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FUTURE WATCH: Size a constant among Oilers prospective blueliners

"It's not always the case, but the defence here are big and I think it shows what the Edmonton Oilers want," said 2018 first-rounder Evan Bouchard

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - If there was one constant shared between the defencemen that attended Oilers Development Camp, it was height.

All eight rearguards that participated in the annual event stood 6-feet or taller without skates on.

But most hover above that. 

Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov and Caleb Jones all see eye-to-eye from their 6-foot-2 standpoint, while Phil Kemp and Matthew Cairns do the same at their 6-foot-3 scale. Bakersfield Condors defender Logan Day is the shortest of the bunch, coming in at 6-foot-0. 

Oilers 2018 sixth-round selection Michael Kesselring edges over all aforementioned by way of a 6-foot-4 (and a half) measurement.

And then there's Providence College blueliner Vincent Desharnais, who looks down on the world from his 6-foot-7 perch.

"He's a monster," said Kemp.

Desharnais' scale, spurt and style showed each ice slot. Kemp and Co. looked to absorb as much as they could from the 22-year-old, who grew two inches since being drafted 183rd-overall in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"He's an experienced player going into his senior year in college," Kemp, the Yale University defenceman, added. "I just want to learn as much as I can from him. His stick positioning, his body positioning, how he goes into corners and comes out of corners is what I look at when he's on the ice. You try to pick up the little things and make yourself better."

Over the past few years at the Draft, the Oilers have targeted size. The last two selections to be chosen under 6-foot-0 were Jones and Ethan Bear in 2015, when both players were listed at 5-foot-11.

Kesselring knows he'll continue developing physically. Having fellow rearguards undergo the same evolution has helped him.

"He knew I was going to be a late bloomer because he was kind of a late bloomer himself," Kesselring said of his father, Casey. 

"But it's good to see other guys like that. I know I'm a little younger than some of the other kids here. They talked about how they developed over the years and stuff."

Unbeknown of what they will become, the Oilers defence tangent know they share a similar mould. 

"I think it shows that defence are usually a lot bigger," said Bouchard. 

"And I think it shows what the Edmonton Oilers want."

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BLOG: Brodziak, Rieder and Gravel get their numbers

Brodziak to don No. 28, Rieder to go with No. 22 and Gravel will wear No. 5 next season

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers free agent signees Kyle Brodziak, Tobias Rieder and Kevin Gravel have chosen what numbers they will sport in Oilers threads when the 2018-19 season begins.

Brodziak, the former Oiler who wore three different jersey numbers (No. 15, No. 23 and No. 51) during his previous tenure with the club, has decided to stick with the same number he wore in St. Louis as No. 28.

Rieder, who wore No. 8 in Arizona and No. 10 with the Los Angeles Kings, will go with No. 22 as an Oiler.

Gravel donned No. 53 with the Kings and has chosen No. 5 in Oilers silks.

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BLOG: McDavid inspires new skating mechanics in NHL 19

EA Sports NHL 19 to feature more realistic skating technology inspired by Oilers Captain Connor McDavid

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - The only way to skate like Connor McDavid is in the virtual world.

Hockey fans and gamers alike will be able to do just that in EA Sports NHL 19, which includes updated skating mechanics - tabbed Real Player Motion technology - inspired by the Oilers captain.

"RPM tech opens up a ton of doors for us when it comes to new skating in our game," said EA Sports Gameplay Producer Ben Ross. "We didn't have to look any further than McDavid when it comes to real-world NHL players that can inspire us."

The new technology incorporates realistic skating aspects, including crossovers and redefined edge work to allow for more control, creativity and acceleration in the gameplay.

Tweet from @EASPORTSNHL: Experience explosive-edge skating as RPM Tech comes to #NHL19 Pre-order today 👉

"To have some sort of impact on the way the game plays and the skating is pretty special," said McDavid. "When you get a couple crossovers going, that's when I feel like I'm really, really moving."

The RPM technology takes into account player size and their attribute levels. As a result, different players have different skating styles. Smaller skaters can have the ability to possess more speed while bigger players can find more power down low by turning powerfully against the opposition.

"When our players were asking for something as big as the skating system to be overhauled and to have something new, really quick, blends matching exactly what the player is asking for from the input," said Ross. 

"Really, that's how McDavid skates in real life. It feels like a video game."

McDavid was featured on the cover of NHL 18. NHL 19 will see Nashville Predators defender P.K. Subban own the cover spot.

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FUTURE WATCH: Larkin describes Oilers recruitment process

"Honestly, I felt like I was selling myself to the Oilers more than anything," Oilers forward prospect Colin Larkin said

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Forward prospect Colin Larkin signed with the Oilers on March 5, 2018, as a college free agent after four seasons at Umass-Boston.

The 24-year-old, whose brother is none other than Detroit Red Wings speedster Dylan Larkin, described the Oilers pitch while he was at Development Camp a few weeks ago. 

The 6-foot-3, 192-pound forward admitted there wasn't much the Oilers brass needed to say to convince him to sign with the organization.

Rather, it was the other way around.

"Honestly, I felt like I was selling myself to the Oilers more than anything," Larkin said. 

"It was at the end of my college season at UMass-Boston. I had a couple meetings with the Oilers towards the end of my season."

Larkin described some selling points the Oilers organization used to entice the free agent.

"They don't need to say much," he added. "There's a lot of prestige in this organization. There's a chance to play with young players, there's a lot of high draft picks and a lot of elite talent in this organization. 

"I think the arena and facilities are state of the art. That's part of their pitch. Just to get an opportunity to sign with the Oilers was a dream come true."

Larkin concluded his best collegiate campaign in his senior year in 2017-18, recording 24 goals and 46 points in 27 outings, ending his Div. III career with 148 points in 111 games. The opportunity the Oilers presented was too hard to pass up for the eldest Larkin.

"I had a lot of success at the college level in Div. III," Larkin said. "The opportunity to join the young talent here and get a chance with the Oilers was a no-brainer for me. I was extremely excited to sign with Edmonton. That was a really proud moment."

Larkin, who resembles his brother physically but also plays a similar style of game, understood he was coming from a Div. III program but believed it was the best for his development. The former Umass-Boston Beacon joined the club as a freshman in 2014-15, scoring 10 goals and 27 points in 27 matches. By the time Larkin became a senior in '17-18, the prospect was heralded as team captain.

"Being able to go in as a freshman, be a top power play guy, a penalty kill guy, a top-six forward right away and then develop into a top player in the league and country at that level was huge for me," Larkin said. "It kept my development going instead of not playing or trying to get in and out of the lineup and changing my role. 

"My development was perfect there at the Div. III level and I wouldn't have had the opportunity if I hadn't gone to UMass-Boston."

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BLOG: Strome receiving vision training during off-season

Oilers centre Ryan Strome said part of his off-season training includes working with a vision specialist

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Ryan Strome is making efforts to improve his on-ice vision this off-season.

"I've actually started doing a little bit of vision training," Strome, who signed a two-year contract with the Oilers last week, said on 630 CHED's Oilers Now Monday. "I've always kind of had an eye that doesn't see as well as the other, so I've tried a different approach. 

"I'm seeing a specialist in Toronto to try and make my eyes work together."

Strome, 24, notched 13 goals and 34 points in 82 outings in the 2017-18 season. The pivot found his fit with the Oilers late in the campaign, cementing himself as the club's third-line centre while also becoming a tool on special teams.

"Theoretically the idea is to instead of kind of be guessing where the puck could be by your vision not being up to par," Strome said. 

"Hopefully it can make things a little bit easier and your instincts can take over and your brain knows what you're doing."

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FEATURE: Strome finds his fit

Oilers centre established his position on the ice and home off it after signing a two-year deal with the Oilers

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Ryan Strome marked his territory.

Both on the ice and in Alberta's capital after inking a two-year deal worth $6.2 million with the Oilers organization on Friday.

"For the first time in my career, I've found a little bit of a home," the 24-year-old said by phone from a friend's cottage in Prince Edward Island. "Towards the end of the season, I started to really feel comfortable. 

"I told my agent, 'I'm a big believer in what's going on in Edmonton.'"

Video: SJS@EDM: Strome nets 10,000th goal in Oilers history

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FUTURE WATCH: Bouchard, Rodrigue and McLeod invited to Summer Showcase

Oilers 2018 draft picks Evan Bouchard, Olivier Rodrigue and Ryan McLeod have been invited to Team Canada's World Jr. Summer Showcase roster

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers prospects Olivier Rodrigue, Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod have been invited to Team Canada's 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase roster.

The event will be held in Kamloops, BC, from July 28 to Aug. 4. The eight-day tournament will pit four countries (Canada, United States, Finland and Sweden) against one another as an evaluation process for the 2019 Wolrd Junior Championship to be hosted by Vancouver and Victoria beginning Dec. 26.

Tweet from @HC_WJC: 40 of Canadas top junior prospects invited to the @SportChek World Junior Showcase July 28 August 4 in Kamloops. #REPRESENT #WJCShowcaseROSTER:

"The Sport Chek World Junior Showcase gives us an excellent opportunity to begin the evaluation process and for the staff to familiarize themselves with the players before the new season kicks off," said Brad McEwen, head scout for Hockey Canada via press release.

"We also get to see the players in competition against the teams who will be returning to Vancouver and Victoria this December. It's a unique opportunity, and we're looking forward to making the most of it as we kick off our journey to the 2019 World Juniors later this month."

Canada will dress two squads for games against a split Team USA before combining again as Team Canada to play Finland on Aug. 2, and Sweden on Aug. 3. They will close the mini-tournament against the United States on Aug. 4.

American defence prospect Phil Kemp has been invited to Team USA's roster.

See Canada's full 40-man roster here.

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FEATURE: Brodziak back with Oilers

Alberta product and free agent signee Kyle Brodziak returns to the organization that he started his NHL career with

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Kyle Brodziak is coming back to Alberta as a member of the Oilers.

The former St. Louis Blues forward - who was drafted by Edmonton in the seventh round (214th-overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft - made the call to rejoin the Oilers organization on Sunday, the first day of NHL Free Agency. The centre divulged why he wanted to come back to Alberta, which begins with his family.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Free Agency Day

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TALKING POINTS: Chiarelli assesses Oilers free agency

Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli discussed the Oilers acquisitions on Sunday

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers added three players on Sunday, signing a pair of former Los Angeles Kings, Tobias Rieder and Kevin Gravel, to one-year contracts as well as inking former Oiler Kyle Brodziak to a two-year deal.

Below are quotes from Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli's Sunday media availability.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Free Agency Day

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FEATURE: Gravel eyes opportunity with Oilers in healthy state

Oilers free agent signee Kevin Gravel looks ahead to his opportunity with the organization, without his health holding him back

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - It was right around this time last year when defenceman Kevin Gravel was experiencing the symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as Crohn's disease - an inflammatory disease that causes fatigue, weight loss and pain.

"It hit me last summer," said Gravel by phone after inking a one-year deal with the Oilers Sunday. "Almost exactly a year ago today."

Video: OILERS TODAY | Free Agency Day

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