There’s still over a month until the Edmonton Oilers’ first game in the 2013-2014 season, which will take place on October 1. As we get closer to the start of the regular season, however, there’s a lot more going on. There was a flurry of activity in Edmonton during the free trade frenzy, but things have remained relatively quiet since then. Now, everyone is intensifying their training and a lot of players are off to camps to potentially represent their country in international events. We’ll take a look at some of the things going on in the pre-season that Oilers fans might be interested in.
The World Junior Championships are a fan favorite, in large parts due to the younger age bracket. Every single player comes out of the gate with 200%. Even if they’re perhaps not as polished yet as the players in the NHL, they are tornadoes of energy that are completely addictive to watch. Additionally, it’s a great opportunity for young players and a strong showing at the World Juniors can definitely have an impact on how they’re viewed in the future. Darnell Nurse, who the Oilers selected in the first round in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, will join a multitude of players in Lake Placid, New York, at Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp. And not to get all ‘go Canada’ on you, but incidentally, Canada does happen to lead the all-time gold medal count at the Juniors with 15 under their belt… make of that what you will. The 2014 World Junior Championship will take place from December 26 to January 5 in Malmö, Sweden.
Splitting the province in the Battle of Alberta:
Ah, the rivalry, the reoccurring battle of Alberta: the Edmonton Oilers vs. the Calgary Flames. Every time these two teams meet, the stakes are a little bit higher for fans on both sides. It’s a pride thing – both teams want to be the one that dominates the province. On September 14, the Oilers will face the Flames in the pre-season. In the 2012-2013 regular season, the teams had an equal record against each other, with both teams winning twice in their four match-ups. This statistic is mirrored in the pre-season battle of Alberta, as interestingly, the games will be played in a split-squad manner. No team is travelling in its entirety to the other city. Instead, each team will send half its players to their rival’s city, and keep half its players at home.
Oklahoma, home to the Oilers’ AHL team the Oklahoma City Barons, will see the Oilers go up against the Dallas Stars on September 27 in Edmonton’s last pre-season game. It will be the Oilers’ last showcase before the start of the regular season, and though they’re not on home turf, the fact that the Barons are their AHL-affiliate will likely garner a lot of fan support for Edmonton.
Finally, many of the NHL’s top players are off to represent their country at the Olympics – including some of the Oilers. Young Nail Yakupov is off to Russia, new draft Jesse Joensuu and Teemu Hartikainen (who has bounced between the Oilers and the Barons) will be in Finland, and Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will be checking out the camp for their native Canada.