Edmonton Oilers

PHT Morning Skate: Mark McGwire thinks hockey players are ‘the best athletes on the earth’

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Retired baseball player Mark McGwire called hockey players “the best athletes on the earth.” (LA Kings Insider)

Guy Carbonneau, Marty Turco, Greg Adams, and Richard Matvichuk are among a group of Dallas Stars alumni that will take part in a charity game against the Israeli National Team. The contest will be held on Sept. 12 at the Dr Pepper Arena located in Frisco, Texas. (Dallas Morning News)

We already wrote about the top-10 players in each position as far as the ratings for EA Sports’ upcoming video game NHL 16 are concerned. From that we could determine who the game’s top rated players were, but there are a lot of players that have the same overall rating, so for example figuring out which player among those with a 94 rating was the highest wasn’t doable. Now it is though as the top-50 overall list is out. (EA Sports)

The 2015-16 Calder Trophy race might be more than just Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel. (Postmedia Network)

Patrice Bergeron is looking for the Boston Bruins to be more consistent this season and he thinks part of the solution is to avoid getting comfortable with a one-goal lead. (CSN New England)

Jakub Voracek will donate $1,000 for every point he records in 2015-16 to his new foundation, which seeks to help those with multiple sclerosis. (Puck Daddy)

Voynov detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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Slava Voynov has been moved from jail to an unspecified detention facility by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Voynov, who is a Russian citizen, will have a hearing with an immigration judge, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reported that the Los Angeles Kings have declined to comment on this latest development.

Voynov began his jail sentence on July 7 after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

The 25-year-old defenseman hasn’t played in the NHL since Oct. 6 because he was suspended by the league.

He has also been recovering from a ruptured Achilles, but LA Kings Insider stated back in July, “the expectation, based on multiple conversations with those in hockey operations, is that he’ll be a part of the blue line when he recovers from a ruptured Achilles. There are still major impediments in the way of him putting on a Kings jersey again.”

Los Angeles lost defensemen Andrej Sekera as an unrestricted free agent this summer and Robyn Regehr has retired, but the Kings did sign Christian Ehrhoff to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

Wild hire ex-Oilers goalie coach Chabot

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On Thursday, Minnesota announced the hiring of former NHL goalie and Edmonton goalie coach Frederic Chabot as the club’s new director of goaltender development.

Chabot, 47, was fired by the Oilers early last season with the team holding the NHL’s worst save percentage. How much of that was on Chabot is up for debate; Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth underwhelmed all year long, and with Fasth now in the KHL and Scrivens seemingly relegated to a backup role, it’s fair to say that neither was a legit No. 1 NHL netminder.

Of course, Chabot worked with other goalies during his five-plus years in Edmonton.

Chief among them? Wild starter and Vezina finalist Devan Dubnyk.

At first glance, bringing in Chabot based on his work with Dubnyk might seem odd, especially since Dunbyk was a flop in Edmonton and never posted very good numbers. But to hear Dubnyk explain it, his poor play in Edmonton had nothing to do with Chabot, a guy he holds in pretty high esteem.

“He’s been incredible for me,” Dubnyk told CBC Sports last year.

Note: The Wild still have Bob Mason as their goaltending coach, to clear up any confusion. Chabot will work with “goalie prospects throughout the Minnesota Wild organization, including goaltenders playing for the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League.”

Wings’ Franzen: ‘I’m excited to try to get back and have a good year’

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Red Wings’ forward Johan Franzen hasn’t played since suffering a concussion on Jan. 6, but remains hopeful he’ll be ready for Detroit’s season opener on Oct. 9 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 35-year-old took part in an informal skate at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday with fellow teammates, but has yet to participate in any kind of contact drills.

“It feels good so far; it’s probably too early to tell until I start playing games,” Franzen told MLive.com. “I’m going at it hard – a little bit too much, actually – just to see that I can take it.”

Franzen suffered his latest concussion on a hit from Edmonton’s Rob Klinkhammer. The concussion limited Franzen to just 33 games last season where he scored seven goals and 15 assists.

Despite the concussion troubles, the Swede has not considered retirement.

“I haven’t been there yet, really, in my thoughts,” Franzen said. “It’s been so many tough years here the last 2-3 years with injuries; I just want to have a good year. I want to decide on my own when I quit. I’m excited to try to get back and have a good year.

“Being where I was mid-season, not being able to get out of bed, it really makes you appreciate being able to do what we do.”

The Red Wings believe Franzen will be fully cleared when he takes his physical later this month at training camp.

According to Ansar Khan, Franzen suffered his latest setback last week, but continues his rigorous workouts.

“It’s four hours of working out, going on the ice, going biking, going full out, it kind of triggers (symptoms),” Franzen said. “I don’t know if it’s smart or not, but I do that. I think if I can do that, I can get through a game, or 82 games, hopefully.

“The way I work out then is going to be different than it is now. It’s going to be shorter, more explosive. A game is going to be different and I think it’s going to be easier. You’re going to get bumped a lot and there’s the mental stuff, too, but physically it’s going to be easier than what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.”

Franzen has five years remaining on his current 11-year, $43.5 million deal.

New Oilers goalie Nilsson ready ‘to challenge for the No. 1 job’

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Back in July, Edmonton made an intriguing, under-the-radar move by acquiring the rights to KHL goalie Anders Nilsson.

The deal didn’t garner much attention, possibly because the Oilers had already made a bigger splash in goal — trading for ex-Rangers backup Cam Talbot at the draft — and, of course, they still had Ben Scrivens in the mix.

But the attention could soon be on Nilsson.

“My mindset is to challenge for the No. 1 job,” the Swedish stopper told the Edmonton Journal. “That’s why I signed the one-year contract and it’s up to me to perform.”

Nilsson, 25, is an interesting entity.

Picked 62nd overall by the Isles in 2009, he appeared in 23 games for New York over three seasons before signing with KHL team AK Bars Kazan last summer. A few months later, the Isles traded Nilsson’s rights — he was an RFA upon leaving for Russia — to Chicago, as part of the Nick Leddy deal.

In Russia, Nilsson boosted his stock by going 20-9-8 with a 1.71 GAA and .936 save percentage. He also played for Team Sweden at the 2015 Worlds, splitting time with Jhonas Enroth.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder signed with Edmonton almost immediately upon being acquired, seemingly determined to resurrect his NHL career. With the Oilers, he’s projected to battle Scrivens for the No. 2 gig behind Talbot — who, tentatively, is penciled in as the No. 1 — but if the last few years in Edmonton have shown anything, it’s that minutes in net are constantly up for grabs.