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- Word is the Oilers were trying to get the man in the picture – Jonathan Toews – to sign an NHL minimum short-term contract to wrap up his career here in Edmonton in a reduced fourth-line role via Toew’s buddy Duncan Keith who now works for the Oilers in player development. However, Toews has struggled with long-term health problems due to a bout with covid while back, and the CAA agency (which I’m assuming is the agency of his player agent) didn’t include his name on a list of free agents from this agency, which essentially means Toews isn’t healthy enough to sign anywhere as a free agent with anyone. Probably just as well as I always found this rumour a bit strange – there’s a good chance Toews would’ve set himself up for embarrassment by failing the preliminary medical tests in training camp, so it’s better for his agency to save face for him by doing it now before he signs any deal. This has effectively ended Toew’s career, which is too bad because he showed last season with the Hawks that he still has some scoring chops – he went 15-16-31 in 53 games last season before his health knocked him out of the lineup mid-season (a career-low -31, but we can probably chalk that up to how lousy a team Chicago was last season). Too bad, Toews likely would’ve centred the Edmonton Oilers fourth line next season, with a good chance he’d be in between sophomore Dylan Holloway and rookie Raphael Lavoie on the starboard side, providing mentorship to those two and leadership to the team at large, teaching them how to win the Cup seeing as how he’s won three of them. But, it is not to be now. It’s always sad when health, rather than choice, ends a player’s career, doubly so when it’s of a player of Toew’s calibre. I think I’m not alone when I wish him well on whatever is next for Toews.
- Remember in 2021 when Wayne Gretzky stepped down as partner and vice chair of Oilers Entertainment Group working on the business side of things for the Edmonton Oilers alongside owner Daryl Katz and Kevin Lowe amongst a host of others? Well, it turns out he didn’t retire completely from hockey, he only semi-retired as he’s still on board with the Oilers as an advisor to the team. It sounds like it’s more of a volunteer thing as he’s working full-time as a media commentator which I would assume prevents him from working officially with an NHL team due to a conflict of interest. Hey, with his legacy in hockey and being 62 years old now, why not? He can do whatever he wants at his age, with his money, and his clout.
- Edmotnon Oilers defensive prospect Yanni Kaldis, who was signed as originally signed as a college free agent by Bakersfield, has signed a contract to play in the KHL next season for HC Dinamo Minsk. Kaldis played three seasons for the Condors but that contract was never converted to a two-way contract, although he certainly showed some promise as a player. If I had to guess Kaldis probably felt he had plateaued in the AHL and knowing he could make more money in the KHL and perhaps take the next step of his career there rather than risk becoming an AHL-only player, he chose to go to Minsk. Smart of him not to sign with a KHL Russian club – I don’t know if you’ve heard but there’s some stuff going down in Russia right now *wink**wink* and there’s a chance it could destabilize politically in the near future.
- It was recently revealed that Edmonton Oilers video coach Jeremy Coupal has parted ways with the organization. This will be a big loss to the coaching staff because Coupal was very good at his job. He had the same job in Nashville before coming to Edmonton so Mattias Ekholm had good things to say about him.
- Congratulations to Nate DiCasmirro for being named as an assistant coach for the Condors. DiCasmirro never made it to the NHL but played for a number of AHL teams before turning pro in Europe for 13 seasons, during which time he played in Italy, Finland, Austria, Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland. He replaced assistant coach Josh Green who has left the Condors to move up in the world as head coach and GM of the Winnipeg Freeze (MJHL). DiCasmirro did actually play two seasons for the Edmonton Oilers farm team, the two years when they were first the Toronto Roadrunners and then the Edmonton Roadrunners. He was previously in the same role with the Iowa Wild, the farm team of – you guessed it – the Minnesota Wild.