The Edmonton Oilers huddle before the start of their practice at Prospera Place in Kelowna on Monday. (Photo - Daniel Taylor)

Oilers McDavid, Draisaitl relish time in Okanagan

The Edmonton Oilers practiced at Prospera Place in Kelowan twice during team bonding trip

The Edmonton Oilers visited Kelowna over the weekend for a series of practices and team bonding activities.

The Oilers were on the ice for their second of two practices on Monday at Prospera Place before heading home to play the Arizona Coyotes in exhibition play on Tuesday.

Captain Connor McDavid stressed the importance of team bonding ahead of the season. The elite talent said spending time in Kelowna was essential to build chemistry with teammates off the ice.

“It’s really important,” said McDavid.

“Relationships in the dressing room are really important for the on-ice part of it. It was a good weekend and a good opportunity set up by the coaches and management for us to get to know each other pretty well.”

It was also a homecoming of sorts for Oilers Center Leon Draisaitl who played for the Rockets during the 2014-15 season. The 50-goal scorer played 37 games with the Oilers that year before returning to junior hockey where he was traded from the Prince Albert Raiders to Kelowna.

Draistaitl led the Rockets to a WHL championship and won the MVP of the Memorial Cup despite falling to the Oshawa Generals in the final.

After Tuesday’s practice, he reflected on his time in Kelowna as he stood in front of his painting on the Rockets Hall-of-fame wall in Prospera Place.

“They really took me in and they treated me really well here,” said Draisitl. “I just love being here and it’s great to be back.”

Draisaitl went on to talk about how important his time spent in Kelowna was for his development.

“I played half the year in the NHL and clearly wasn’t ready to make an impact every night,” said Draisaitl.

“For me at that point, it was best to get some confidence. Get to play on the powerplay, penalty kill. It really helped me and helped my development.”

Draistaitl registered 19 goals and 34 assists (54 points) in 32 games with Kelowna.

READ MORE: Lucky fan meets McDavid in Kelowna


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daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com

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