Oilers News & Rumors: Woodcroft, Gretzky, Puljujarvi, Lucic, More

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t been the loudest team when it comes to making changes in the NHL. That distinction goes to teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and their attempts to move Phil Kessel or the Toronto Maple Leafs and how they’ll manage to sign free agents like Mitch Marner. Still, the Oilers have been making changes, slowly but surely.

The organization has a new President of Hockey Operations and GM who is going through the management and coaching of the team, systematically building the most stable group he can, and assessing what he’s got to work with. There are those that are exiting the organization and others who are staying, and there are many questions still to be asked.

There’s enough change in Edmonton that it’s worth taking an overall look at what the team has done so far and might do in the future. Here are seven things you should know if you’re an Oilers fan as it relates to the franchise today:

Update 1: Jay Woodcroft Signs 3-Yr Extension

The Bakersfield Condors announced today that the Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with head coach Jay Woodcroft on a contract extension through the 2021-22 season.

Woodcroft was moved down to Bakersfield in the reshuffling of coaches that occurred with the Oilers last season and he took the Condors on a massive run of 17 consecutive wins. Holland came in, spoke with Woodcroft a couple of times and got the impression he’d like to stay. The Oilers inked a deal to keep him on Wednesday.

There was speculated interest from other teams so this is good news for the Oilers organization that they were able to keep such a qualified man to run the Condors from the bench.

Related: NHL Rumors: Penguins, Rangers, Oilers, More

Thing 2: Keith Gretzky To Stay Assistant GM

Ken Holland also announced that Keith Gretzky will remain with the team in the role of Assistant General Manager and will oversee the Condors, working mostly on the amateur side of things.

Gretzky will hold the title of Bakersfield Condors General Manager but maintained he will still have a lot to do with Oilers at the 2019 NHL Draft.

This is a job Gretzky is good at, Holland called important to the team’s future and something Gretzky is excited about. “It’s a great opportunity and I think Mac (Craig MacTavish) did a great job. I’m there to help Jay and his staff and build the team to success,” Gretzky told Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now.

Update 3: Jesse Puljujarvi Might Be Leaving

As we reported in our rumors notes today, the future of forward Jesse Puljujarvi remains a big question mark for the Edmonton Oilers. GM Ken Holland said of the player:

He’s still a good, young, talented player. I’m hoping that myself and Dave Tippett can provide some stability. I hope he wants to be an Oiler. When I get curveballs thrown at me, then I’ve gotta deal with the curveballs. What would the curveball be? If he doesn’t really wanna be an Oiler. I haven’t really dug that deep. I know it’s been a tough go for him.

source ‘Q&A with Ken Holland: On the draft, buyouts, free agency and how to have a successful offseason’ – The Athletic – Daniel Nugent-Bowman – 06/10/2019
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The question is, does he want to be an Oiler? The answer seems to be that he’s ready for a change.

That said, contrary to reports, Puljujarvi has not signed a contract with Jokerit (KHL). He is expected to re-sign with the Edmonton Oilers on a two-year deal. He remains open to a trade to another NHL club and the Oilers will try to make that happen if he indicates he’s not happy.

Related: NHL News & Notes: Flyers First-Round Pick, Oilers & More

Update 4: Lucic to Calgary or Vancouver?

There is still buzz surrounding Milan Lucic and a potential trade. The two leading options floating around are with Vancouver for Loui Eriksson or with Calgary for James Neal.

Milan Lucic, Edmonton Oilers
Known for his physical play, Milan Lucic is an offensive threat as well. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There’s no work on if the Flames have any interest but according to Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger, the Canucks are ‘interested’ in Lucic. Dave Tippett has some history with Loui Eriksson with Dallas and Jim Benning has wanted Lucic for some time. Speculation is that Edmonton would likely need to add in a sweetener.

Related: Canucks Should Not Trade for Lucic

Update 5: No Nurse Extension Anytime Soon

When it comes to Darnell Nurse, don’t expect the defenseman to get an extension offer anytime soon from the Oilers. Holland also said he’d like to wait as long as possible because he’s still not sure what he has in Nurse as a player.

Nurse has a contract for 2019-20 and Holland believes he has some really great defenders coming up the pipeline. He feels there’s no rush.

Related: Oilers Promote Bob Nicholson to Chairman

Update 6: Oilers Hire Tom Anselmi

The Edmonton Oilers have moved some people around in the high-end positions of the organization. They’ve hired Tom Anselmi as President of Business Operations & Chief Operating Officer and Bob Nicholson has moved over to Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club.

Anselmi formerly served as COO of the Ottawa Senators and prior to that, worked 17 years with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in Toronto.

Update 7: Oilers Sign Patrick Russell

The Oilers have signed forward Patrick Russell to a one-year contract extension.

Russell, 26, appeared in 51 games last season with the Bakersfield Condors, registering 40 points (18G, 22A), 32 penalty minutes and a +30 plus/minus rating, ranking second on the team. He also posted seven points (2G, 5A), in 10 playoff games.