Gostisbehere, McDavid, Panarin named Calder Trophy finalists. Who should win?

Connor McDavid (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015-16 season yielded an outstanding and deep rookie class, one of the best in recent memory. Obvious can’t-miss stars like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the top two picks of the 2015 draft, delivered, but they weren’t alone by any means. We saw an intriguing blend of stars in the making doing what they were supposed to do; late bloomers bursting onto the scene; and a wild-card rookie flourishing after arriving from the KHL.

The rookie crop included a 30-goal scorer, five 20-goal scorers and 12 players with at least 15 goals. Eight rookies topped 40 points. Two played in the All-Star Game. Eight started at least 20 games in net, and three had multiple shutouts.

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Sorry, but the Oilers might win the draft lottery. What happens if they do?

Matt Larkin
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome, everyone. Thanks for coming. Just walking through the door is a courageous first step. There’s coffee and donuts on the table in the corner. When you’re ready, sit with me in the circle.

Everyone join hands. It’s time to discuss the real possibility the Edmonton Oilers win the draft lottery this Saturday and pick first overall for the fifth time in seven years.

Their chances: 13.5 percent. It doesn’t make the Copper and Blue the favorite – that would be the Toronto Maple Leafs at 20 percent – but Edmonton has the second-best odds. The Oil sat third-best a year ago at 11.5 percent and still managed to win the Connor McDavid Ping-Pong Sweepstakes, so we know they have a chance, technically a better one this time around.

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Prospect Need to Know: Quebec’s future finest is Maxime Comtois

Maxime Comtois  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Finland is golden again thanks to the under-18s in North Dakota and all the international usual suspects came through at the tourney. Jesse Puljujarvi was huge, Clayton Keller took home MVP honors and Tyson Jost led the tourney in scoring. European scouts are basically done watching games now and the CHL playoffs are getting to the big stages, so you can feel the draft combine coming on the horizon. With the AHL starting Calder Cup proceedings, there is still a lot of good hockey left, though. So let’s take a trip around the prospect world again, shall we?

 

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Rumor Roundup: In search for defense, Oilers should target Dennis Wideman

Lyle Richardson
Dennis Wideman (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is expected to acquire some much-needed depth for his D-corps this summer. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests Chiarelli should cast his eye south toward his club’s rival in Calgary.

Appearing on Sportsnet 960 last Friday, Friedman wonders if the Flames and blueliner Dennis Wideman might be ready to part ways. He feels Wideman could get an opportunity for a fresh start with the Oilers.

Friedman points out Chiarelli acquired and later traded Wideman during his tenure as Boston Bruins GM. While the two clubs rarely make deals, he points out the Flames acquired Ladislav Smid from the Oilers a couple of years ago.

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McDavid has shown he’s captain material, and it’s clear Oilers feel the same way

Jared Clinton
Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ahead of the season, the Edmonton Oilers stripped defenseman Andrew Ference of the captaincy in favor of naming four alternates. But following a season in which Ference, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle all shared duty as the leaders of the Oilers, it appears the team is ready to name a captain, and don’t be surprised if that captain is Connor McDavid.

When asked Sunday if the Oilers would have a captain — a definite, ‘C’-wearing leader — next season, GM Peter Chiarelli said he believed that would be the case. Chiarelli stopped short of naming McDavid the future captain, but all signs are pointing in that direction. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reported it’s likely that McDavid will be named the official leader of the team sometime before the 2016-17 season. However, if there was any lingering doubt about McDavid as captain, it was all but put to rest Monday as coach Todd McLellan extolled the virtues of McDavid following the burgeoning star’s rookie campaign.

“Connor was a tremendous leader with us this year in his short time with us. His presence alone when he walks into the room — and he knows it — he exudes confidence, he carries himself properly,” McLellan said. “I think leaders attract to people. You want to be in his corner, you want to be around him and leaders, when they attract people, they care about people, too. And Connor has that going. He’s still 19, but I think he’s close to being the guy and ready for it.”

And whether or not he’s ready for it — and all signs indicate he indeed is — McLellan’s praise makes it seem even more certain McDavid will have the ‘C’ on his sweater next season. And for the Oilers, naming McDaivd captain couldn’t make more sense. Read more

Oilers say farewell to Rexall Place with touching video showcasing historic moments

Jared Clinton
Edmonton Oilers alumni salute the fans during the closing ceremonies at Rexall Place (Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

For 42 years, the Edmonton Oilers have called Rexall Place home, but Wednesday night saw the team play their final game in the building that was formerly known as Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton Coliseum and Skyreach Centre.

The past several seasons haven’t been the most successful in Oilers’ history, of that there’s no doubt, but the teams who have called Rexall Place home over the past four decades have made some memories that will last a lifetime.

On ice, the Oilers sent the building off in style with a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, but that was only the beginning of the celebrations. Following the game, nearly 150 alumni trotted back out onto the Rexall Place ice to take part in a post-game closing ceremony for the arena, with legendary Oilers such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr among those in attendance.

One of the final moments in the building was a touching video tribute to all the great moments the building has seen, with everything from Edmonton’s first Stanley Cup victory to the magical 2006 run to the Cup final packed into the four-minute video: Read more

Five memorable Rexall Place moments in honor of Oilers’ final game at arena

Jared Clinton
Wayne Gretzky (Focus On Sport/Getty Images)

If the Oilers’ rebuild had gone the way those in the Edmonton had hoped back when the team drafted Taylor Hall first overall in 2010, there’s a chance the Oilers would be able to send the Rexall Place out in post-season style.

However, six seasons and zero Stanley Cup playoff appearances later, the Oilers aren’t post-season bound and Rexall Place will host its final game Wednesday night in the midst of yet another season where Edmonton can land the first overall pick.

On-ice results aside, though, Rexall Place — formerly known as Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton Coliseum and Skyreach Center — has seen a lot of winning teams over the past four decades, played host to the game’s greatest offensive player and left a large number of Edmontonians with hockey memories that will last a lifetime. Here are five of the best: Read more

Oilers coach McLellan rips team after loss to Flames

Daniel Nugent-Bowman
Todd McLellan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers lost 5-0 to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night in what was the final matchup of the Battle of Alberta at Rexall Place before they move into their new downtown arena in the fall.

And Todd McLellan couldn’t have been steamed about it.

The first-year Oilers coach blasted his team after the game, calling the players’ lackluster output “frickin’ embarrassing.”

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