Category Archives: Custom Edmonton Oilers Jerseys

Mike Smith Jersey

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Sportsnet Staff
@Sportsnet
December 1, 2019, 3:31 PM
14
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith is day-to-day with a leg injury and won’t be in the lineup against the Vancouver Canucks Sunday.

Edmonton Oilers

@EdmontonOilers
The #Oilers have recalled goaltender Stuart Skinner from the @Condors on an emergency basis, as Mike Smith (leg) is day-to-day.

Zack Kassian (back) is day-to-day & won’t play tonight, while Kris Russell has left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

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4:10 AM – Dec 2, 2019
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Smith was in goal for Edmonton in their loss to Vancouver Saturday and allowed five goals on 43 shots. In 15 games this season the 37-year-old has a 7-7-1 record with a 2.83 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

The Oilers have recalled Stuart Skinner from the Bakersfield Condors on an emergency basis to backup starter Mikko Koskinen Sunday. The 21-year-old has a 7-5-2 record with a 3.23 GAA and a .890 save percentage in 15 games with Bakersfield.

In other Oilers news, forward Zack Kassian is also day-to-day with a back injury and Kris Russell won’t be available Sunday due to the the birth of his second child.

Riley Sheahan Jersey

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The Buffalo Sabres were able to salvage their three-game Western Canada road trip on Sunday night with a 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Pace in Edmonton, Alberta. With the win, the Sabres ended their trip by going 1-1-1 and earning three of a possible six points in the standings.

After getting out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Oilers came back to tie the game in the second period and eventually force overtime.

It took Buffalo just 1:13 into overtime for defenseman Colin Miller to score his first goal as a member of the Sabres to give the team a much-needed two points. Miller was able to finish off a nice passing play in front of the Oilers net with a snap shot that just got past goalie Mike Smith and into the back of the net.

It was Sabres forward Kyle Okposo who got things started in the first period with his third goal of the year and second goal in as many games. Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella fired a slap shot from the point off a turnover in the Edmonton zone that found its way to Okposo’s stick and in past Smith for the first goal of the game.

After the Sabres and Oilers traded a couple of penalties back and forth, the Sabres found the back of the net again shortly after getting to even strength. This time, it was Johan Larsson giving the Sabres a two-goal lead after a shot from Jimmy Vesey left him wide open in front of the net with the puck. Larsson slipped it between Smith’s legs to give him his third goal of the season.

The Sabres ended up outshooting the Oilers through the opening 20 minutes, 11-10, and took a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room.

The Oilers took over the second period and were able to battle their way back to tie the game.

Edmonton closed the gap to 2-1 at the 8:25 mark of the period when forward Riley Sheahan was sprung for a breakaway in on Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark after a turnover in the Oilers end. Sheahan turned to the backhand and slid the puck through the five-hole of Ullmark for his first goal of the season.

Later in the period, Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian took his second penalty of the period for a hook on on Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira. In the dying seconds of the power play chance, the Oilers were able to convert as forward Joakim Nygard was able to get a piece of a Darnell Nurse shot from the point to tie the game at 2-2.

Buffalo ended up getting outshot in the period 12-4, and were lucky to be tied at 2-2 heading into the third period.

The final 20 minutes saw its chances for both teams, but Ullmark came up big, making a huge save on Connor McDavid late in the period to keep the Sabres in it.

Both teams had six shots on goal in the third, while also earning a point in the standings by forcing overtime.

At the 1:13 mark of the overtime period, the Sabres got the game-winning goal from Miller after a nice passing play with forwards Marcus Johansson and Jack Eichel. The goal was Miller’s first career overtime goal.

With the secondary assist on the overtime goal, Eichel was able to extend his career-long point streak to 13 games. In that stretch, the Sabres captain has scored 10 goals and registered 13 assists for 23 points.

GAME SUMMARY

Goal Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 4:08 – Kyle Okposo (3) (Marco Scandella), 10:43 – Johan Larsson (3) (Jimmy Vesey, Rasmus Asplund)
EDM: NONE

Second Period:

BUF: NONE
EDM: 8:25 – Riley Sheahan (1) (Darnell Nurse, Joakim Nygard), 15:56 – Joakim Nygard (2) PPG (Darnell Nurse, Gaetan Haas)

Third Period:

BUF: NONE
EDM: NONE

Overtime:

BUF: 1:13 – Colin Miller (1) (Marcus Johansson, Jack Eichel)
EDM: NONE

Penalty Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 5:22 – Brandon Montour (Tripping – 2 min.)
EDM: 7:42 – Markus Granlund (High-sticking – 2 min.); 15:26 – Connor McDavid (Hooking – 2 min.)

Second Period:

BUF: 5:40 – Zach Bogosian (Holding the Stick – 2 min.); 13:57 – Zach Bogosian (Hooking – 2 min.)
EDM: 17:31 – Joel Persson (Hooking – 2 min.)

Third Period:

BUF: NONE
EDM: NONE

Overtime:

BUF: NONE
EDM: NONE

Shots on Goal:

BUF: 22 (11, 4, 6, 1)
EDM: 28 (10, 12, 6, 0)

Goalies:

BUF: Linus Ullmark – 26 saves
EDM: Mike Smith – 19 saves

Power Plays:

BUF: 0 for 3 (0%)
EDM: 1 for 3 (33.3%)

Three Stars:

Darnell Nurse
Linus Ullmark
Joakim Nygard

What’s Next:

The Sabres return home for a matchup with the top team in the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at KeyBank Center. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show starting at 6:30 p.m. with Schopp and the Bulldog at (716) Food and Sport. The game will be televised on NBCSN, so the only place to hear local coverage of the game is on WGR.

Joakim Nygard Jersey

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Edmonton Oilers centre Riley Sheahan had been down this road before in Detroit where the games and the zeroes kept piling up like sign-posts on an interminable journey: 20 games, 40 games, 60 games, 80 games.

He scored in game 82, two goals actually in that final game of the 2016-2017 season.

So, breaking through in the Oilers 32nd game Sunday against Buffalo must have felt like a speed bump for the Oilers best penalty-killer. He tucked one through the legs of Linus Ullmark eight minutes into the second period racing in alone off a nice Joakim Nygard feed.

Nygard also scored on a deflection—more on that later—as the Oiler role players were all over the scoresheet in this 3-2 OT loss while the No. 1 lines on both sides were negated through 60 minutes.

“Huge relief for sure…it’s up and down and every guy deals with it,” said Sheahan, who had two terrific chances earlier on the penalty-kill and finished with four shots, just like Connor McDavid.

McDavid didn’t speak after the loss but Sheahan had a rare chance to talk about offence.

“I dealt with a few years back in Detroit and that was really tough and I was trying to bear down and make sure it wasn’t a repeat,” he said.

Sheahan was at fault on Kyle Okposo’s tip of Marc Scandella’s shot four minutes into the game when his clearing pass ending up on the Buffalo defenceman’s stick. But he ripped a shortie off Ullmark’s blocker and got stopped in close shortly after that. No mistake in alone though.

The Oilers have the NHL’s second-best PK but haven’t scored shorthanded yet. Sheahan came close as they let him sashay into the Buffalo end in the first for an uncontested shot. A rare offensive foray for Sheahan, really. “We’ve got so many guys who can put the puck in the net on our power play and on the penalty-kill we’re just trying to do our job (stopping chances),” he said.

He got stopped there but not on his breakaway.

“I kind of had positive thoughts there. I don’t get breakaways often but I knew the move I was going to do. Great pass from Ny (Nygard) and an earlier block by Darnell,” he said.

“It’s important, the whole depth thing…every team wants that,” said Sheahan. “I think we have scored a few the last while, and Connor and Leon get a lot of ice and if we can help them out, that’s huge.”

Two-point night for Nygard
Nygard only played 8:27, but they were quality minutes. Only Gaetan Haas (7:58), who set up the Nygard deflection on the last few seconds of a power play in the second, played less. Nygard’s goal and assist came in eight shifts over 5:11 in the first 40 minutes. His first multi-point game.

“I haven’t been satisfied with my performance for a few games since I came back from my injury (ribs),” said Nygard, who was a healthy scratch in three. “I feel much better now.”

He isn’t getting much ice-time (averaging 10:18) but that’s life for first-year NHLers.

“Of course it’s harder to produce but you have to earn it (minuets),” said Nygard.

“They (McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) produce every night and we have to produce a bit too.” But when the Oilers best two players don’t get a point in the same game, the Oilers have lost 24 consecutive games, a stat that stings.

Nygard’s Swedish teammate Oscar Klefbom knows how hard it is for NHL rookies.

“Back home he’s on the power play, he has a different role on his team…but the way he played tonight, I’m really happy. He brings a lot of speed. Even though he won’t get a lot of chances himself, he’ll create a lot for his teammates,’ said Klefbom.

“And if he continues to go to the net, he’ll score more goals.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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Edmonton Oilers defenceman left Sunday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks after being hit in the head with a puck.

Edmonton Oilers

@EdmontonOilers
#Oilers d-man Matt Benning will not return to tonight’s game.

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1:16 PM – Dec 2, 2019
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The play happened in the first period when Josh Levio took a shot that hit Benning in the back of the helmet.

He was slow to get up and was taken to the locker room.

Benning will be reassessed on Monday.

The 25-year-old was playing in his first game after missing five with a concussion.

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The Edmonton Oilers’ CEO recently made the news after making comments about the play of former Coyote Tobias Rieder. Rieder has since responded in probably as diplomatically a way as possible when your boss publicly calls you. While Rieder isn’t having the best season, he is far from the biggest reason for Edmonton’s struggles this season. Unfortunately Rieder is just one of a few recent Arizona Coyotes who have struggled in Edmonton or had their NHL careers come to an end soon after going from Arizona to Edmonton.

Rob Klinkhammer
The then Phoenix Coyotes signed Rob Klinkhammer during the 2012 offseason and he would initially spend time in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. He did get called up during his first season and would score five goals and six assists in his first 22 games. His play was good enough that he would spend the entire 2013-14 season with the Yotes where he would register eleven goals and nine assists. Ultimately the Coyotes would trade Klinkhammer to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Philip Samuelsson in December of 2014.

Later during the 2014-15 season the Penguins would send a first-round pick and Klinkhammer to the Edmonton Oilers for David Perron. In 40 games with the Oilers Klinkhammer would tally a goal and two assists, enough to earn him a one-year extension. The 2015-16 season would see Klinkhammer splitting time between the Oilers and the Bakersfield Condors, and in his final fourteen games in the NHL he would register a single goal and no assists.

Since the 2015-16 season Klinkhammer has spent time in the KHL playing with HC Dinamo Minsk and the Ak Bars Kazan.

Lauri Korpikoski
Unlike Klinkhammer, Korpikoski managed to play in the NHL after playing for the Edmonton Oilers. After six season with the Coyotes where he would tally 62 goals and 83 assists, Arizona traded Korpikoski to the Oilers in for Boyd Gordon. After scoring ten goals and twelve assists during the 2015-16 season the Oilers would buy out the remaining year of Korpikoski’s four-year, $10 million contract. He would sign a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars, splitting the 2016-17 season between Dallas and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Korpikoski would sign on with the ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League and has also played with TPS Turku in the SM-Iiiga league in Finland.

Boyd Gordon
After spending seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Boyd Gordon found success with the Phoenix Coyotes as a penalty killer and one of the best faceoff artists on the team. The Oilers would sign Gordon as a free agent to a three-year, $9 million deal, but after two years they were ready to move him. The Coyotes would eventually reacquire him in the previously mentioned Korpikoski trade, and he would play in 64 games with Arizona registering two goals and two assists. During the 2016 offseason he would sign a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, only playing in thirteen games with the Flyers and spending time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Boyd Gordon appears to have retired from professional hockey and is not currently playing.

Ilya Bryzgalov
Ilya Bryzgalov will be remembered for some of the best quotes in hockey. But before he was pondering the nature of the universe on HBO he spent four season with the Coyotes as their starting goaltender. He would sign a humongous big nine-year, $41.88 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, which would prove to be a mistake for the Flyers. After two years into a nine year contract, his contract would be bought out and he would be out of a job. He would be one of six goaltenders to play for the Oilers during the 2013-14 season, along with another former goaltender Jason LaBabera. The Oilers traded him to the Minnesota Wild where he would play twelve games. The 2014-15 season would the end of Bryzgalov’s career, playing two games with the Norfolk Admirals and his final eight games in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks.

Bryzgalov hasn’t played professional hockey since finishing his career in Anaheim, although he has been active. For a deeper dive check out Pucks of a Feather’s look into his career and life beyond.

Jason LaBarbera
LaBarbera spent four season with the Coyotes, backing up both Ilya Bryzgalov and Mike Smith after he was brought in. Before Smith’s first training camp there was talk of it being anyone’s crease, so Barbs could have potentially been the starter if Mike Smith hadn’t found massive success in his first season with the Coyotes. He would sign with the Oilers where he would back up Devan Dubnyk during Dubnyk’s last season in Edmonton. LaBarbera would get traded to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2013-14 season where he would play for the Rockford Icehogs exclusively. He would play his last five games in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks during the 2014-15 season, a season that also saw him play with the Norfolk Admirals. LaBarbera would ultimately sign with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2015 offseason spending the entire season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Since retiring from playing Jason LaBarbera has been the goaltending coach of the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.

So what can we learn from all of this? For many of these players their time with the Coyotes was the high point of their careers and they would struggle when removed from Arizona’s system. Going to Edmonton wasn’t always a career killer, but it ended up coinciding with the decline of their NHL careers. Edmonton hasn’t been the best run organization over the past few years, but the fact that Edmonton acquired a lot of players who didn’t have NHL careers after playing for them is telling. Probably the biggest lesson though is if you have played for the Coyotes you should probably avoid signing with Edmonton, and if you can work that into your free agent contract it will probably help you out. As for Tobias Rieder, he will hopefully be able to find success post-Edmonton.

Sheldon Souray Jersey

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Sheldon Souray’s Oilers career began with much fanfare. In the complicated post-Cup run years, Souray was the biggest free agent acquisition made by Kevin Lowe. The Elk Point, Alberta product inked a five-year deal worth $27,000,000 to finally fill the massive void left on Edmonton’s blueline with the departure of Chris Pronger.

Thanks to injuries, that didn’t happen. Souray was nursing a shoulder injury in training camp in 2007 but played through it. He would end up injuring himself getting into a fight five games into the year and missed all but 26 games that season. In 2008-09, Souray was excellent. He suited up in 81 games, scored 23 goals, and logged 24:51 per game. There was the No. 1 defenceman the Oilers were hoping for.

But after that, injuries stung Souray and he would never play a full season with the Oilers again. Souray suffered a concussion three games into the 2009-10 season when Jarome Iginla hit him into the boards. He would play 37 games that season. In the off-season, Souray requested a trade from the Oilers. The Oilers responded angrily and placed Souray on waivers. He went unclaimed and played the entire 2010-11 season in the AHL. They bought out the final year of his deal and a couple of solid seasons with Dallas and Anaheim after that.

Oilers Fans, who were clearly still rattled from Pronger’s trade demand, felt scorned again, this time by a local product who chose to play here in free agency. But, looking closely, there was always something odd about the whole situation. Souray never seemed to have any issue playing in Edmonton or with the fans or anything, the trade demand was an issue with management.

“It’s not a players thing. It’s not a fans thing or a city thing. It’s a management thing,” Souray said. “They’ve given up on me, and it’s a two-way street. I don’t talk to anyone (in management) and I don’t expect to when I check out of here. I don’t really need to talk to them. There isn’t anything to say.”

Souray calling out management made him a public enemy in Edmonton. What fans saw on the surface was a player who recklessly injured themselves in a fight running their mouth out of bitterness. We never actually got a clear view of what was going on behind the scenes.

Today, in response to John Shannon tweeting about Daryl Katz’s health, Souray opened up about his personal experience dealing with an injury while with the Oilers. According to Souray, he suffered a hand injury in a fight and, after surgery, it got infected. He said the infection was so bad he nearly had to have his hand amputated and he spent 12 months with an IV bag to keep the infection from spreading to his heart. While all this was going on, Souray said he had heard Oilers management thought Souray was milking the injury to get out of having to play. Interesting how he tweeted he heard that, but didn’t mention if he asked them if they felt that way.

That’s a hell of a story. While our immediate reaction back then was to be angry at Souray for asking for a trade and bad-mouthing the organization, it always seemed fishy that things went down the way that they did. Now that this story is out in the open,(his version at least) you can see why he was so sour.

Shayne Corson Jersey

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Durant sa carrière de 19 ans dans la Ligue nationale de hockey (LNH), l’ancien attaquant du Canadien de Montréal Shayne Corson a affronté une multitude de joueurs redoutables et peu commodes, mais des rivaux beaucoup plus dangereux le guettaient ailleurs.

L’homme de 53 ans a tenu à livrer un message d’espoir au cours d’une entrevue diffusée mardi par le site The Athletic. L’auteur de 693 points en 1156 rencontres du calendrier régulier de la LNH a éprouvé des problèmes de santé mentale pendant la seconde moitié des années 1990 et au début des années 2000, étant aux prises avec une dépression caractérisée par des crises de panique.

Le décès prématuré de son père Paul en 1993, à l’âge de 45 ans, n’a pas aidé la cause. La suite n’a pas été des plus glorieuses pour le hockeyeur qui en a arraché sur la glace au cours de son deuxième séjour avec le Tricolore, de 1996 à 2000. Et durant son passage chez les Maple Leafs de Toronto, de 2000 à 2003, il a broyé du noir d’une toute autre manière. Longtemps, il pensait mourir jeune, une peur qui est apparue à la suite du départ de son père, mort du cancer de l’oesophage.

«Une fois, je n’ai pas dormi pendant 12 nuits. Je craignais trop d’aller au lit, car je croyais ne jamais me réveiller, a-t-il mentionné, affirmant aussi que sa première attaque de panique sérieuse était survenue à l’été 2000. J’assumais ma médicamentation avec de l’Ativan et de l’alcool. [...] C’était un cercle vicieux. Je tournais en rond et ça ne faisait qu’empirer.»

Malgré l’aide de sa famille et de ses proches, dont son beau-frère Darcy Tucker, le patineur nageait en eaux troubles et peinait à s’en sortir. En 2002-2003, il a souffert d’une poussée de colite ulcéreuse, un problème pour lequel il avait reçu un diagnostic à l’âge de 15 ans. Corson a ainsi perdu 25 lb et au plan psychologique, sa chute fut davantage vertigineuse.

«J’étais dans un trou noir et j’allais y rester. C’était la dépression totale, l’anxiété tout au long de la journée, quotidiennement, a-t-il déclaré, tout en admettant avoir eu des pensées suicidaires. À ce stade-là, ça n’allait pas se terminer de la bonne façon sans aide.»

Absence critiquée

Au milieu d’une série de premier tour face aux Flyers de Philadelphie en 2003, Corson avait décidé de s’éloigner de son équipe et il avait eu droit à une pluie de critiques, certains croyant qu’il était insatisfait de son temps de jeu.

«Ça m’a fait mal plus qu’autre chose. La semaine ayant suivi, cela a rendu ma maladie encore plus difficile à tolérer, car je n’abandonne jamais, comme ce fut le cas toute ma vie, a-t-il émis. Les gens connaissant bien la santé mentale savent que parfois, il faut prendre du recul et obtenir l’aide requise. Vous ne pouvez pas vous concentrer sur rien, sauf vous-même.»

«Je ne pouvais pas jouer et traverser ça sans soutien. J’en avais besoin pour m’en sortir. Aujourd’hui, je suis encore ici et je peux en parler pour aider les gens.»

Appuyé par des professionnels compétents, Corson a repris goût à la vie. Depuis sa retraite annoncée il y a une quinzaine d’années, il profite des bienfaits des traitements auxquels il a droit. Même si ses démons se manifestent occasionnellement, il comprend beaucoup mieux la situation et sait comment demeurer en contrôle. Et le hockey a également eu son mot à dire dans sa progression, puisqu’il participe à divers événements pour des œuvres de charité, incluant un tournoi visant à soutenir les personnes sans domicile fixe.

«Je dois recueillir de l’argent pour une cause à laquelle je crois et cela me permet de jouer, tout en côtoyant des hockeyeurs, a-t-il expliqué. Pour moi, c’est une thérapie.»

Pat Conacher Jersey

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After six seasons serving as the Utica Comets’ Director of Hockey Operations, Pat Conacher has a new role.

Conacher has moved to an amateur scouting position with the Vancouver Canucks, the Comets’ affiliate announced Wednesday as part of a slew changes to the team’s hockey operations staff. It is unclear what the move means for the Comets.

The 60-year-old Conacher — whose extensive experience includes playing parts of three seasons with the Utica Devils in addition to a number of coaching and scouting stints at various levels — joined the Comets ahead of the team’s first season in 2013-14 and was an essential part of the organization working behind the scenes.

In his role with the Comets, Conacher helped evaluate players for Vancouver and was instrumental in scouting other leagues in an effort to target players to bring in to Utica when call-ups or injuries affected the roster. That was especially the case the last few seasons as a number of players were needed to help patch together a roster when the team was decimated by injuries. The Comets had more than 50 players appear in a game in each of the last two seasons, with a handful of those being on a tryout basis.

Ryan Johnson, who has been Comets general manager since summer 2017, as well Utica coach Trent Cull and players have praised Coacher’s work in assisting the team.

There was no announcement Wednesday on a possible replacement for the Comets’ director of hockey operations role. Neither Johnson nor Comets president Rob Esche could be reached for comment Wednesday.

As part of the Canucks’ staff changes Wednesday, the team also announced Chris Higgins – the NHL veteran who had a 22-game with the Comets in his final pro season in 2015-16 – is re-joining Vancouver as assistant director of player development. Higgins’ role involves supporting Johnson, who also serves as senior director of player development, as well as evaluating players. It is unclear how much time the 36-year-old Higgins – who is originally from Long Island – will spend in Utica.

The Canucks also announced Dan Cloutier resigned as goaltending coach and director of goaltending after eight seasons. A replacement for Cloutier – who made visits to Utica in the past – was not announced.

Curtis Sanford has served as goaltending consultant for the Comets the last two seasons.

Other changes include: former Abbotsford Heat coach Troy Ward joining the Canucks as an amateur scout along with Phil Golding and Martin Bakula. Todd Harvey and Derek Richard are taking “additional responsibilities” as scouts. Patrik Jonsson, Vincent Montalbano, and Brandon Benning are “taking on new assignments,” according to the Canucks.

Canucks training camp set

The Canucks announced the roster for training camp, which includes almost every player signed to an American Hockey League contract for this season.

Twelve of the 13 players signed to AHL deals with the Comets are expected to be part of training camp, which is Thursday through Monday in British Columbia. The first on-ice sessions are Friday.

Seamus Malone, who suffered an upper-body injury at the end of last season during a short stint with the Comets, was not included. There was no reason provided.

Nearly all of the players on AHL deals were at Canucks camp last season.

Among the 64-man camp roster is Richard Bachman, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last December with the Comets.

The camp also includes two players on tryouts in veteran forward Landon Ferraro and defenseman William Warm, who will try to earn contracts with the organization. Ferraro, who had an injury-riddled 2018-19 season, was named the AHL’s Man of the Year in April. He’s considered an veteran under AHL rules.

The camp also provides an opportunity for younger players on NHL contracts like forwards Zack MacEwen, Kole Lind, goalie Michael DiPietro and defenseman Olli Juolevi (returning from knee surgery) to make an impression.

The Comets are expected to begin camp in Utica the last week of September.

Kevin McClelland Jersey

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The last time the Edmonton Oilers claimed a division championship Wayne Gretzky won the NHL scoring championship with 183 points and Kevin McClelland and Steve Smith combined for 403 penalty minutes.

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid and his teammates expect more moments like this in 2017-18.
It was 1987. Ronald Reagan was president, gas cost 89 cents a gallon and a new Ford Escort could be purchased for $6,895.

Last season, Connor McDavid, 20, was the only NHL player to reach 100 points, and he’s the primary reason the Oilers could win their first division crown in 30 years.

USA TODAY Sports is projecting that all four divisions will have new champions this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Metropolitan, the Tampa Bay Lightning will finish first in the Atlantic and the Nashville Predators will capture the Central.

The Lightning are one of last season’s non-playoff teams that we believe will qualify this season. The others: the Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings. We also have the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes on the periphery of the postseason.

Here is a quick overview of the division races:

Atlantic Division
It’s still a mystery that the Tampa Bay Lightning missed the playoffs last season, but they have the look of a contender this season. They added Dan Girardi and prospect Mikhail Sergachev to a defense that includes stars Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. They also picked up Chris Kunitz. … The Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, are a team built for the playoff grind. They are a plucky bunch who believe they can will their way to victory. Defenseman Erik Karlsson’s recovery from surgery could hamper their start, but this is an impressive group. … You have to go back to the 1960s to find a Toronto Maple Leafs team that generated this much excitement. Auston Matthews can do as much for the Leafs as McDavid is doing for the Oilers. … GM Don Sweeney hasn’t received enough credit for the job he’s done keeping the Boston Bruins competitive. Keep an eye on young defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Zdeno Chara is still a factor at 40. … The Montreal Canadiens are the X factor in the Atlantic. Goalie Carey Price always gives them a shot to contend, but their defense doesn’t seem strong enough. … The Buffalo Sabres will take a step forward, although it still might leave them short of the playoffs. New GM Jason Botterill has upgraded their defense. … The Florida Panthers lost their way last season, and it might take them another season to get back where they were. … The Detroit Red Wings have talented youngsters such as Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin, but not enough to re-energize the roster.

Metropolitan Division
The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals might take a half-step backward, and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets will play at the same level as last season. … The Capitals’ depth was eroded by salary cap issues. … Can free agent signee Kevin Shattenkirk put a charge into the Rangers? … … Artemi Panarin gives the Blue Jackets the dynamic scorer they were lacking. I guess we will find out how much he was helped by Patrick Kane in Chicago. … There’s a buzz about the Carolina Hurricanes’ improvement. They added Scott Darling in goal and Justin Williams and Marcus Kruger up front. … How much will John Tavares’ pending free agency distract the New York Islanders? Players will say not at all, but history has taught us otherwise. … The Philadelphia Flyers seem similar to last season, and their hope for improvement rests on the play of new goalie Brian Elliott and the continued improvement of younger, talented defensemen. … GM Ray Shero is making an impact with the New Jersey Devils, but he still needs time.

Central Division
The Nashville Predators are a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup. They have one of the NHL’s top defenses, and goalie Pekka Rinne showed in last spring’s playoffs that he can carry a team for two months. … The Minnesota Wild have the talent to be a postseason force. The question is whether they have the mental toughness to get the job done. … The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off a 109-point season, but they might not reach 100 points this season. Their defense is more suspect than it has been in years. … No team did more to improve in the offseason than the Dallas Stars. They added goalie Ben Bishop, defenseman Marc Methot, center Martin Hanzal and winger Alexander Radulov. … The St. Louis Blues have already suffered multiple injuries, including to Robby Fabbri, Jay Bouwmeester and Alexander Steen. … If the Winnipeg Jets’ goaltending is sharp, they will be in the playoff hunt. … They have plenty of scoring. The Colorado Avalanche will be 20 points better and still not be close to the playoffs.

Pacific Division
The key for the Edmonton Oilers will be the play of their defense. Can Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse take another step in their development? … Injuries to Ryan Kesler, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm could slow the Anaheim Ducks early, but they will be a contender in the end. … The Calgary Flames defense, led by Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, is among the league’s best. If Mike Smith excels in net, the Flames have a shot at 100 points. … With Jonathan Quick in net, the Los Angeles Kings are always a threat to be a playoff factor. … With the additions of Niklas Hjalmarsson, Derek Stepan, Jason Demers and rookies Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller, the Arizona Coyotes are much improved. … The San Jose Sharks are a talented squad, led by Brent Burns, but they have a hint of staleness. … There could be modest improvement from the Vancouver Canucks. Keep an eye on rookie Brock Boeser. … The Vegas Golden Knights could be better than we think, but they will make trades that will help their future and hurt their point total this season.

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Sergei Zubov looked at hockey through a different visor.

Take a team-building exercise the Dallas Stars were assigned in the wilds of Vail, Colo. They were split into small groups, told to bind three of their sticks together into a triangle and carry it together through a difficult obstacle course in the woods.

Zubov, who was appointed squad leader, told his men to tape the sticks with the blades jutting out, making the contraption easier to grip, throw and relay while running. They easily won the competition and, when other players protested, Zubov pointed to the perfect inner triangle of his creation.

Perhaps those wondering about the quiet defenceman’s Hockey Hall of Fame inclusion should take a different look at his accomplishments, too.

Zubov ticks some crucial boxes: Two Stanley Cups, 1,068 games and Olympic gold with the 1992 Unified Team. A lot of his NHL contributions came in the shadow of those who couldn’t help being in the spotlight: Mark Messier, Brian Leetch and Mike Keenan in New York in 1994; and Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Ken Hitchcock in Dallas in 1999.

Zubov did not play in a prime-time TV zone as contemporaries Leetch, Scott Stevens, Ray Bourque, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Chelios, all Norris Trophy winners. But he had strong influences on the two championship teams he played on, leading the Rangers in regular season points to set the stage for their first Cup in 54 years.

“I had a chance to play with great guys — Messier, Leetch, but most importantly it was my partner back then, Kevin Lowe. That influenced a lot into my game.”

He was the only Ranger other than Messier to average a point a game, as researched by author Nathaniel Oliver of The Hockey Writers, with two assists in the Game 7 win over Vancouver.

“I’ve played against great players in the NHL, but Zubov was one of those guys that you didn’t want to see on the ice,” said fellow Hall inductee Guy Carbonneau. “(Later, as Zubov’s Dallas teammate) he could always find you somewhere, was a great passer that could control the puck. When you have guys like Hull and Modano, he was always a threat on the ice on the power play and offensively.”

Rather than bolt with so many Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late ’80s, Zubov finished his military service with Red Army, played on its star-laden team and embraced the disciplined life and detailed practices others disliked. Selected by the Rangers in 1990, long after a glamour first round that included Jaromir Jagr, Owen Nolan, Martin Brodeur and Keith Tkachuk, Zubov didn’t play a full season in New York until 1993-94. But what a year it was — 77 assists, more than Norris winner Bourque.

With Dallas, in the days of the dead puck, Zubov became more of a field marshal, no less an important role as the old North Stars franchise won its first title and nearly a second in 2000. Zubov was described as the chess piece that controlled the game; calm under fire, solid positionally, knowing when to hold the puck or an opponent just enough to find daylight on an outlet pass.

The Stars’ management and public-relations department did a lot of drum-beating to get Zubov a Norris or other award, but he wasn’t comfortable with that part of celebrity. He was also very conscious about English not being his first language in TV interviews, which limited his media exposure.

Yet, Hitchcock, assistant coach Rick Wilson and general manager Bob Gainey had the utmost respect for Zubov, giving him a long leash on the ice.

“Wilson probably was the one that spent most of the time with me, taught me a lot and changed my game,” Zubov said.

Where the colourful Hull could get kicked off the ice for fooling around in practice, the staff let Zubov and Modano play an elongated game of trying to catch bad passes a foot off the ice or controlling long lobs. Many considered the flashy centre from Michigan and the reserved Muscovite to be on identical wavelengths.

Zubov lasted until 2009 with the Stars and a year in the KHL before retiring. The Hall call last June caught him off guard.

“It’s truly special. It’s kind of that you realize you’ve done something in your life that you can be proud of and never look back.”

Though he was on a waiting list, Zubov gets in ahead of a couple of Russians who have been talked about a lot longer, namely Alexander Mogilny.

“There are many different guys, many different players, who deserve to be here,” Zubov said diplomatically. “I’m just glad that it happened with my phone number.”

THE FILE ON SERGEI ZUBOV

Age: 49

Born: Moscow

Position: Defence

The skinny: NHL’s second-leading scorer among Russian defencemen to Sergei Gonchar … Plus-20 or better in five of his 16 NHL seasons … Won Olympic gold with the Unified Team in 1992 … Played final 12 years for the Stars, second-team NHL all-star in 2006 with Zdeno Chara … Had 112 playoff points in 164 games with Stars, Rangers and Penguins … Coached Sochi in the KHL up to this season.

SERGEI SAYS: “It was tough at first, especially no (Russian-speaking people) that are usually around you. But hockey is that kind of game, when you put everything aside and it just takes you all in.”