Some interesting developments in Edmonton on Tuesday.
Like he did during his time in San Jose, head coach Todd McLellan created a clear divide in training camp by comprising one group mostly of NHLers, and the other of players destined for the American League.
The divide has already created a buzz on the Oilers’ blueline.
Griffin Reinhart, the former No. 4 overall pick acquired from the Isles at the draft, was in the NHL group while Darnell Nurse, the seventh pick in ’13 and considered the club’s top d-man prospect, was in the AHL group.
Not that Nurse was bothered by it.
“There’s a lot of guys in that first group who have played in the NHL or played pro hockey for a while,” he said, per the Edmonton Journal. “I have some things to prove but it doesn’t matter what group you’re in, you’re in training camp and you are battling no matter what.”
The eight d-men in the NHL group were Reinhart, Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Oscar Klefbom, Justin Schultz, Andrew Ference, Eric Gryba and Nikita Nikitin. All of them have extensive pro experience save Reinhart, who appeared in just eight games for the Isles last year (though he did play 59 games for AHL Bridgeport.)
The group doesn’t appear to be that tough to crack.
Despite skating with the AHLers, Nurse should be able to challenge for promotion to the NHLers — if anything, this is probably a motivational tactic, or something to remind the 20-year-old that everything is earned/nothing is given.
McLellan has already said as much. During his opening meeting with players, he explained that this is how camp would go, adding that it “creates a little bit of a competitive environment.”