markets," said NBC and NBC Sports President and Executive Producer Sam Flood. "We are touching Canada in a way we never have before."

Out of all the Canadian markets, the Oilers will be shown the most. Toronto is slated to be televised on the network six times, Winnipeg five, Calgary twice and Montreal once. The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks are the only two clubs to not be aired.

The Oilers first match on the network will be on Nov. 6, against the Lightning. Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby will meet on Feb. 13, 2019, and the Oilers will battle Taylor Hall and the Devils on Mar. 13.

"It's a new world," said Flood. "We need to embrace and celebrate those teams more than we ever have before. It doesn't take away from those great Pittsburgh-Philadelphia games and Bruins-Canadiens games. We will keep doing those, but we have to lean into some different matchups."

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Stay up-to-date on the Oilers off-season adventures via social media

by Cait MacPhail /

EDMONTON, AB - Being well into August means being well into the dog days of summer and while it's still hot, the longing for some ice grows stronger. Catch up with Oilers players and prospects via social media as their training heats up and summer winds down with just over a month before main camp opens in mid-September. 

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BLOG: Power-play to emphasize skill over handedness

Oilers coaching staff prioritizing firepower over following lefty-righty template to reverse club fortunes with the man-advantage

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - You can mix and match, or just choose one.

With the likes of Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic and Oscar Klefbom all left shots, the majority of the Oilers offensive firepower on the man-advantage comes from one side.

One thing the Oilers coaching staff is prepared to do this 2018-19 NHL season is stay away from a righty-lefty template when it comes on the power-play, and there's a proven path.

"Manny [Viveiros] is going to do most the work in that area," assistant coach Glen Gulutzan said to Bob Stauffer and Oilers NOW on Thursday afternoon. "But I think the one thing just with the lefties we have, if you look at Detroit three years ago they had a very dynamic power play. I think they ran at 21 percent and were all lefties.

"They had Zetterberg, they had Datsyuk, they had Kronwall, they had Tatar and they had Nyquist - all those guys being left shots. They were very dynamic in the way they played."

With the Oilers league-low power-play percentage of 14.8 percent last season, improving the man-advantage was a hot topic of discussion for the coaching staff this summer. A fresh palate of opinions in the likes of Gulutzan, Yawney and Viveiros and an emphasis on skill is their recipe for reversing the club's fortunes with an extra man.

"We went over all that stuff in July but I think it's going to be important for the three new coaches here just to get our feet wet with the skillset of the players," Gulutzan added. "You can run those power-plays and they have been run with great success in the League with all lefties and all righties."

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BLOG: New coaches to bring new style of play

"There are going to be some concrete changes. Probably the biggest is maybe something that Todd brought to the table," said Oilers Assistant Coach Glen Gulutzan

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Change can be good.

The Oilers new-look coaching staff - which features Glen Gulutzan, Trent Yawney, Manny Viveiros and Head Coach Todd McLellan - are prepared to make a few adjustments in the upcoming 2018-19 season regarding the style of game the Oilers ice. The bench bosses had a meeting in July where they spoke of strategies to introduce next campaign.

"There are going to be some concrete changes," Gulutzan told 630 CHED's Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer on Thursday. "Probably the biggest is maybe something that Todd brought to the table."

Gulutzan believes he and Yawney can provide McLellan with a fresh perspective after coming over from other Western Conference clubs. Gulutzan was formerly the head coach of the Calgary Flames and Yawney was the defence coach for the Anaheim Ducks.

"There are going to be some visible changes a little bit in style of play," he said. "Obviously, Trent is taking over the penalty kill and I think there will be some changes there. But in the 5-on-5 play is probably where we're going to go with things that are going to speed up the rate at which we play. 

"Without going too deep into it, probably one of the bigger changes that I've seen in the National Hockey League, we're going to change a little bit here. We think it's really going to speed up our pace of play."

Gulutzan finished by listing the areas that could look noticeably different.

"Maybe our transition, forecheck and the way we defend," he added. "It's not anything too different than maybe two or three teams have employed throughout our League but we think it's going to suit our guys really well."

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BLOG: Gretzky offers advice to Hlinka Gretzky Cup players

"I would give them the same advice Gordie Howe gave me: you got to be the hardest working player every night. If you work hard, good things happen," said The Great One

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Standing before a semi-circle of cameras and media members in the Oilers Hall of Fame Room on Wednesday, Oilers Entertainment Group Partner and Vice Chair Wayne Gretzky provided advice to this year's Hlinka Gretzky Cup players competing in Edmonton and Red Deer.

"We don't know the future for any of these kids but I would give them the same advice Gordie Howe gave me: you got to be the hardest working player every night. If you work hard, good things happen," said The Great One, who holds 40 all-time regular season NHL records.

Gretzky furthered his notion by relating it to a few of his former Oilers teammates.

"I've always found that guys who love the game the most work the hardest and put the most time in," he continued. "It's not a big secret why Mark Messier or Paul Coffey, why those guys are in the Hall of Fame: because they loved to play. Each and every game, the bigger the game, the more excited they got and the better they played.

"That's what you want to get out of kids."

Video: RAW | Wayne Gretzky

Gretzky, who finished his career with 894 goals, 1963 assists and 2857 points in 1487 games, said he had a chance to speak with some of the players before the tournament started.

"I met with the kids before Game 1 and said, 'This is something you're never going to forget. Work hard and you're going to love it. It's a great game.'"

The four-time Stanley Cup champion couldn't help but praise Rogers Place as the marquee facility for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which returns to Canada for the first time since 1996 when it was held in Nelson and Castlegar, BC.

"This arena is probably the most beautiful hockey arena in North America," Gretzky added. "For the kids to come in here to get a chance to play in this arena, I know if I was 16 and 17, I would be pretty excited about it."

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BLOG: Gretzky ventures into China to grow game

OEG Partner & Vice Chair Wayne Gretzky was named Global Ambassador of the KHL's Kunlun Red Star on Wednesday

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Wayne Gretzky did it once and can do it again.

Cultivate the game of hockey in a new area, that is.

Gretzky was named Global Ambassador of the Kontinental Hockey League's Kunlun Red Star on Wednesday and talked of his upcoming trip to China to run youth camps.

"The Chinese people and Chinese business community have really rallied around ice hockey because they're hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics," Gretzky said in the Oilers Hall of Fame Room, detailing his excursion. 

Video: RAW | Wayne Gretzky

"They really want to have a good showing, so they built these academies. So, we're going to go over, my son and I, and we're going to do a little hockey academy there. We're going to see about building ice rinks in China. And, it turns out there is an NHL game when we're there. So, we'll get to see a game. It's going to be a fun trip. I've never been to China."

The Oilers Entertainment Group Partner and Vice Chair described the size of the prospective market in China, noting his ambition to continue expanding it from the grassroots level.

"Somebody told me that last year Game 6 between Pittsburgh and Nashville had 36 million people in China that watched. It shows you what size of a market it is. Good on the NHL to realize that. They've stepped in, they've been over there last year and are really trying to put a little bit of an imprint our game and our sport in China.

"It helps our game get bigger."

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BLOG: Gretzky commemorates Stan Mikita

OEG Partner & Vice Chair Wayne Gretzky recited his fond memories of Stan Mikita on Wednesday

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers Entertainment Group Partner and Vice Chair Wayne Gretzky remembered Hall of Famer Stan Mikita on Wednesday, sharing a few memorable stories he encountered over his time with the former Chicago Blackhawks centre.

"It's a sad day for his family, the players, teammates and fans in Chicago," Gretzky started. "I think he was one of my dad's favourite players. And so, the very first game I played, in my first faceoff, I got to go against Stan Mikita. I thought that was pretty cool.

"But you know what, he just was a special guy. Not too many guys in the game of hockey have had the most penalty minutes and then won the Lady Byng, and then won the scoring race and the Hart Trophy, so good on him."

Video: RAW | Wayne Gretzky

The Great One continued his praise for the Blackhawks' all-time assists and points leader, commenting on his inventive additions to the game of hockey.

"He was great for our sport and he was innovative," he added. "Probably was a big part of bringing the curved stick to hockey today. But most importantly, he was very much liked by his teammates and had a tremendous family."

Gretzky recalled Mikita's distinct style on the ice, later sharing a final story of the two golfing together. 

"I couldn't wear the helmet, it looked too heavy. And the stick was too big of a curve," he said. 

"I'll tell you one thing: I played golf with him a couple times and he was one of the great golfers as a hockey player. He was like a one-handicap. I played with him in Chicago one year. I must have shot close to 100 and I think he was a 71 or 72. It was pretty embarrassing."

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BLOG: Opportunity aplenty at wing for Rieder and Puljujarvi

Oilers President of Hockey Operations and GM Peter Chiarelli spoke to the opportunity available at wing and the potential for breakout years from Tobias Rieder and Jesse Puljujarvi

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - With solid depth down the middle at centre with the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Kyle Brodziak, there's plenty to prove on their wings for the Edmonton Oilers.

An opportunity for free-agent signing and winger Tobias Rieder to slot in on the flank of his fellow German countryman Draisaitl this upcoming NHL season has Oilers President of Hockey Operations and GM Peter Chiarelli optimistic on the 25-year-old's potential for a breakout year offensively.

"I think his game has that platform," Chiarelli said to Bob Stauffer and Oilers Now on Tuesday afternoon. "He hasn't done it yet, but he has speed, he has something to prove, he's still young and can play both sides.

"The opportunity is there for him. He does have the offensive capacity although he hasn't done it yet. He's shown flashes. He's a terrific penalty-killer too, and that hasn't been said as much."

Right-wing Jesse Puljujarvi continues to adapt to life in North America and make progress moulding his game as an NHL professional with opportunity aplenty for the 20-year-old drafted fourth overall in 2016.

"Where he was picked [in the draft] people expect more immediate returns," Chairelli said of the Finnish forward. "He's shown a lot of progress, he's getting more mature. We tend to forget he's a northern Finn and he still has that maturation process going as far as living in North America and being a professional.

"This kid's a horse, he can score, he's still learning, and his learning curve maybe is a bit more shallow than some of the guys drafted around him, but he'll be there in the end and I think you're going to see big things from him this season."

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