With camps well underway, we have already seen what the Oilers might look like on the ice. In some ways, this new journey has already been immortalised through the traditional team photo day. Let’s take a look at the fresh faces, renewed by the optimism of a new season, the glow and the flow of our 2022–23 Oilers.
Noted cat daddy and newly engaged Jack Campbell has 25 million more reasons to smile. The weight of the starter’s job sees Soup don a serious face heading into the season. Either that or the photographer somehow caught the netminder somewhere between sunshine and butterflies. The slicked back look is strong here, but a bit more length might see Campbell in top form as the season progresses, which is really when it counts.
Truly a class of his own, Stuart Skinner would be contender for Lanny McDonald moustache of the year if the NHL could get their act together (read make up such a thing). The full beard was strong, but Stu has struck gold with this look. Would it be too much to ask for some sideburns? Either way, at the dawning of this new season, one that represents a huge opportunity for Skinner to assert himself as a full time NHLer, this photo represents getting off on the right foot. The smile is a great touch, not only to get the full extension of the ‘stache, but also the positive attitude required of a backup goalie. No doubt, the broth brothers are looking strong.
Perhaps Brett Kulak is channelling some of the energy that saw him so successful in last season’s playoffs by growing out the beard a bit more than we are used to. His brief glimpse as an Oiler saw him play the best hockey of his career, earning him a raise on his new deal with his hometown club. We’ll see a lot of this hairstyle, or close to it, with a bit of length and verticality up top. Kulak keeps it fairly simple, a classic look for the blueliner with a straightforward game.
It’s hard to imagine that at this time last season Evan Bouchard had not yet featured as a regular in the Oilers lineup. This year we can see the confidence smirked across his famously five o’clock shadowed face. The defender is effective beyond his years on the ice, reflected by his appearance in this regard. As much as Bouch is famous for his “bombs” from the point, he has also shown viability as a penalty killer and a defender overall. The clean cut look shows that Bouchard is about business, although time will tell how his look evolves over time. There is great potential for facial hair stylings (a moustache?) just as Bouchard is just scratching the surface of his potential as an elite defenceman.
Smiles aren’t exactly the norm for these photos, but Darnell Nurse does well showing off the pearly whites here. He’s well suited for the bald plus beard combo. It’s a strong and reliable look for Nurse, who brings an equally consistent quality to his work on the ice and as one of the foremost leaders of the locker room. Sure, some might be preoccupied with how much money he should or might be making, but the truth is Nurse is an elite player and a pillar of the Oilers’ success.
The star of the show, Connor McDavid. Fully in his prime, McDavid is often pushing the limits of what is possible on the ice, yet this look gives us a glimpse into the truth: that the wizardous manoeuvring and highlights flow from a place of commitment, routine, and training. Yes, it’s simple, perhaps a bit plain, but sticking to himself is exactly what has brought the captain this far. That isn’t to say that McDavid has become complacent, quite the contrary in fact. As his defensive prowess and physicality are areas that might have been considered lacking, all those areas have seen McDavid take strides. This, hopefully, shows the humility of a captain, one that can be focused towards self improvement. It’s the details that make the difference and McDavid would do well to continue down that path considering the enormous spotlight bound to his skill.
Smouldering? We know what to expect from Leon Draisaitl on and off the ice, and it appears like another strong vintage for the dual threat. The beard is a bit longer than we are used to, perhaps a callback to a deeper playoff run? Either way the beard is lined up, the hair is at its voluminous and angular best, as the MVP makes a habit of showing up strong when the lights are bright and the cameras are rolling.
Here we see Jesse Puljujarvi unfazed by the haters. Another offseason of trade rumours and tentative front office negotiations could not dim the famously large and expressive smile. Don’t let the sunny disposition and waved coif fool you, Puljujarvi brings the heat and plays for keeps on the forecheck.
Dylan Holloway embarks on his rookie season, all but guaranteed to see games this season if not right out of training camp. The slightly longer flow is well kept on the sides, a youthful cut to match the early stages of a workable facial hair situation. The strong eyebrows can’t hurt his cause. In his eyes we can feel the determination, as Holloway has had his game face on, eager to prove himself as an NHLer.
There’s a lot to like here with Kailer Yamamoto. The medium length hair does lend itself to a player who is quite comfortable in his role. Yamamoto isn’t afraid when things get a bit messy, with the flow or in the corners. We’ll have to keep an eye out for the goatee as we’ve seen it around this length before. There is a quiet intensity about his face, as if he knows his opponent is not ready to handle his work ethic that endears the winger to fans, coaches, and management alike.
Zach Hyman is clean cut as they come, but he comes by it honestly. It’s this honest, hardy, straightforwardness that brings Hyman success on the ice. Whether working on adding more skilled dekes to his toolbox or another book to his resume as a children’s author, Hyman is as true a pro as his look suggests. Each year, it seems, Hyman ups his level, an almost paradoxical consistency of improvement.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might be facing vampirism allegations soon, as his game has been as consistent as his look over the first decade of his career. He could definitely be an interesting Movember candidate. My advice? Get a head start! Even if the Nuge finds himself on “the third line” he will still factor into a key role as a member of both special teams.
Ryan McLeod is coming into his own on and off the ice. He’s most definitely part of the clean cut crew that showed up in numbers this photo day, but McLeod wears it well. The hair is a strong point, though his helmet will cover it. By the end of the season McLeod could be sitting pretty, literally and figuratively, should his game and flow continue to grow, so too will his dough.
Welcome to “the A list”, kid. After some time for the Oilers last season, Philip Broberg looks to be an every day NHLer this season. The young Swede plays it cool here, some poise despite his youth. He is not just happy to be here, Broberg is looking ready to prove himself. This is a strong horizon for Broberg, there’s a lot to work with here, and we’ll have to wait and see how he distinguishes himself in the years ahead.
Mattias Janmark has got some decent volume on the hair flip here. Speaking of volume, in volumes, that neck! It really shows the strength it takes to work the hard areas of the ice, as Janmark does.
Evander Kane shows off a well maintained look here. The hair, the beard, the teeth, all in top form as the winger enters the first year of his extension with the Oilers.
Unlike the players, the coaches get to show a bit of their personal style in choosing a suit for photo day. We get some sense of Woodcroft’s detail oriented mannerisms, the neck and shoulders well tailored, the slight patterns on the otherwise all black jacket and tie combination. It’s really the subtleties that make the difference here. Are those eyes of hazel?
Glen Gulutzan puts forth a strong showing here. The hair looking better than even players around the league, with a proper take on a popular cut. There’s some character in the matching crooked smile and crooked tie. The tie goes with a bronze and light blue colour combination that might be worth investigating for an Oilers’ future alternate uniform.
Dave Manson fills out the entire width of the photo with broad shoulders. Equally large is his presence coaching the Oilers defence as the group was much improved after the coaching change of last season. The tie is a bit off the beaten path, a picnic plaid pattern in Oilers colours. Bonus points for the tortoise shell glasses.
Matvei Petrov, Tyler Tullio, and Xavier Bourgault all sport a similar facial hair style, perhaps a sign of a CHL trend. It’s great to see the confidence, all three going after it at an early age, while the AHL bound Tullio and Bourgault have the early stages of some great hair. Tullio sports some dreamy curls reminiscent of a pop star of sorts, while Bourgault would do great with a bit more length on the slicked back look.
Some classic long hair styles showed well in camp. Jake Chiasson and Darien Kielb aren’t likely to have any bearing on the Oilers on ice performance this season, yet the way they pull off their looks might inspire some of their teammates to let it flow as well. Leading the charge in this category might be Raphael Lavoie, who is really putting his best foot forward in what will be a critical year for his long term outlook.
Role players, sandpaper, mean mugs
Vincent Desharnais is fully embracing the bouncer look here and he’ll be busy protecting the confines of the Bakersfield Condors from unwanted and unruly guests. Luke Esposito is another player likely to spend the year with Bakersfield, but he has embraced his truths, from a strong effort in his role as a penalty killer, to a big smile to show off the missing tooth.
Their respective aesthetic understudies are NHL hopefuls Dmitri Samorukov and James Hamblin. Samorukov looks every bit as rough and tumble as Desharnais, while Hamblin sports a similar grin to Esposito. If either are to make the Oilers this season it will be thanks to their willingness and ability to perform these types of roles, the dirty work so to speak.
Hamblin definitely has a great look here, the longer hair and moustache are reminiscent of Starsky and Hutch. Could this inspire a Halloween costume, a pre game outfit, or even a team wide pre game theme that we’ve seen across the league more recently (disco night would be groovy)?
As we won’t get to every player or staff member it’s the perfect high note to end this list off!
Player photos from www.gettyimages.ca
Featured photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire