New junior Oilers teams to give youth more chances to develop their hockey skills

The Edmonton Oilers and Hockey Edmonton are partnering to offer a new elite hockey player development program to give local youth more opportunities to make it to the big leagues.

Starting in the 2022-23 season, Hockey Edmonton's two male U18 AAA teams will be named the Edmonton Junior Oilers and work as a pinnacle talent stream program to prepare players for potential play in the NHL, AHL, WHL, AJHL, or post-secondary teams.

Forty players will be selected to join the program administered by Hockey Edmonton's development committee. The Oilers will provide access to resources like equipment, apparel, player and coach development, and facility support.

According to Hockey Edmonton, the organization will ensure academics remain at the "forefront" for the young talent and that any player fees/budgets are "affordable and effective for all families involved."

"This is a bold new territory for us at Hockey Edmonton," said Will Jang, president. "It has the potential to redefine minor hockey in Edmonton. This is an unprecedented opportunity to help show our U18 AAA teams and grow the game at the grassroots level."

More information about the program will be released later in the summer, the Oilers Entertainment Group said.

The new partnership was announced on Monday at Rogers Place, with Oilers alumni and former head coach Craig MacTavish hailing it as a natural fit that represents a "win-win for everybody."

"It's going to be wildly exciting for the players to put that jersey on and be part of an exciting winning Oilers organization," MacTavish said.

"I think it's great branding for the Oilers," he added. "Their charitable arm reaches wide and long, and this is just another example of that. It's really great for the community and for developing hockey players."

Bob Nicholson, Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club chairman, said in a statement that the new junior team would help expand the city's high-performance hockey culture.

"The Edmonton Oilers are proud to partner with Hockey Edmonton to grow the game of hockey through the Edmonton Junior Oilers," said Bob Nicholson, Edmonton Oilers chairman.

"This will create a legacy of community, sportsmanship and hockey excellence for kids growing up in Oil Country,” he added in a statement. “Minor hockey is a cornerstone of our community, and this partnership will help ensure that the most elite levels of youth hockey remain a part of this trusted institution for years to come."