Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss was confirmed dead Saturday.
The 20-year-old had been missing in his home country of Latvia. Early reports indicated that he had drowned after diving into the Daugava River and officials confirmed finding his body. "The'Edmonton Oilers'are deeply saddened by the loss of'Kristians Pelss, a young man who played in our organization," the team said in a statement. "Kristians had gone missing earlier in the week after returning home to Riga, Latvia, for the offseason. Exact details in regards to what led to this tragedy remain unclear. He was just 20 years old." Pelss was a seventh-round pick in the 2010 draft who had eight points for the Oilers' AHL affiliate.
The Edmonton Oilers have released a statement on missing prospect Kristians Pelss.
There were reports that Pelss, 20, had drowned in Latvia, but those reports are unconfirmed. "The Edmonton Oilers organization, including the Edmonton Oil Kings, Oklahoma City Barons and affiliate Stockton Thunder, is aware of the reports regarding Kristians Pelss going missing while visiting Riga, Latvia, this week," the Oilers said in their statement. "There has been contradictory information reported, at times, and we are trying to confirm the facts. Once we are able to do that, we will be able to offer further comment. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the Pelss family. Kristians spent two years with the Oil Kings before beginning his pro career in the Oilers system, splitting last season between the Barons and the Thunder."
Kristians Pelss has reportedly drowned back home in Latvia, but there have been some conflicting reports regarding the situation.
The 20-year-old Oilers prospect, who played this past season in AHL Oklahoma City and Stockton of the ECHL, is believed to have leaped to his death Tuesday from a bridge in Riga. Latvian Hockey Federation spokesman Maris Gorbunov said he couldn't confirm or deny reports and a state police spokesman couldn't comment until the search is completed and the missing person is found. We'll keep you posted on this tragic story once more information is known.
Ever since Dallas Eakins became the Edmonton Oilers' new coach, he's run into a Twitter-related problem.
"The phone buzzes every time somebody follows me on Twitter and I don't know how to turn it off," Eakins said. That's a lot of noise given that he's increased his Twitter followers by more than 10,000 to 27,513 at the time of writing. He originally thought it was stupid, but now he loves Twitter. "It's a great way to get your message out there to fans," he said. "It's a good place to pass out some praise for a player."
When new Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins starts training camp in the fall, prospect Teemu Hartikainen may not be on the ice.
According to Craig Custance of ESPN The Magazine, Hartikainen is headed to Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League. Hartikainen, who is slated to become a restricted free agent next month, had one goal and two assists for three points in 23 games with the Oilers this season. He was drafted by the Oilers in the sixth round (163rd overall) in 2008.
Taylor Hall wants to be more of a leader next season.
With some veterans such as Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky potentially on their way out, Hall is ready to start being more of a guy who's looked up to in the locker room. "Whether they're here or not, I'm still looking forward to being more of a leader next year and maturing as a player and a person," Hall said. "I'm still pretty young and regardless of who's here, I look forward to becoming an even better player, a more rounded player and a more rounded person. I think all of us young guys relish at being better at leading teams, being better in the last five minutes and doing those things that leaders do." Just 21, Hall already has 65 goals and 80 assists in three seasons.
The status of Edmonton Oilers assistants Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith is uncertain after the hiring of Dallas Eakins as head coach.
Buchberger has survived four coaching regimes prior to the Eakins hiring while Smith joined the team's staff in 2010. Both players are former Oilers and famed members of the "old boys club" that always seems to outlast any outsider hired by the organization. GM Craig MacTavish, a club member himself, said Eakins would get to pick his assistants but said he hoped Buchberger and Smith stay.