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DRAFT: Broberg welcomed by McDavid

Moments after being selected eighth overall, Philip Broberg was welcomed to the Edmonton Oilers by Captain Connor McDavid

by Tony Brar /

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

The newest member of the Edmonton Oilers couldn't hold back his excitement after being drafted eighth overall at the 2019 NHL Draft.

For Philip Broberg, wearing the orange and blue will kickstart a string of new things to come in his near future.

A new home. A new team. And eventually new teammates, including Connor McDavid, who is the only player in the National Hockey League to record 100 or more points in each of his last three seasons.

"Right now, he's the best player in the world," said Broberg of McDavid. "Obviously, his speed is a great aspect of his game.

"One day, I hope I will play with him."

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: Captain Connor welcomes Philip to the #Oilers organization!

In a showcase of his leadership, the Oilers Captain texted the Swedish defenceman on Draft day, congratulating him and welcoming him to the Oilers family.

"It's from McDavid," said a smiling Broberg when looking at his messages shortly after being drafted. "He said, 'Hey bud, it's Connor McDavid. I tried to call you a couple of times but it won't go through. Congrats man, I'm looking forward to getting to know you. Have fun tonight and see you soon.'"

Along with the message from McDavid, the Swedish rearguard also highlighted a special moment on the stage that he soon won't forget: shaking Wayne Gretzky's hand while donning the Oilers jersey for the first time.

"It was awesome. He's the GOAT," laughed Broberg. "That was obviously an experience."

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BLOG: Nicholson's global vision

"We're certainly going to look at different hockey opportunities globally. We're also going to look at other sports. None of it is in stone yet but we're going to work on it," said Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club Bob Nicholson

by Tony Brar /

EDMONTON, AB - Just seconds into a press conference on Monday morning, Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club Bob Nicholson made it clear: "change is certainly here."

Moving into a new role with the Oilers Entertainment Group, Nicholson introduced Tom Anselmi as the President of Business Operations and Chief Operating Officer of the Edmonton Oilers and ICE District on Monday.

Nicholson, who has been with the organization for five years, feels the hiring of Anselmi, "really gives us more strength and power going forward." The addition will also present opportunities to grow the Oilers Entertainment Group brand globally in the coming years - a vision held by Owner Daryl Katz.

Video: 1-ON-1 | Bob Nicholson Exclusive

"We're going to look at other sports, not only in North America but globally over the next little while," said Nicholson on Monday. "A lot of it is just in the works. We're certainly going to look at different hockey opportunities globally. Expanding what we can do in hockey with various leagues and other areas we can work on - we brought in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, we brought the World Junior Hockey Championships in.

"We're also going to look at other sports. With Daryl, we've talked about a lot of different options. We're looking at what we can do in Edmonton and also what we can do globally. None of it is in stone yet but we're going to work on it. This (hiring of Anselmi) is going to give us more horsepower to do that in the future. We're now going to expand that search."

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BLOG: Starrett makes most of his 'one opportunity'

"I had one shot, played well and that led to more opportunities to play and the season I had," Starrett told Bob Stauffer and 630 CHED's Oilers Now on Wednesday afternoon

by Tony Brar /

In his first full American Hockey League season, goaltender Shane Starrett made significant strides in his personal development while providing an instant impact for his club.

Enough to earn a one-year, two-way contract as the Bellingham, MA, native re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

Starrett was considered a critical piece of the Bakersfield Condors success this season, helping the franchise earn its first AHL playoff berth and the best record in the league's Western Conference.

Video: CONDORS | Shane Starrett 05.15.19

With a 27-7-5 record, a .918 save percentage and 2.33 goals against average, Starrett cemented himself as the team's starting netminder midway through the campaign by "earning his way there," as put by Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft.

"I knew I was going to get my one opportunity eventually," Starrett told Bob Stauffer and 630 CHED's Oilers Now on Wednesday. "When I wasn't playing as much, I was working with Sly (Condors Goaltending Coach Sylvain Rodrigue).

"He said, 'We're preparing for you to get your chance. You're going to get a game here, you're going to get a chance to show what you have. We want you to be ready for that chance because that opportunity will lead to more.'

"That's what kind of happened - I had one shot, played well and that led to more opportunities to play and the season I had."

The goaltender was one of two Condors named to the AHL's All-Rookie Team during the 2018-19 campaign - a season which also saw Starrett play in eight playoff games (3-3-0, 2.89 GAA & .889 SV%).

Video: CONDORS | All-Rookie Roomies 05.01.19

Just two seasons removed from playing at the Air Force Academy in college, Starrett says continuous improvement in "the different reads between the pro and college level," and "tightening up the technical side of goaltending" will be necessary heading into the 19-20 season.

"I'm just looking to go to training camp and be the best I can be and be ready for the opportunity," said Starrett. "I don't know what's going to happen over the course of the summer (in regards to the Oilers back-up plans), but I'll be preparing for training camp.

"I'm going to give the best effort that I can."

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COMBINE: Yukon's Cozens in uncharted territory

"I love to share my story. I'm so proud to be from there and so proud to represent it," said Whitehorse, YT native and projected top-10 pick Dylan Cozens.

by Tony Brar /

BUFFALO, NY - It's not often you hear about an NHL hockey player from Yukon Territory.

In fact, it's been nearly 40 years since Peter Sturgeon (six games with the Colorado Rockies) and former Edmonton Oilers defenceman Bryon Baltimore (two games) last laced up their skates at the NHL level.

Much like Sturgeon - a 1974 second-round pick of the Boston Bruins - Whitehorse, YT native Dylan Cozens will have the opportunity to have his named called at this year's NHL Draft in Vancouver.

NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked North American skater brings quick feet, an effective two-way game and a 6-foot-3, 181-pound frame to the table - all points of emphasis for NHL teams speaking to him this weekend. However, according to the young centre, a main talking point during the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine has also been the uniqueness of his birthplace.

Video: COMBINE | Dylan Cozens

"It gets brought up a lot but it's my story," said Cozens during Friday's media availability. "I love to share my story. I'm so proud to be from there and so proud to represent it.

"Growing up there, it always seemed like it was a farfetched dream (to play in the NHL). Now that the Draft is coming up and I'm here at the Combine, it's a little surreal. It's definitely pretty crazy."

With longer winters out in Whitehorse, Cozens took advantage of the elements growing up. Every year, his parents would build a backyard rink for the young centre, maximizing his opportunity to hone his skills and ultimately have the confidence to soon play at the game's highest level.

"I believe I was given a lot of natural talent and then just from my backyard rink, I believed I had what it took to get to the next level," said Cozens. "I gave it my all and always worked as hard as I could. This is always been my dream - to be in the NHL. I've chased it and I've worked as hard as I could to get there."

As Cozens continued to make his way through the ranks, he was eventually selected with the 19th-overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Fast forward three years and the centreman is coming off an 84-point season (34G, 50A).

Video: COMBINE | Bob Green on the Combine

According to NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, Cozens' game is well-rounded and offers a unique set of skills for a player of his size - almost as unique as where he's from.

"He's a young man who's still growing into his frame and he brings a lot to the table when it comes to speed because speed can help dictate what you do on the ice. He's shown that he's got the hockey sense and the scoring ability. One of the things that we liked, every game that we were at, when he's on the ice, he finds a way to generate a scoring chance.

"The fact that he's from the Yukon, he's an interesting story and it's an interesting byline."

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BLOG: Tippett discusses coaching style, philosophy

"I don't look at myself as a defensive coach or an offensive coach. I look at myself as a coach that tries to find a way to win with the people that I have," Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said

by Tony Brar /

EDMONTON, AB - During his eight-year tenure with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, newly appointed Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett gained a reputation of being a defensively-conscious bench boss to help his team win hockey games.

It turns out, the 16th head coach in franchise history isn't ready to categorize himself as one.

Tippett - who has 553 wins as an NHL Head Coach and a Jack Adams Award to his name - instead looks at the make-up of his lineup and moulds the team accordingly.

Video: 1-ON-1 | Dave Tippett

"As far as being a defensive coach, I laugh at that all the time because my first job in the NHL, I actually got it because I was an offensive coach," Tippett laughed. "I was an assistant coach in Los Angeles and I ran the power play and we had a real good power play. (Former Dallas Stars General Manager) Doug Armstrong hired me because he thought I could work more creativity and more offence. In Dallas, we had some good offensive teams.

"In Arizona, we had to figure out how to win without those high-end scorers. We figured out how to win in Arizona with character, grit, good defence and good goaltending. I don't look at myself as a defensive coach or an offensive coach. I look at myself as a coach that tries to find a way to win with the people that I have."

Oilers General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland says he looks forward to the "structure" and "stability" the Moosomin, Saskatchewan native will bring to the hockey club.

With 14 seasons manning an NHL bench and two trips to the Western Conference Finals so far in his coaching career, Tippett's pedigree made him the leading candidate for Holland. Three weeks into his new role, Holland's first major move with the Oilers involved someone who shared his philosophy of winning in today's NHL.

Video: EXCLUSIVE | Ken Holland Interview

"We both would like the team to play fast," said Holland. "In the game today, you've got to play with speed and you've got to compete. You've got to compete when you've got the puck, you have to be heavy on the puck down low and when you don't have the puck, you've got to compete hard. I think about the Detroit Red Wings teams that won the Cup in '97 and '98 - people think about offence - but at the end of the day, you have to win some games 2-1 and 1-0. Some nights you have to win 5-4 so you have to be able to check."

"In talking with Dave, we believe in the same things of building a hockey team. We've got to have some pace, we've got to compete, we need some depth scoring, the defence has to join the rush but you can't take chances when you step up in the offensive zone which will lead to odd-man rushes. We believe in the same things and that's why we're here today and I hired him as the head coach."

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CONDORS: Yamamoto looks to 'play with more confidence'

"It gets a little shaken up going up and down [between Edmonton and Bakersfield]. If I can keep that confidence throughout the whole year, that will be huge for me," said Yamamoto

by Tony Brar /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - "Make the team and stay with them."

That was Kailer Yamamoto's response when asked about his goal come Oilers Main Camp in September.

Short. Sweet. To the point.

During the Bakersfield Condors Exit Interviews on Wednesday, the 2017 first-round pick was just six days removed from undergoing successful wrist surgery. While Yamamoto will use most of the summer to recover and rehab, the 5-foot-8 forward will look to continue "playing aggressive and getting into the dirty areas" come next season.

"Obviously, it was unfortunate to get injured but I'm just trying to get healthy again and get back to 100 percent," Yamamoto said. "I think we're looking at a little ways out before I can start rehab. I'm trying to get to rehab as quick as possible.

"Hopefully by August, I'll be 100 percent and get it going."

Video: CONDORS | Kailer Yamamoto 05.15.19

Along with regaining physical form, Yamamoto identified a mental aspect of the game where he hopes to see improvement and gave an honest assessment of his first full year as a pro.

"I just have to play with more confidence next year," said Yamamoto after scoring 18 points (10G, 8A) in 28 games with the Condors. "It gets a little shaken up going up and down [between Edmonton and Bakersfield]. If I can keep that confidence throughout the whole year, that will be huge for me.

"It was still a really fun year. I got called up a couple of times in Edmonton, got called back down and spent a majority of my time down here [in Bakersfield] and it's been a lot of fun. The guys have been unbelievable. You can see it in that locker room with how well we did this year."

Video: CONDORS | Exit Interviews 05.15.19

Bakersfield finished the season with a 42-21-3-2 record this season, capturing the Western Conference crown in the regular season. The Condors were eliminated from the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs on Monday in Game 6 of the Pacific Division Finals against the San Diego Gulls.

Yamamoto appeared in 17 games for the Oilers this season, scoring his first NHL goal on Oct 18 against the Boston Bruins. The Spokane, WA native also added an assist and 13 shots while averaging 13:04 TOI with Edmonton.

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CONDORS: Defence adopting 'next man up' mentality

"All year, we've been having that 'next man up' mentality. In any situation, we believe any of us can go on the ice and have success," said defenceman Caleb Jones.

by Tony Brar /

SAN DIEGO, CA - According to Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft, each of his defencemen bring "different ingredients" to the table. The seven defenders used in the playoffs have combined for 23 points in seven games so far, illustrating the consistency of their efforts on a nightly basis.

From Logan Day's deciding goal in Game 1 of the opening round to Evan Bouchard's three-point performance in his first career American Hockey League game and now, William Lagesson capping off a thrilling come-from-behind victory on Wednesday night with his second goal of the postseason, the blueliners make up much of the blueprint of the Condors success.

Video: RAW | Jay Woodcroft 05.09.19

"Our d-core has been the backbone of our group this entire season," said Woodcroft following Thursday's team meeting. "There are tremendous storylines going on down here in Bakersfield. People recognize the opportunity and are seizing their chance to make an impression. There's a reason this team in Bakersfield finished first in the West. There's a reason this team in Bakersfield finished with the lowest total in goals against in the American Hockey League. There's a reason this team in Bakersfield had the highest goals for per game.

"A big part of that reason is those six guys that we ice on a nightly basis."

Both Evan Bouchard (2G, 3A) and Keegan Lowe (5A) lead this group with five points each. Ethan Bear and William Lagesson join Bouchard as defencemen with multiple goals while Caleb Jones leads the defence core with 17 shots. Ryan Stanton has a power-play goal while five of seven blueliners have a plus-minus rating of even or better.

Significant contributions, to say the least, but before it all unfolds on the ice, it all begins with having the right mindset as a collective.

Video: RAW | Caleb Jones 05.09.19

"As a group of six, all year, we've been having that 'next man up' mentality," Jones said. "It's been working all year and we're just going to keep doing that. We think that anyone who comes in can contribute. We feel like we all can bring something different to the team. We can all try to bring it up the ice and create offence.

"In any situation, we believe any of us can go on the ice and have success. Whether it's the end of the game, down a goal, up a goal, penalty kill or power play, we think we have a multitude of guys [who can step in]. Adding Bouchard and his offence has definitely helped on the power play but even there, we feel like we have three or four others that can help on the power play and kill penalties."

The aforementioned Bouchard joined an already effective group of young defenders that have made a home in Bakersfield. Bouchard (19), Jones (22), Lagesson (23) and Ethan Bear (21) all fall in the 23-or-under club while being under contract with the big club. Woodcroft believes and understands the importance of these Calder Cup Playoffs and how it will serve as a catalyst in their development moving forward.

"We want to prepare our players in this organization to play meaningful hockey in the month of May and eventually in the month of June," said Woodcroft. "The experience that our younger players are getting right now under intense circumstances, to be able to learn what it takes to not just tread water but to contribute and have an impact and help a team win, sets our young players and our organization up for success going forward. [The defence core is] cognizant of what's going on up top.

"They're cognizant of the opportunities in front of them. But what I also like about them is their focus and concentration of the task at hand."

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CONDORS: Jones striving to become a 'big-time player'

"This is the time of the year when big-time players try to step up," said Condors defenceman Caleb Jones as he gears up for the Pacific Division Finals.

by Tony Brar /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Caleb Jones continues to revolutionize his game.

Coming off what the defenceman called a "tougher year" as a rookie pro in 2017-18, Jones has worked closely with the Bakersfield Condors coaching staff to develop his all-around skill set, yearning to make an impact on both sides of the puck.

"The offensive side of his game - him transporting the puck up the ice or supporting the rush - comes natural," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft. "It's instinctual to him, it's what stands out when you watch a game. His attention to the defensive side of the puck has improved greatly, which has led to increased minutes and responsibility.

"I'm really impressed with how hard he plays; how heavy he plays around our net. He's put a lot of time and effort in being a full 200-foot player and it's a real positive with him on the year as a whole. Caleb's year is a huge positive storyline for the organization."

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CONDORS: McLeod arrives in Bakersfield

"He's got a lively personality and he's excited to be here. He's serious about being the best that he can be," said Head Coach Jay Woodcroft.

by Tony Brar /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Fresh off signing a three-year entry-level contract and agreeing to an AHL Amateur Tryout Contract to join the Condors, Ryan McLeod's speed and skill was front and centre on Thursday morning.

"What stands out is that he's a big body that can skate," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft following Thursday's practice. "He's a centre iceman that provides a little depth for us at that position.

"He's got a lively personality and he's excited to be here. He's passionate about the game and he's serious about being the best that he can be. We're excited to have him join our group."

The 6-foot-2, 207-pound centre led the OHL's Saginaw Spirit to Game 7 of the Western Conference Championship, as the team was eventually ousted by fellow Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov and the Guelph Storm.

McLeod was traded to the Spirit midseason after 32 games with the Mississauga Steelheads. The Oilers 2018 second round pick (40th overall) registered 19 goals and 43 assists in the regular season before posting 12 points (5G, 7A) in 17 games during the playoffs.

"We've been in good contact with some of our area scouts and development people that give me an update of where he's at in his personal game and how he affected that Saginaw team and their playoffs," said Woodcroft.

"He is a young man that can skate and has size through the middle. He has a defensive conscious about him and he'll add to our group for sure."

Video: RAW | Jay Woodcroft 05.02.19 

Following his first summer as an NHL draft pick, McLeod's combination of speed and size warranted an extended look at Oilers Main Camp back in September and October, providing an invaluable experience for the Mississauga native.

"He was one of the storylines of main camp," said Woodcroft. "It was just his pace and ability to get in on forechecks and look at home with NHL hockey players. He went right to the very end of main camp there.

"He left a great impression. It set him up for a good season in the Ontario Hockey League. He had a good effect on two different franchises there and today he showed exactly what he is."

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CONDORS: Team's 'source of strength' comes from depth, versatility

"We have people that represent different ingredients. I believe that our depth has been a real source of strength," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft.

by Tony Brar /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft has plenty of options.

Fifteen healthy forwards, nine defenceman and three goaltenders to be exact.

The team's depth and versatility allow the bench boss to make changes when necessary and still field one of the American Hockey League's best rosters. In Games 1 and 2 of the Condors' opening-round series, Woodcroft deployed a conventional 12 forward, six defencemen makeup.  

However, heading into Game 3, he was forced to adapt. Players were "banged up" as the first-year coach was required to move pieces around. With an itching Evan Bouchard waiting to draw into the lineup, Woodcroft exercised a different look: 11 forwards and seven defencemen.

It resulted in the first ever AHL home playoff victory for the franchise.

 "What I liked about our mix of players is that we have people that represent different ingredients," said Woodcroft following Tuesday's practice. "So it's not just a cookie cutter jersey that's going into the lineup. We have players that excel on the power play and excel on the penalty kill. We have toughness, we have size, we have speed. I believe that our depth has been a real source of strength.

"For me and the coaching staff, we have a comfort level with every single player that we have on the roster. Every single one of those players is important to us. They're important to what we got going on and we're a stronger team because they're here. We feel quite comfortable with whoever we ice in our lineup."

 Video: CONDORS | Round 2 Preview

A player that has been a staple in all but one of Bakersfield's games this season is captain Keegan Lowe. The dependable, stay-at-home rearguard has seen the usual turnover that an AHL team experiences first-hand for six seasons now.

But for Lowe, there's a reason he experienced his first AHL playoff series victory this past weekend.

"The reason we have been so successful all year is our depth from top to bottom," said the defenseman. "We have forwards and a couple of guys in the lineup that could easily be in the lineup and be successful as well. We have an unbelievable group of guys and team. We've dealt with different scenarios this year, whether it be injuries or just a lot of bodies on the backend. It just says a lot about our group.

"We stick together, we're ready to roll with the punches and play with whoever we're thrown out with at that point in time."

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