Edmonton Oilers: On to Penticton for Rookie Tournament


It finally came. The hockey season is back. (Albeit a Rookie tournament in early September.)

Headlining the Edmonton Oilers rookie showcase will be highly touted first overall pick and alleged “savior” to the franchise Connor McDavid. After some strength and conditioning testing in Edmonton McDavid and company have flown out to Penticton, BC to take part in the annual young stars tournament with the prospect pools from the Canucks, Jets and Flames organizations.

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Expectations must be tempered largely due to the fact that the level of skill throughout this tournament is only marginally better than the level of action in the major junior leagues. I say this because several camp invites are players that have been passed over in the NHL entry draft and have played some professional hockey. However, this is a tremendous opportunity for these young players to showcase the level of compete, skill and conditioning in hopes of obtaining a pro level contract. Part of the Tournament in Penticton is giving the group of rookies and prospects the chance to leave their calling card for their respective clubs and to get noticed.

Historically, highly skilled players like Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid have not traditionally played every single game but rather they are given a taste of sub-NHL caliber games to adjust to the pro level. McDavid is likely going to make the starting line of the Oilers club and Draisaitl has already played nearly a half season in the NHL. Therefore, don’t be surprised if in a few games they are played often and then other opportunities are given elsewhere.

While it does showcase the talents and skill of some young draft picks there are also a list of undrafted rookies being invited along for the ride. Listed below is the Roster the Oilers have assembled and brought to the tournament as well as a quick side note about each prospect.

Defenceman (8):

Oct 1, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (74) against the Arizona Coyotes in the third period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

  • Darnell Nurse – Stud defense prospect turning pro this year, could make Oilers this year
  • Kevin Davis – Everett Silvertips (WHL) Camp invite, went undrafted
  • Ethan Bear – 5th Round pick from this past year, potential gem as a prospect. Huge shot.
  • Colton Waltz – Brandon Wheatkings (WHL), Assistant Captain, 20 yr. old solid blue-liner looking for contract
  • Ben Betker – 6th Rounder from  2013. Everett Silvertips (WHL), large size and tough defensive defenceman, turning pro this year.
  • Joey Laleggia – 5th Rounder from 2012. Finished decorated College career at University of Denver. Turning Pro.
  • Loik Leveille – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL), offensively minded undrafted rookie defenceman

Forwards (15)

Dec 31, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) skates against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won in overtime 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

  • Leon Draisaitl – Played in the NHL last year for 37 games before leading Kelowna Rockets to Memorial Cup, named Mem. Cup MVP.
  • Josh Winquist – Earned an AHL level deal with Oilers farm club, spent time with ECHL last season too.
  • Anton Slepyshev – a skilled offensive forward coming over from the KHL. Captained Russian World Juniors in 2014
  • Alexis Loiseau – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL). Captain team to Memorial Cup, signed minor league deal with the Condors. Offensively gifted earning 127 points in final year of Junior.
  • Marc-Olivier Roy – 2nd Rounder from 2013 draft. Only recently signed, above average skating ability.
  • Cole Linaker – 6’2″ Center from Kelowna Rockets (WHL), centered a checking line and has hearing loss in right ear. Undrafted.
  • Rihard Bukarts – Brandon Wheatkings (WHL) Latvian skater with deceptive speed, good offensive production in the ‘dub.
  • Connor Rankin – over aged player from Calgary Hitmen (WHL) that signed an AHL level deal with Bakersfield. Had 32 goals this past campaign in Junior.
  • Mitch Moroz – 2nd Round pick from 2012. Played first pro season last year in Oklahoma City, big size and grit with a decent set of hands.
  • Cole Sanford – Undrafted, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL), undersized (5’9″ in the morning) but was an offensive stud this past season, tallying 95 points in 72 games.
  • Braden Christoffer – Regina Pats (WHL). Homegrown boy from Sherwood Park, AB. Looking to make the jump to the Pro level. Undrafted.
  • Tyler Soy – Undrafted, Victoria Royals (WHL). Ranked 87th by International Scouting but fell out of the draft. Decent two-way center that went +22 for +/- in the playoffs this past spring for Victoria.
  • Greg Chase – 7th Rounder in 2013, Victoria Royals (WHL). Skilled two-way center that can play the “pest” in games. One of my favorites to watch in the WHL last season.
  • Connor McDavid – 1st Overall in 2015. Outstanding offensive player with tremendous hockey instincts and deceptively fast skating ability. Overall talent is of biblical proportions.

Goaltenders (3)

  • Jordan Papirny – Brandon Wheatkings (WHL) One of the more dominant WHL goaltenders this past season.
  • Eetu Laurikainen – Spent last season with the Blues (SM-Liiga) before signing contract with Oilers. Solid back-stopper in the WHL when he played two seasons with Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
  • Keven Bouchard – 7th rounder from 2014. Val d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL). Struggled this past season in the “Q” but with another year under his belt, will likely return for overage season.

Oilers schedule:

September 11, 2015 – 8:30 pm    Vancouver vs. Edmonton

September 13, 2015 – 8:30 pm    Calgary vs. Edmonton

September 14, 2015 – 12:30 pm   Edmonton vs. Winnipeg

All games are available to stream on Sportsnet.ca.  We are also live tweeting these games on our twitter, @oilonwhyte.

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