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DEV CAMP: Siikanen attending his first Oilers Development Camp

"I'm a big strong forward who likes to stay on the puck in the offensive zone and I like to score goals," Siikanen said.

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - There's typically a couple of fresh faces every Oilers Development Camp, and this year, Patrik Siikanen is one of them.

The Oilers 2018 seventh-round selection has been playing in Finland and paid a visit to Edmonton for this year's camp.

"I'm a big strong forward who likes to stay on the puck in the offensive zone and I like to score goals," Siikanen told

Siikanen was selected 195th-overall in 2018 but was unable to make it to Dev Camp. That's not the case this time around as the Finn is soaking it all up, meeting fellow Oilers prospects and developing under the guidance of the franchise.

"It's been great," said the 6-foot-0, 198-pounder. "When I got here I didn't know anybody. It's been nice to meet the other guys."

Suiting up for the Blues U20 of Jr. A SM-Liiga the past two seasons, Siikanen finished '18-19 third on his team in scoring with 17 goals, 22 assists and 39 points in 41 matches - playing 17 more games than the season previous and scoring 22 more points.

Video: DEV CAMP | Patrik Siikanen

The forward is expected to dress for JYP of Liiga next year and thinks he'll be ready by rounding out a few areas of his game. Mainly, skating and defence.

"Skating is my biggest weak point," Siikanen said. "I got to improve that a lot."

Oilers Skating Coach David Pelletier - an Olympic gold medalist as a pairs figure skater - is a good resource in that regard. He's been been putting Oilers prospects through some difficult drills and Siikanen is learning how "quick your feet need to be," in today's game.

"I'm impressed with how good of a skater he is," Siikanen added of Pelletier.

The 19-year-old has experience with the Finnish National U20 Team and commented on the state of Finnish hockey. Finland won the 2019 World Junior Championship then defeated Canada to earn gold at the 2019 World Championship.

"Finnish hockey is improving all the time," he said. "It comes from the hard work the coaches and staff do there. We got to improve all the time and they know that.

"They say, 'We play as a team, win as a team and lose as a team."

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DEV CAMP: Kesselring physically prepared for college hockey

"I think I grew another inch and a half or two and then I gained probably 15 pounds since last year... I think I'm ready to go for college," said defence prospect Michael Kesselring

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Beware. 

Scrumming Michael Kesselring could cause a sore neck.

The Oilers sixth-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft is listed as 6-foot-6 but with his skates on, hovers around the 6-foot-8 range. There's no question that the former USHL defender - who will join the Northeastern Huskies next season - has grown since his last go-around at Oilers Development Camp. 

The 203-pounder confirmed it on Tuesday after the Oilers defence prospects finished their on-ice session. The defenceman believes it will bode well for him when he transitions to the NCAA in 2019-20.

"I think I grew another inch and a half or two and then I gained probably 15 pounds since last year," said the Manchester, NH, product. "It was a big year for me development-wise and I think I'm ready to go for college."

The 164th-overall pick moves into summer school next Monday, so getting prepared physically for the upcoming campaign was a major goal. And much like his scale, Kesselring's offensive game has taken off. 

The 19-year-old finished '18-19 with nine goals and 25 assists split between the Des Moines Buccaneers and Fargo Force but saw his offensive output skyrocket with Fargo.

Video: DEV CAMP | Michael Kesselring

After posting just two goals and 12 points in 33 games with Des Moines, the tall rearguard compiled seven markers and 22 points after being traded.

"I think in Fargo they just let me play," Kesselring said. "I learned a lot on how to move the puck and join late because in prep school I could carry it around a little bit more. 

"I think I could carry that into Northeastern next year."

College hockey is a big step but given his body's maturation, Kesselring believes he's ready for it. What will also help with the transition is guidance from coaches Jim Madigan and Jerry Keefe, plus friendly advice from Northeastern alumnus and Oilers defender Matt Benning.

"Jerry Keefe and Jim Madigan are doing a very good job," Kesselring said. "Matt Benning's here, he played for them and I talked to him. He had nothing but good things to say. I know they're going to let me play. 

"There's a good opportunity for me next year."

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DEV CAMP: Mazura channelling his inner Hemsky with Oilers

"I mean, I've been following him, so I try to use my skill. His hands are pretty good so the bar is pretty high for that," Oilers sixth-round pick Tomas Mazura said of former Oiler Ales Hemsky

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - If you're wondering whether Czech Tomas Mazura had a picture of Ales Hemsky on his wall growing up, you may not be completely surprised by what you find out.

"Yeah, I did!" exclaimed the Oilers 2019 sixth-round selection Monday at Development Camp. 

Mazura, taken 162nd-overall this past weekend at the 2019 NHL Draft, became a member of the Oilers organization alongside his best friend and compatriot Matej Blumel (Round 4,100th-overall). And although he doesn't wear No. 83 on his jersey, he was a fan of Hemsky.

"I actually know him," the 6-foot-2 centre said. "My dad is good friends with him and we play tennis in the summer and stuff. We're not great friends but we know each other. I've been following him since when he played here."

Mazura hails from Pardubice, CZE, where Hemsky derives, so it shouldn't come as a shock that there's a connection. Hemsky suited up in 652 games with the Oilers, scoring 142 goals and 335 assists for 477 points.

Now, Mazura - who thinks he plays a similar style as 'Hemmer' - is trying to carve out a path with the Orange & Blue. 

Video: DEV CAMP | Tomas Mazura

"I mean, I've been following him, so I try to use my skill," Mazura, who had 14 goals and 40 assists with Kimball Union Academy last season, said. 

"His hands are pretty good so the bar is pretty high for that. But I go home, train, and then I skate with - because it's a small country so a lot of the guys, we know each other - a lot of NHL players and major junior players."

Mazura said he was overlooked frequently in Czech hockey programs while growing up due to his frame but the 181-pound pivot has since sprouted. The middleman wants to put on more weight and has been working out with the same trainer that developed Hemsky.

"I train with the same person that Hemsky trained with when he played," Mazura said. "I need to bulk up and put muscle on. That's my main priority. He does great workouts for me."

He'll get some assistance from the Oilers brass in the development department this week at Oilers Development Camp, and hopes all his hard work pays off in the form of acknowledgment from the Czech national hockey program.

"It's an honour to represent my country but at this point, I've worked hard for it and I think I deserve to be on it," Mazura said of potentially joining Czechs U20 squad.

"I've never been to one camp."

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DEV CAMP: Howson assesses Development Camp attendees

Oilers VP of Player Development Scott Howson provides an assessment of the state of the prospect pool

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers VP of Player Development Scott Howson kicked off this year's Development Camp by speaking to the media while the prospects underwent physical testing.

Howson shared his comments on the prospect pool, assessing the skaters that have been invited to Edmonton for the Oilers development event as well as others that couldn't make it.

See Howson's comments below.

Video: DEV CAMP | Scott Howson

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DRAFT: The value of Lavoie

"We had him higher, obviously. I'll say that," said Oilers Director of Player Personnel Bob Green

by Paul Gazzola /

VANCOUVER, BC - Bob Green had to stop and laugh before saying it.

Because it's cliché and repeated each year at the NHL Draft and Vancouver's 2019 edition was no different.

"Don't we always say we never expected to get...," joked the Oilers Director of Player Development, seated before the media after the Oilers 193rd selection, their final one. 

"We had him higher, obviously. I'll say that."

Video: OILERS TODAY | Draft Recap 06.22.19

'We' being Green, Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland, Oilers Assistant General Manager Keith Gretzky and the rest of the scouting staff, and 'him' being second-round selection Raphael Lavoie.

The 38th-overall pick and Halifax Mooseheads power forward came into the Draft with projections of going anywhere from the mid-first to second round due to his frame, strength, scoring and playmaking ability. 

Luckily for the Oilers, Lavoie - sitting in the bowl awaiting his name to be announced - remained available when they were on the clock.

"We saw he was glaring there for us this morning when we got up," Green said. "We talked a little bit last night about him after we got to the hotel but there were lots of guys there that we liked. But we were happy to get him."

Video: THE PANEL | Draft Wrap-Up

The Chambly, QC, product was a force in the Mooseheads' playoff run, scoring 20 goals in 23 games but losing in the President's Cup Final to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Lavoie's stock elevated by the round and the forward - who can play centre or wing but prefers the latter - gained more exposure at the 2019 Memorial Cup where Halifax served as hosts.

"He had a great playoff," said Green. "He had a good Memorial Cup. I saw him out there. During the course of the year, I liked his game. He's a big, strong kid that can score. He makes plays with the puck, he's strong down low and he complements good players."

More eyes saw Lavoie during his extended season and that was when his performance saw new heights. The 18-year-old praised Halifax Head Coach Eric Veilleux for optimizing his output.

Video: DRAFT | Raphael Lavoie

"My coach this year was probably the best coach I've ever had in my life," Lavoie, who had six more postseason goals than the player behind him, said. "He's been great to me and he's a big reason and part of why I'm here."

The 6-foot-4, 199-pounder blends a medley of size, strength and poise but pointed out that Veilleux's instructions pieced it together.

"Talking to me about details when I don't have the puck or how to play the game in general," Lavoie said of the wisdom Veilleux shared.

"Just being an impact every night."

Lavoie didn't project where he would be next season but regardless, given his potential, the Oilers are happy to get a great value on their second-round pick.

That, Green said so himself.

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DRAFT: Day 2 Live Blog

Follow along as Rounds 2 through 7 unfold at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver

by Paul Gazzola /

VANCOUVER, BC - Day 2 of the 2019 NHL Draft is over, with the Oilers selecting defender Philip Broberg, forwards Raphael Lavoie (38th), Matej Blumel (100th), Tomas Mazura (162nd), Maxim Denezhkin (193rd) and goaltender Ilya Konovalov (85th).

Get all news, videos and more from the Draft below.

Video: THE PANEL | Draft Wrap-Up


Video: OILERS TODAY | Draft Recap 06.22.19

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DRAFT: Holland building the back end with Broberg

"Those teams that go for long playoff runs have good defence, deep defence, big defence. We're going to build a good, big and deep defence," said Ken Holland

by Paul Gazzola /

VANCOUVER, BC - Brick by brick. 

Blueliner by blueliner.

Like Rome, National Hockey League defence cores cannot be built in one day and Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland knows it, selecting AIK (SWE-II) defenceman Philip Broberg eighth-overall at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.

Video: THE PANEL | Round 1 Recap

Holland affirmed his decision to choose the smooth-skating puck-mover born in Orebro, SWE, later adding his reason for adding a piece to a pipeline that's still under some construction.

"I think if you're going to have a good team in the National Hockey League, you have to have a good defence," Holland said following Round 1 of the Draft. 

"Those teams that go for long playoff runs have good defence, deep defence, big defence. We're going to build a good, big and deep defence."

The former Red Wings General Manager pointed out past defence groups that patrolled the ice in Detroit, which featured stalwarts like Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski.

"I think back to our team in '08 when we won the Cup," he said. "We had Lidstrom, Rafalski. We had Kronwall. We had Brad Stuart. We had a really top-notch top four.

"Certainly, the other three guys were all mobile. They could skate, they could handle the puck, they could get back and pivot, turn the net then get the puck snapped up to our forwards' hands. 

"That's part of the thinking in this selection."

Video: DRAFT | Ken Holland Round 1 Recap

After disclosing why he's trying to build the back end, Holland built up Broberg. The Swede skated against men in Allsvenskan and will turn 18 on June 25. 

"I'm certainly aware that we need forwards but I also know that you got to have a good defence. It's got to be talented and I think that's really important in the League today. 

"Broberg can skate, transport, pass the puck, get back, move the puck."

Broberg, who shook Wayne Gretzky's hand and was ecstatic when he received a text from Oilers Captain Connor McDavid, will add to a structure that includes compatriots Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson.

"We have good defencemen in the National Hockey League," Broberg said of Swedish defenders. 

"You look up to them and try to be like them. I think that's the biggest reason why Sweden has developed so many defecemen throughout the years."

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DRAFT: Holland covets Broberg's talent, size and speed

"I like that he's talented. I like that he's 6-foot-3. I like that he can skate… We're excited to get a 6-foot-3, puck-moving, puck-transporting defenceman," said Oilers GM Ken Holland

by Paul Gazzola /

VANCOUVER, BC - Talent. Size. Speed.

Those are the qualities Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland believes Philip Broberg possesses, and are the three reasons why the Swedish blueliner became a member of the Oilers organization at the eighth spot of the 2019 NHL Draft.

Video: DRAFT | Ken Holland Round 1 Recap

Holland was on hand after Round 1 of the Draft concluded and said so himself.

"I like that he's talented," Holland said. "I like that he's 6-foot-3. I like that he can skate… We're excited to get a 6-foot-3, puck-moving, puck-transporting defenceman"

The NHL Draft is, of course, fraught with mystery as to who will be chosen when NHL management teams step up to the podium and this year's edition of the event was no different. Holland alluded to the seven clubs that chose ahead of the Oilers but maintained his desire to covet a future top-four hopeful.

"The seven teams ahead of you make your decisions and certainly, we had our lists," Holland said. "I thought that there was a lot of good players at the top part of the draft. We knew we were going to get a good player. 

"We're excited to get Philip."

Video: DRAFT | 1-on-1 with Philip Broberg

Broberg characterized his game after getting into his new Oilers threads, also articulating what areas he wants to improve.

"I'm a two-way defender with good skating ability who likes to move the puck and skate it out as well," Broberg, who compiled two goals and nine points in 41 games with AIK of Allsvenskan. 

"I'm a big sized defenceman as well but I still want to improve my first pass and be stronger in the corners and in front of the net."

But for now, the newest piece of the Oilers prospect pipeline is looking forward to enjoying the moment.

"I'm just going to take it all in and I'm just so happy to be an Oiler right now."

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DRAFT: Prospects prepare for what could be an unpredictable first round

"From three to 10, there's a variety of guys that can go anywhere… It will be an interesting night," said centre Kirby Dach

by Paul Gazzola /

VANCOUVER, BC - You don't know until you know.

You know?

Despite the abundance of mocks, prospect rankings and scenarios mapped out in the weeks leading up to Friday's Round 1 of the 2019 NHL Draft, the players expected to be selected are fully aware of how unpredictable the Draft can, realistically, play out.

Video: DRAFT | Kirby Dach 06.20.19

The element of the unknown can either cause nerves or not, and the prospects are simply trying to stay level-headed before hearing their name called Friday at Rogers Arena - whenever that may be.

"Other than Jack (Hughes) and Kaapo Kakko, from three to 10, there's a variety of guys that can go anywhere," said Saskatoon Blades centre Kirby Dach from the top deck of a yacht at Pacific Yacht Charters Thursday. 

But what the players do know is what's up for grabs to teams - offensive defenders, skilled wingers, big centres and much, much more - so much so that given the media carousel they've been on for the last month and a half, they are able to provide scouting reports of their own.

"If you need a Dman, you're probably looking at taking Bowen Byram," Dach continued. "If you need a smaller forward then you probably are looking for Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras or a guy who can make plays in tight, or a bigger centreman with me, Dylan (Cozens) and (Alex) Turcotte.

Video: DRAFT | Cole Caufield 06.20.19

"It's kind of up in the air and that's the nerve-racking part of it. You don't quite know what's going to happen but it's also exciting that way because it will be an interesting night. That's for sure."

The aforementioned Caufield - sharing the experience alongside a number of his teammates from the United States National Team - isn't concerned with the mystery that looms. Rather, emotions like happiness and excitement are taking over.

"Having those guys and being excited for them, too, kind of eases the nerves," Caufield said. "It's a lot to take in. I mean, we're only 18 years old. We're just kids. It's a really special feeling to have these people talking to you but I'm just trying to enjoy the moment."

The prospective NHLers have run the gamut ahead of Friday's Draft. They've played out a long hockey season, completed physical tasks at the NHL Scouting Combine, then stared at bright lights and lenses at all the media events that followed.

Video: DRAFT | Bowen Byram 06.20.19

All that's left, now, is to hit the podium.

"I'm trying not to worry about things," said Vancouver Giants defender Bowen Byram. "I did what I could do. I played all year, did the Combine and what not. 

"Now I kind of just get to sit back and relax and whatever happens will happen."

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DRAFT: Top prospects explore the possibility of coming to Oilers

Alex Turcotte, Dylan Cozens, Cole Caufield and other top 2019 NHL Draft prospects reveal what they think would be the most exciting part of playing for the Oilers

by Paul Gazzola /

VANCOUVER, BC - The top 2019 NHL Draft prospects are getting close to the light at the end of the tunnel.

That source of light may have been the sun shining down on them from the top deck of a yacht docked at Pacific Yacht Charters, where prospective NHL hopefuls such as Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Bowen Byram, Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras, Dylan Cozens and Co., fielded crowds of reporters ahead of one of the biggest days of their lives.

The NHL Draft is an unpredictable event and although analysts and prognosticators perennially predict how the picks will unfold, nothing is certain until a name is called.

With the Oilers choosing eighth-overall in Friday's Round 1, a few of the top prospects commented on what would be the most exciting part about joining the Oilers organization.

United States National Team centre Alex Turcotte:

"Obviously they got some great players in (Connor) McDavid, (Leon) Draisaitl and (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins. They're elite players and to be around those guys and to learn from them would be pretty special and obviously really beneficial. I know McDavid is the best player in the world. Any time you could play with a guy of that calibre, you can only get better. It would be a blast and really cool."

Video: DRAFT | Alex Turcotte 06.20.19

USNT right winger Cole Caufield:

"I think everyone does (think about playing on McDavid's wing). I think that would be pretty special. He's obviously such a great player and makes anyone he plays with look better. If I would be lucky enough to play with him, that would be pretty special."

Video: DRAFT | Cole Caufield 06.20.19

Lethbridge Hurricanes centre Dylan Cozens:

"I think Lethbridge has prepared me for wherever I end up. They've been so good to me there and given me every opportunity to succeed. If I do end up in Edmonton, I'll be happy. It's close to Lethbridge where I played, so it would be awesome."

Video: DRAFT | Dylan Cozens 06.20.19

USNT centre Trevor Zegras:

"First and foremost, I think Connor McDavid is a pretty exciting hockey player to watch. I think playing with him would be pretty cool. I know (Leon) Draisaitl had 50 goals this year which is unbelievable. But I think they got a lot of really good hockey players so that would be awesome.

"There really is no way of knowing (of the type of fit with the Oilers). Playing with Jack (Hughes) is probably the closest gauge, I guess, you can get to playing with somebody like Connor McDavid. Me and him gelled really well, so I think I would figure it out pretty quickly."

Video: DRAFT | Trevor Zegras 06.20.19

SKA St. Petersburg right winger Vasili Podkolzin (with help from a translator):

"He obviously thought about every (team) kind of thing. He isn't aiming for one particular team. The conversation he had with teams, he liked everyone and everyone liked him. He's not really worried about that too much. Any team that will pick him, he would love to be part of that team."

Video: DRAFT | Vasili Podkolzin 06.20.19

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