The Oilers are officially through week 1 of their ‘Return to Play’ camp. In five days, the club will enter the Edmonton bubble with the other eleven Western playoff teams, and in a week they will return to game action with a preseason tilt against the Calgary Flames.
On Tuesday, the Oilers once again worked at the Community Ice Arena at Rogers Place. They were in the presence of a Hart Trophy candidate, and spent time working on special teams.
Here are some observations and notes from another day at training camp.
Draisaitl For Hart:
Leon Draisaitl was named a Hart Trophy finalist on Tuesday. He was joined by Artemi Panarin (Rangers) and Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado). If that sentence seems familiar, its because the three of them were all named finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award last week. In the eyes of the players and writers, these three were the NHL’s top dogs this past season.
Draisaitl is the fifth player in franchise history to be nominated for the Hart Trophy. He joins Connor McDavid, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Grant Fuhr. McDavid (2017), Messier (1990) and Gretzky (1980-87) have taken home the award.
“It’s an honour to be a part of that group,” Draisaitl said on Tuesday when asked about joining that group of elite Oilers players.
Draisaitl won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer, and as mentioned is up for the Ted Lindsay Award. The Hart nomination shouldn’t have been a surprise.
It was still quite an honour for the German superstar.
“It’s a huge honour to all of us to be nominated for both awards,” Draisaitl continued. “It’s hard to pick one (award), but getting picked from your opposing players or teammates, that one is special for sure.”
Lines Remain Intact:
The Oilers worked quite a bit on their special teams on Tuesday. The club spent time on the power play and penalty kill, but also put an emphasis on pace.
That’s been a common denominator during Dave Tippett’s first season behind the bench in Edmonton. The Oilers have played with pace and looked quite faster than they did in 2018-19.
That’s evident when you look at the lines, which feature speed throughout the lineup.
The Oilers kept their lines intact from Saturday. That’s when Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou swapped spots on lines two and three.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Tyler Ennis – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Andreas Athanasiou – Riley Sheahan – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Jujhar Khaira – Alex Chiasson
Joakim Nygard – Gaetan Haas – Patrick Russell
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Kris Russell – Matt Benning
Philip Broberg – William Lagesson
Bouchard Doesn’t Skate With Main Group:
A number of Oilers fans rolled their eyes when Mark Spector of Sportsnet posted an article claiming that Broberg had passed Evan Bouchard on the club’s depth chart. Less than 24 hours later, Bouchard was skating with the extra players while Broberg worked with the main group.
Broberg was paired with fellow Swede Lagesson, while Bouchard skated prior to the main group with AHL Bakersfield teammates Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody and Ryan McLeod, along with goalies Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells.
Bouchard skated before practice not with main Oiler group. Hurt? Sick? Farmhand line of Marody and Benson and McLeod not practising with main guys either— Jim Matheson (@jimmathesonnhl) July 21, 2020
It’s probably a little dangerous to read too much into Tuesday’s groups. Head coach Dave Tippett told reporters that Bouchard was left out of the main group because the Oilers were working on special teams.
Although Bouchard is a power play ace, the team needed an extra penalty killer. Bouchard doesn’t kill penalties, so he skated beforehand with the other extras.
Is it really that simple, or was Spector onto something Monday night?
The Oilers will wrap up training camp on Saturday night before heading into the bubble on Sunday. The last thing they’ll do in camp? Honor their former teammate, Colby Cave.
The club announced on Tuesday that they are holding a scrimmage Saturday to pay tribute to the late Cave. The team’s training camp roster will be split into two teams and all players will wear No. 12 jerseys, Cave’s number. The jerseys will be auctioned at a later date to raise money for the Colby Cave Memorial Fund.
The Oilers are back at it on Wednesday.