THN’s 2015-16 NHL season preview: Edmonton Oilers

The Hockey News
Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

2014-15 Record: 24-44-14 (62 Pts.)

THN’s Prediction: 5th, Pacific Division

What To Expect: Oilers ownership knew the moment the organization won the Connor McDavid lottery that their fortunes had changed overnight. Still, after trying for nine years to break the cycle of misery that saw Edmonton become a perennial lottery team, it was clear the franchise needed a new crop of decision makers to guide the McDavid era. Thus, the president of hockey operations, GM, coaches and scouts were swept aside to make way for new architects: CEO Bob Nicholson and GM-president Peter Chiarelli.

The first stabilizing move Chiarelli made was hiring coach Todd McLellan, who led the Sharks to the playoffs six out of seven seasons. Chiarelli then shored up the blueline, signing Andrej Sekera and dealing for Eric Gryba, and fortified the crease with Rangers backup Cam Talbot. His performance as the No. 1 this season will have as great a bearing on the club as McDavid’s — Edmonton’s goals against has been pitiful. Read more

Oscar Klefbom signs seven-year, $29-million pact with Oilers

Jared Clinton
Oscar Klefbom (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers have locked up young, promising defensemen Oscar Klefbom to a long-term deal.

Sunday morning, the Oilers officially announced they have signed Klefbom to a seven-year contract. According to General Fanager, the deal, which will kick in next season, is worth $29.17-million and carries a cap hit of $4.167-million per campaign.

The 22-year-old blueliner has only 77 games under his belt, but the Oilers locking him up is a big vote of confidence for Klefbom. After getting his feet wet in 2013-14 by playing 17 games with the Oilers, Klefbom was a fixture of Edmonton’s top two pairings in 2014-15, suiting up for 60 games and averaging 22 minutes per game on the backend. Read more

Connor McDavid to sit out second consecutive prospects game as healthy scratch

Jared Clinton
Connor McDavid  (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Fans in Penticton, B.C., hoping to get a glimpse of Connor McDavid in the Oilers’ Young Stars tournament finale are going to be disappointed, as Edmonton has announced the 2015 first-overall selection won’t be in the lineup to take on the Winnipeg Jets Monday afternoon.

For McDavid, it will be the second consecutive Young Stars game he has been held out of. He suited up for the Oilers’ tournament-opening contest against the Vancouver Canucks prospects and notched one goal and an assist, but he was held out of Edmonton’s second contest, a game against provincial rival Calgary.

According to Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, it wasn’t anything that has happened in the tournament that will keep McDavid out. Rather, it was a choice Chiarelli made due to the amount of games McDavid is likely to suit up for this season. Read more

Futures mailbag: Ehlers vs. McDavid, Ty Rattie’s time and more

Ty Rattie of St. Louis (Photo by Jeff Curry/NHLI via Getty Images)

The hockey season officially got underway Thursday night with Shawinigan stomping Rimouski 7-2 in the QMJHL. My first road trip of the year is this weekend as well, as I head out to the Traverse City prospects tournament in Michigan. Hosted by the Detroit Red Wings, the shindig involves youngsters and hopefuls for eight NHL teams – Detroit, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Carolina, Minnesota, Columbus and the Rangers. You’ll find questions involving a couple of those teams below.

And as always, if you have a question you’d like to see answered, go to my Twitter page (@THNRyanKennedy) and use the hashtag #thnfutures. Let’s get to your queries:

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Futures mailbag: Upside for Nurse and Reinhart, Fiala and more

Darnell Nurse (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Welcome back to the Futures mailbag. We’re only one week away from real, regular season hockey being played in the Quebec League and other junior circuits will follow after that. In the meantime, here are more prospect and draft questions from you, the readers. If you have a query for me, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and attach the hashtag #thnfutures to make sure I see it. Let’s get to the questions!

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AHL Logo Ranking: No. 18 – Bakersfield Condors

Jared Clinton
Bakersfield Condors logo (via Creamer)

(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

The Bakersfield Condors have lived up to their billing as one of the most fun teams in all of professional hockey over the past few seasons, but the on-ice product hasn’t exactly been as successful. That could all change with 2015-16’s jump to the AHL, however.

In the four years prior to 2015-16, the Condors were an ECHL club of the same name and only made the playoffs once in the past four campaigns — albeit that was a run to the third round of the post-season. Only once have they eclipsed the 60-point plateau. But they’ve never ceased to be entertaining.

For 2015-16, the year the team becomes the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors thanks to the league’s shift to the West Coast, things look promising. Bakersfield is inheriting an Oklahoma City Barons club that has made the post-season in each of the past five seasons and hasn’t seen many major changes to the roster this off-season.

Leading scorer Andrew Miller will be back, as will Matthew Ford and rookie Joshua Winquist, who were re-signed in the off-season. That’s not to mention young guns like Bogdan Yakimov, Iiro Pakarainen and Leon Draisaitl are all likely to play in Bakersfield this season. Add to it newly acquired defenseman Griffin Reinhart, top prospect blueliner Darnell Nurse and goaltending standout Laurent Brossoit and the on-ice product might be just as fun as the promotions in the building. Read more

Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall: speed kills

Ryan Kennedy
Edmonton's Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s gotta be a fun time to be an Edmonton Oilers fan. I mean, not 1980s fun, but still pretty good. Bob Nicholson, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan have brought respectability back to the suits section, while a certain No. 1 draft pick hasn’t even made his highly-anticipated debut yet. Connor McDavid is in Toronto right now at the annual BioSteel summer training camp, run by guru Matt Nichol. Taylor Hall is also at the camp and the two got to hit the ice together on Monday for drills and scrimmage action.

So here’s a delightful game if you’re an Edmonton fan: guess which one of the No. 1 draft picks said the following:

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Which Canadian team will reign supreme in 2015-16?

Canadiens stars Carey Price and P.K. Subban. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

While there’s no award given for finishing as the best Canadian team in the NHL, it’s always a point of pride for the seven clubs north of the border.

In 2014-15, the Montreal Canadiens were practically carried by the incredible play of Carey Price, finishing atop the Atlantic Division and just three points back of capturing the Presidents’ Trophy. In addition to leading the charge in the Atlantic, though, the Canadiens also ended the campaign as the best Canadian club in the league — and, it just so happened, as the Canadian team with the best shot at capturing Canada’s first Stanley Cup since 1993.

Montreal has made some interesting additions to the lineup this off-season by acquiring struggling sniper Alexander Semin, grinder Zack Kassian and defenseman Mark Barberio. The trade deadline additions of Brian Flynn, Devante Smith-Pelly, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn will also get a full season in Montreal this time around. But in 2015-16, does Montreal finish atop the heap of Canadian teams again or does another club unseat them as the country’s best club? Read more