Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli has expectations for the upcoming season, but he’s not ready to make them public just yet.
“I’ll share them with you at some point,” he says. “We’re going to improve. We improved last year, believe it or not, and we’ll improve again this year.”
The Oilers are stuck in a ten-year playoff drought and finished second-last in the NHL last season, which was Chiarelli’s first on the job.
“It’s about avoiding long streaks and being able to work your way out of losing streaks,” Chiarelli says of staying in the playoff race. “As far as the mental discipline and minimizing those streaks, I think it’s important. It’s about having the proper attitude, and we’ll work on that this year.”
Chiarelli made a major move in the summer, trading winger Taylor Hall to New Jersey for defenceman Adam Larsson. Blueliner Oscar Klefbom is healthy after missing the final 52 games last season. Klefbom and Larsson are projected to the be Oilers top pairing.
“I think those two players will contribute greatly as to breaking the puck out and to defending,” explains Chiarelli. “I expect our group to improve as a whole, and really firstly by adding those two guys.”
Winger Nail Yakupov says he didn’t pay too much attention to rumours that he might be traded over the summer.
“Summer is that kind of time. At the same time, you don’t want to hear about hockey,” says Yakupov. “You hear some thoughts and rumours you might get traded. I just try to take my break and enjoy my time back home.”
Yakupov was asked what he had to do to get more ice time this season.
“I don’t really want to talk about it. I just have to work. It was a really good first day,” he says. “As a player, all I have to do is listen and do the right things.”
“He’s a tremendous player. He has an incredible skill set. He has a great shot. It’s putting it all together and being productive,” says head coach Todd McLellan. “He’ll do that. We’ll help him.”
Training camp continues on Saturday at Rogers Place. There will be scrimmages both Saturday and Sunday. (jrw)