Oilers get a first-hand look at their future

taylorhall3.jpgA lot of teams are holding their development camps to get a look at the prospects they’ve been harvesting through the draft the last few years. One place that is getting a lot of attention from its own fans is Edmonton and with good reason. With this year’s top pick Taylor Hall, Canadian junior hockey star Jordan Eberle and Swedish phenom Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson there’s a lot of reason to have hope for the not-so distant future of a once proud franchise and the fans and media in Edmonton know it as David Staples of the Edmonton Journal shares.

As fellow fan, Bruce McCurdy of Copper & Blue, who watched over the drills with me, put it, “I’ve been following these names as lines on a screen for a long time. I wanted to see them. This is the nucleus of the new Oilers. I’m not sure that the 20 guys out there on the ice aren’t more important for the future of the team than the 20 guys who finished the season with the Oilers. This is a turning of the page.”

It’s hard not to get excited about seeing the fruits of past drafts all coming together and all with the distinct possibility of starting next season in the NHL. Hall most certainly will be in Edmonton, and with Paajarvi and Eberle both showing their abilities on the ice at the World Junior Championships and IIHF World Championships this past year, there’s not a lot more for them to prove to show that they’re NHL-ready. As for Tom Renney, the new coach of the Oilers and the guy with the task of managing (or mismanaging) three potential stars, he’s perhaps more excited than the fans are although he’s being sensible with his approach.

“What I’m OK with is putting the best team on the ice we can,” Renney said when asked if all three could make the team this season. “Whoever those spots go to, so be it. We might have more than three guys for that matter. Who’s to say? I don’t know.

“We can project until we’re blue in the face as to who might be here, but there’s a process involved. The beauty of it is nobody knows that better than those three kids.”

Hope is a fun, yet perilous, thing when you’re a fan of a team that’s missed the playoffs four years straight and managed to be, by far, the worst team in the NHL last year. The amount of talent in those three players is astounding but there’s even a handful more of guys who could turn out to be NHL players as well. Whether Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi turn out in Edmonton this year could be a big draw for the Oilers but getting them to the NHL when they’re most ready to be there and big players is more important. That said, the Oilers talent ranks have thinned out enough so that having all three start in the NHL might actually be the best thing to happen to the franchise.

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    NHL schedules hearing with Orpik over Maatta hit

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    Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.

    At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.

    The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.

    You can see that hit below:

    “I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

    The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.

    ‘I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,’ Jets GM Cheveldayoff gets lucky with draft lottery

    Kevin Cheveldayoff, general manager of Winnipeg Jets, speaks to members of the media after winning the second selection of the NHL hockey draft lottery in Toronto, Saturday, April 30, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won the draft lottery, but an argument can be made that the luckiest team last night was the Winnipeg Jets.

    After all, Toronto had the best odds to get the top pick, but Winnipeg jumped from sixth to second in the draft order.

    “I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Sun. “I was doing my scrum at the end (of the show) with the media that was here, I said at one point, ‘Moving from six to two…’ and I had to catch myself and go through the mental notes in my head that it had just really happened.”

    It’s likely, though not guaranteed, that the Maple Leafs will take Auston Matthews with the first overall pick. Assuming that’s the case, moving up to the second overall pick means that Winnipeg will have the option of choosing one of the two promising Finnish forwards available: Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi.

    That’s potentially a big break for Winnipeg, especially after this campaign where the Jets went from making the playoffs for the first time since relocating to posting a 35-39-8 record. Through five campaigns in Winnipeg, the Jets have missed the playoffs four times.

    The last time this franchise drafted this high was back when the then Atlanta Thrashers took Kari Lehtonen with the second overall pick in 2002. That was the final year in a string of four straight drafts where the Thrashers always had the first or second selection. The previous three years they took Patrik Stefan (1999), Dany Heatley (2000), and Ilya Kovalchuk (2001).

    Related: Shanahan: Leafs earned No. 1 pick ‘the hard way’

    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for today

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    After the Eastern Conference Game 2s played out on Saturday, we’re getting the Western Conference set today. You can watch the action via NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Here’s a quick overview of where specifically you can watch the contests:

    St. Louis at Dallas (3:00 p.m. ET)

    If you want to watch the game on television, NBC is the channel to do that. If you want to stream the game with the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Nashville at San Jose (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The game will be televised on NBCSN. You can also stream the contest by clicking here.

    Here’s some relevant pregame reading material:

    With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

    Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

    Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

    Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

    Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

    Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

    The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

    Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

    But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

    “I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”