Edmonton Oilers camp opens with hope for key additions to make an impact

The Edmonton Oilers opened training camp on Sunday, January 3 2021, with an optional skate at NAIT. Reid Wilkins/630 CHED

As training camp starts for the 2021 NHL season, two items that have long been on the Edmonton Oilers wish list appear to have been checked off.

Right shot power play quarterback? Tyson Barrie.

Third line centre who can provide secondary scoring? Kyle Turris.

Both were signed in the early stages of free agency in October. As the Oilers gathered for physicals and medicals to kick off training camp on Sunday, the moves were applauded by the team captain.

“They were able to add a bunch of good pieces. Good players, and good people as well,” Connor McDavid said. “Tyson comes in and runs the power play and adds his personality to the room. Turris has been in the league a long time, a veteran guy. His voice in the room will be good, too.”

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While Turris didn’t meet expectations in his last two seasons in Nashville, his half-a-point per game in 2019/20 would far exceed any recent third line production on the Oilers. He’s exceeded 50 points four times in his career.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure people are right, that I’m the guy who can fill that spot,” said Turris. “I like to think of myself as a strong, two-way player who’s solid and takes care of his defensive game, but offence is what I really enjoy. Being creative and helping with secondary scoring.”

“Turris is a very experienced guy. He’s been in some playoff runs,” added 2019/20 Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl.

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On the back end, the Oilers will have to deal with a big loss as Oscar Klefbom is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Klefbom was the point man on the Oilers league-best power play (29.5 per cent) last year. But with Barrie, the Oilers get a player who has 98 power play points over the last five seasons.

“I’ve watched him quite a bit. He’s a talented player. He has a real creative sense to him. I like the way he passes the puck,” Tippett said. “I have high expectations for him. He’ll give our power play a little different look with the right shot.”

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“They had a great power play last year,” Barrie said. “You don’t want to come in and try to change too much or anything at all. I’m going to come in and try to fit and listen to these guys and go over some film and see what was successful for them. I want to see how I can contribute and maybe add a little something to it. That’s a big aspect of my game, the power play, but also five-on-five, getting these guy the puck, jumping in the play, creating some chances, and being reliable defensively is a big part of my game I want to focus on.”

“Tyson has proven he’s an elite defenceman in this league for a long time. The amount of skills he brings are going to be much-needed for our team,” defenceman Adam Larsson said.

The Oilers held medical and physical testing on Sunday at NAIT. Some players hit the ice afterwards for an optional skate. The first practice of camp will be held on Monday.