Women of Oilersnation Melanie Makowecki

We’re back shining the spotlight on the amazing women of Oilersnation after a little summer break for me!

This week’s Woman of Oilersnation is Melanie Makowecki, a member of Oilers Twitter, fellow ball hockey player and advocate for women’s sports, and an all around rad woman! Wait until you see how she met her Flames fan husband.

Last month I featured the amazing Krista Gulseth! If you missed it, you can read her feature here!

If you want to be featured or want to nominate someone to be featured, send me an email or DM on Twitter!

Women of Oilersnation

MEET MELANIE MAKOWECKI

Women of Oilersnation

KYLA: Who are you?! What’s your day job, what are your passions, what’s something interesting about you?

MELANIE: Hello! My name is Melanie.  I am a mom of two active, awesome kids, a wife to a fLames fan, a huge Star Wars nerd and a caregiver/support person for both of my parents.  During the day I am a Forest Management System Customer Service Specialist/Support which is a fancy way of saying forestry consultant and forestry data management.

I have a few things that I am passionate about, first and foremost: my family, football and hockey, the Oilers and Elks and Edmonton Huskies, painting, adventuring and raising awareness for Indigenous values and culture.  I was adopted as an infant, so I am Cree and Italian but was raised Ukrainian catholic and didn’t start learning about my Indigenous culture until I was in my 20s.  Cheering and supporting women in sports is something I am also trying to do.

KYLA: How did you get into hockey and sports in general?

MELANIE: Through my dad, I’ve listened to hockey and football games on the radio since I can remember.  My dad played football growing up and my parents were Oilers fans.  When I was young I was part of a Ukrainian dancing group, as were my brother and sister but I also played softball in the spring/summer as a back catcher.   My younger brother and sister & I were always playing or building something.  We had a basketball hoop in the front of our garage on the farm and after we moved to the city, whenever my brother and his friends were playing street hockey, I joined in. Some of the boys wouldn’t pick me but my brother, who has also supported me, would have me on his team all the time.

Once my kids were old enough to start playing, sports became a huge part of our lives.  My son has been playing football since he was seven and now plays for the Edmonton Huskies, he also played hockey for nine seasons.  My daughter has played ice hockey as a goalie since she was seven as well, this past year was her last season of minor hockey but she also played football, ball hockey, softball and was involved in school sports too.  My husband plays ball hockey and rec hockey and has been a referee for many years.

As a family we watch hockey and football but we are rarely on the same side.  Me: Oilers fan. Husband: fLames fan. Son: Sharks fan. Daughter: Bruins fan.  For football, I am an Elks and New Orleans Saints fan.  My son is a huge Saints fan.  My husband cheers for the Patriots and my daughter cheers for the Edmonton Elks.

Women of Oilersnation

KYLA: What’s your favourite part of continuing to play hockey as an adult?

MELANIE: After playing with my son’s hockey team as part of their team building/dry land activities, I thought about playing ball hockey.  One of my best friends, Kerri-Lynn, contacted WBHE and they were putting in a team of thrown together players. I joined along with our other friend Shannon.  I was 37 and what I knew about positioning and playing was mostly from being a hockey mom lol.  We’re still playing nine years later and our skills have improved and we’re still having fun.  The absolute best part is having my daughter playing alongside me now and the laughs on the bench, dressing room and the floor.

Women of Oilersnation

KYLA: Your rock painting is absolutely amazing! How did you get into doing it? Is there a way people can purchase them from you?

MELANIE: Thank you so much.  It started as a way to keep my kids entertained when we were camping and there would be a rainy day, we would build rock buddies with the rocks we collected during our walks and fishing attempts.  I got back into it during the pandemic as a way of killing time and putting my artistic tendencies to a medium that I liked.  A lot of the time, I remember where I picked the rock, which river and what trip.  I paint the things that mean a lot to me and get my inspiration from photos I’ve taken and scenery.

I don’t yet have a way to purchase but if you contact me through Twitter or Instagram I would love to paint for you.

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KYLA: What’s your favourite Oilers memory?

MELANIE: In no particular order:

  • Watching the Oilers dynasty win the cup, especially the last one.
  • The ’06 cup run!
  • The Battle of Alberta game that happened on April 3, 2013.  I made a jersey bet with a Flames fan on Twitter, loser had to wear the opposing team’s jersey.  The Oilers won 8-2 and a couple days later I met that Flames fan from Twitter and he had the privilege of wearing my Oilers jersey that afternoon. We’ll be celebrating our third wedding anniversary on August 25th.
  • Watching McDavid’s first goal coming back from injury against Columbus. I was sitting in the second tier right above the net when it happened.
  • Seeing Ethan Bear wear a name bar with his last name in Cree brought a tear to my eye.

Women of Oilersnation

KYLA: What does being a part of the Oilersnation community mean to you?

MELANIE: I love it.  Being a part of a community that celebrates and commiserates together is awesome.  Knowing you are not alone in the ups and downs of being an Oilers fan is the greatest thing.  I have met a lot of people that have turned into great friends because of it.

CONNECT WITH MELANIE ON TWITTER & INSTAGRAM!

Women of Oilersnation

her Soul Shot shows women how powerful they are through sport by providing resources, community, and inspiration for all women to live their soul’s truth and take their shot in sports.

Learn more on her Soul Shot’s website, listen to the her Soul Shot Podcast and follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Weve only just begun What to expect from the Leafs this week

On the surface Sunday is a day of rest. No drafts, No roster freezes or unfreezes, and free agency is still a few days away. In fact you could incorrectly interpret the next three days as potentially slower ones leading up to the opening of free agency. That’s probably not the case at all and while today is an empty day on the NHL calendar, I imagine Kyle Dubas will want to keep his phone charged anyway. Here’s what the rest of the week looks like.

Monday: Qualifying Offers for Restricted Free Agents Due

This requires a bit of leg work for the Maple Leafs as they do still have a few restricted free agents that need to be dealt with. Denis Malgin, Nic Petan, Joseph Duszak, and Veini Vehviläinen will all need qualifying offers if the Leafs wish to retain their rights and not have them join unrestricted free agency. The catch. All four of the remaining restricted free agents have arbitration rights. Given that all four were primarily in Europe or the AHL last season, there’s absolutely no reason to believe the Leafs would be stuck with a steep price on any of these players if they go to arbitration, but all four would have a deal the Leafs would be required to accept in the ruling. Even if it is cheaper deals, that might not be something the Leafs want to do, and it’s entirely possible the Leafs want to go another route when it comes to AHL/tweener depth. Still, given the question marks around goaltending, Malgin’s affordable possession game, the still untested upside of Duszak, and the fact that Petan has been serviceable when he’s played, a case could be made for keeping any of them (although Petan requesting a trade last season probably means the Leafs will let him walk.) For the most part, the qualifying offers on the Leafs side seem unnecessary, and if Toronto wants to skip the potential arbitration process, they can just double back around to these players in unrestricted free agency. Toronto’s free agents aren’t what make the day an important one, it’s everyone else’s free agents.

We’ve already seen the Carolina Hurricanes make a terrible trade because they were afraid of what Alex Nedeljkovic would get in a potential arbitration ruling. That’s a pretty big name to walk away from, although they made a deal so they didn’t need to completely walk away. It’s pretty reasonable to think a few steps below the talent level of Nedeljkovic there are potentially RFAs that teams will simply cut their ties with and Monday evening is when we’ll know who exactly is hitting free agency.

Purely from a point of speculation, there are 159 arbitration eligible RFAs in the NHL. And some of them are interesting options. Michael Dal Colle has never found his footing with the Islanders and could be an interesting buy low, Jimmy Vesey style acquisition. Julius Honka is a RHD that has never been given much of a chance at the NHL level either, and it could be time for the Stars to walk away from him. He’d be a cheap offensive defenseman option. Mark Jankowski is a low event center with some physicality that could be part of the new look bottom six for the Leafs. It’s not too difficult to imagine he’d be available. Tyson Jost is another player like Jankowski that could be a fit for Toronto, and considering the Avs need to control costs this offseason, any potential arbitration driven raise to Jost might put them off bringing him back. Cooper Marody hasn’t received a chance in Edmonton, and he could be cut loose, although Jujhar Khaira might be the more intriguing option, even if his underlying numbers are concerning (he has played on non-Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl lines his entire career, what do you expect?) Adam Gaudette was left unprotected in the expansion draft and that could be a sign the Blackhawks don’t want him back, the same could be said of Ondrej Kase, and Nick Ritchie in Boston, and Danton Heinen in Anaheim. While there isn’t any guarantee that teams are done with these players, they certainly have the potential to be cut loose, and wouldn’t be bad buy low-ish options for Toronto.

The other interesting name to watch is Tyler Bertuzzi, who is arbitration eligible and has a pricey qualifying offer to begin with. While it doesn’t seem likely that Steve Yzerman will let Bertuzzi walk for nothing, he could be looking to deal him to avoid having to live with an unfavourable arbitration ruling or tougher contract negotiation because of his arbitration eligibility.

Look for potential smaller deals involving these players in the next couple of days. A whole list of arbitration eligible RFAs can be found at PuckPedia.com

Tuesday: Last call for buyouts (for now)

It made sense that we saw a hold off on buyouts heading into the expansion draft. Even if there wasn’t any chance that Seattle was picking one of these buyout bound players, they were players that teams could leave exposed, which I’m sure was still somewhat helpful.

Now that the expansion draft has passed, and the entry draft no longer is the priority, teams can get back to the business of cutting players.

Much like restricted free agency, this isn’t really something that will be a huge worry for Kyle Dubas. Unless he acquires a player for the purpose of buying them out, which seems unlikely because you generally need cap space to do that. It’s also possible that Dubas could be shopping some teams for situations where if that team retains half the salary in trade it might be more favourable than a buyout for the team. It could happen, but what definitely doesn’t seem like it will happen is that Kyle Dubas will buy anyone on the Leafs out. As frustrated as we might be with the Leafs, there really isn’t a contract that Toronto should buyout.

No, it’s about shopping other buyouts, and Ryan Suter would already be an interesting target if I wasn’t positive the Leafs will leave their defense alone. Expecting the Oilers to be busy with James Neal and Mikko Koskinen is a start. Neal could be an interesting option on a short term, very low cap hit as he could possibly work in sheltered scoring situations. There is always a looming thought that Jeff Skinner could be bought out in Buffalo, and with the overhaul there, they might take the cap hit to move on from a roster they’ve received nothing but frustration from. Skinner could be a fun reclamation project for any team that wants to explore how much good hockey is left in him. Paul Byron and Tyler Johnson are other names that seem to be thrown about, and like the other players mentioned, they could be fun fits in Toronto at the right price.

Wednesday: Welcome to free agency

I don’t think this one needs a lot of explaining. This is the day. Between May 31st and now there haven’t been any of the changes that many Leafs fans have been calling for and now something finally is going to give, and it seems unlikely the day will end without at least a little change. We’ll see Zach Hyman confirmed to Edmonton. We’ll see if Frederik Andersen is still viewed by anyone as a $5M AAV goaltender.

Dubas seems to be putting emphasis on reforming the way the bottom part of the roster works. It seems that Kerfoot may have inherited a top six wing role out of his struggles as a 3rd line center, so it seems likely the focus will be on an affordable goaltender that can compete with Jack Campbell, a top six winger with some edge similar to what Zach Hyman or Nick Foligno brought, and perhaps most importantly, a legitimate 3rd line center and at present, Phillip Danault looks to be the premium option available.

Now there’s nothing to guarantee that Brooks will be in. There’s nothing to guarantee that trades won’t be made. And who knows, the Leafs could boldly believe that Nick Robertson and Joey Anderson can fill those vacancies, and that leaves the Leafs a small fortune to spend on another goaltender. The reality is this picture will change even if Kyle Dubas wants to assure us it won’t. This picture leaves Toronto with approximately $9.3M to address three positions, not include reserve spots on the roster and realistically if they stick to a $2.5M-$4M on each of these positions, there’s no reason to believe the team won’t look solid.

And beyond:

Free agency will be a storyline for about a week or so. As long as there is one name brand player who isn’t signed we’ll keep on hearing about it, but Dubas is a planner. I can’t imagine he’s wanting to prolong this process, and as soon as he can comfortably check something off his to do list, he’ll do it.

The Leafs also seem to have put themselves in a position where they don’t want to deal with the hassle of arbitration. I’d wager Dubas would rather deal with his RFAs as UFAs than deal with arbitration hearings on bubble players, but in the event that I’m wrong, or that the Leafs trade for someone who does require arbitration, that’s going to come up in August.

There’s also NCAA rights expiring to watch for on August 15th. For the Leafs that means potentially losing the rights to James Greenway, but there are bound to be a few other players around the league of note on this small, but noteworthy date on the calendar.

Then the quiet stretch until training camp, save for the camp invites. It seems like most of the summer is being condensed into this week, and for a team that drastically needs to be better, the bar is set high while the organization isn’t promising much. Come next week at this time, it will be interesting to see how Leafs fans view this team.

Four round four targets for the Winnipeg Jets

There will be more misses than hits at the 2021 NHL Draft. History has shown this.

It’s a law of diminishing returns, too.

The later in the draft you get, the longer the odds that your pick-turned-prospect will blossom into an NHL player, much less an NHL star.

And whether you feel the 2021 NHL Draft class is lacking in punch, power, or prestige, it isn’t without its intrigue.

Undoubtedly, most prospects will fizzle. It’s the nature of the game. But some will hit, blossoming into an NHL player that’ll leave fans and organizations alike wondering what one team saw that 31 others didn’t. Many of those will come beyond the first round.

With that, here are five targets from the class that could hit, and your team should consider selecting in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Draft:

Samu Salminen, LW, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-Sarja)
FCHockey Rank: 111

Samu Salminen brings a multi-dimensional offensive package to the game. He’s a capable goal scoring and playmaking threat and has positional versatility as he can play both center and on the wing. He was a productive player for Jokerit U20 during his draft season, scoring 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in 17 games, and has a pro caliber frame standing at 6-foot-2, 186 pounds.

Consistency will be key for Salminen as he tries to develop his game and prepare himself for a potential NHL career. With his offensive skillset and his physical traits, Salminen is a name that you will want to have on your radar when your team is on the clock in the fourth round.

“He displays some good puck skills for a player his size, he can protect the puck from checkers with his reach and can use that reach to angle the puck around defenders to find teammates in the offensive zone,” FCHockey scout Brandon Holmes said.

Red Savage, C, USNDP
FCHockey Rank: 115

Red Savage is a consistent creator on the ice who reads the game well and can spot open teammates with ease. He is a tried-and-true middle-six player, his IQ and skillset allow him to support his teammates in puck battles and can always be relied on as a trusted outlet. He plays a strong two-way game and while his smarts and ability to support his teammates are his best attributes, he’s capable of chipping in and producing offense when needed. Playing for the US National Development Program, Savage scored 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists) in 46 games.

When drafting in the fourth round, if you can find a player whose game will translate well to the NHL level you usually come away happy. Savage is one of those players, and he’s a prospect to keep an eye on once this round begins.

“Savage is a two-way center with a defense-first mindset, having a great motor and a hunger for the puck, consistently applying pressure on puck carriers,” FCHockey scout Dylan Krill said. “He can be used in all situations and is very effective on the PK. He understands where to be to take advantage of vulnerable opponents and has the will to out-battle them for the puck.”

Jimi Suomi, D, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-Sarja)
FCHockey Rank : 119

Jimi Suomi is a talented blueliner; he brings an offensive-minded style of play and is a capable defender in the transition game. He loves to jump into the rush to help his team generate offensive chances, if you are flat-footed while he’s on the ice Suomi will exploit you and make you pay with his quick bursts of speed in the transition game.

There’s a ton of upside in his game. While playing in the U20 league in Finland, Suomi produced 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 15 games. He followed that up with a good showing at the U18 tournament, recording four assists in seven games. Although he needs to work on some areas of his game, Suomi’s a potential high-reward player who, if developed properly has the potential to be a steal in the middle rounds of the draft.

“There aren’t very many defensemen in this draft who are more high-risk, high-reward than Suomi,” FCHockey scout Derek Neumeier said. “At his best, he’s the type of defenseman with enough skill to exit dangerous forecheck pressure and carry the puck end-to-end.”

Liam Dower Nilsson, C, Frolunda J20 (J20 Nationell)
FCHockey Rank: 121

Liam Dower Nilsson is a smart, two-way pivot who brings excellent playmaking potential to the offensive game. Using his smarts, he has great positional discipline at both ends of the ice, capable of providing off the puck support to his teammates whenever they’re in need of it. While playing for Frolunda’s J20 team, he scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 16 games.

A steady two-way player with offensive upside is a must for any team when drafting in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, and Dower Nilsson has that potential.

“He is a true playmaker that set up great plays and he has a high sense of Hockey IQ,” FCHockey scout Fredrik Haak said. “Dower Nilsson is a player to use if you need to score at the end of the game and also a player that you need on the ice to protect a lead.”

Dmitri Buchnelikov, RW, SKA-1946 (MHL)
FCHockey Rank: 125

Dmitri Buchnelikov is an entertaining forward, every time he steps on the ice he has the potential to make something happen. He has an aggressive mindset and is able to put the opposing team’s defense on their heels with his skating and puck skills. He’s got play driving potential and can generate offense for himself and his teammates. As a smaller player, standing 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, Buchnelikov scored 11 goals and 10 assists in 29 MHL games during his draft year.

A multi-dimensional threat in the offensive zone, he works well off the puck and can get open in the slot for prime scoring chances. He’s also capable of working out of the cycle, attacking the slot while carrying the puck to create shots for himself or to open up passing lanes and set up his teammates.

Buchnelikov is a high-ceiling type of player and with the excitement that he brings with the puck on his stick, he’s a perfect candidate to take a swing on in the fourth round. If your team selects him, you will want to watch his development as he could be a hidden gem at this point in the draft.

Austin Broad is a scout and contributor at FCHockey

Nation Network readers can get 25% off FCHockey’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide with promo code NATIONNETWORK. Unlock your savings at checkout!

Flames select Arsenii Sergeyev at 205th overall

The Calgary Flames have made their final selection at the 2021 NHL Draft. With their seventh round pick, 205th overall, they’ve drafted goaltender Arsenii Sergeyev.

Sergeyev was the 8th-ranked North American goalie by Central Scouting. He wasn’t ranked by FC Hockey.

A December 2002 birthday, Sergeyev is originally from Yaroslavl, Russia. He’s listed at 6’3″ and 192 pounds. He came over to North America in 2019-20 and split time between the NAHL’s New Jersey Junior Titans, the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede and the NCDC’s New Jersey Rockets.

He played his entire 2020-21 season with the amazingly-named Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL, where he posted an impressive 14-4-2 record with a 2.17 goals against average and .936 save percentage in 20 games. He led the Mudbugs to a championship.

Sergeyev is committed to the University of Connecticut for the 2022-23 season and will play with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm for the 2021-22 season.

Canucks draft Swedish defenceman Hugo Gabrielson

The Vancouver Canucks have selected Swedish defenceman Hugo Gabrielson with the 169th overall pick.

Gabrielson is a left-shot defenceman standing at 6’1 and weighs 172 pounds.

Our resident prospect guru Chris Faber was absolutely ecstatic with the pick for the Canucks:

Here’s what Faber wrote about Gabrielson earlier this month:

A smooth-skating Swedish defenceman who was unable to finish his season due to COVID, Hugo Gabrielson is a smart defenceman who looks uber comfortable with the puck around the blue line. He was the sixth highest-scoring defenceman in the J20 Nationell league before it shut down.

Gabrielson has great spatial awareness in his own zone and it helps that he is always moving his feet to gain momentum on his edges. His skating sticks out in the HockeyEttan league and he will move up to the Swedish second division next season to show the growth in his game.

We will have plenty of analysis in the coming days on this prospect and all of the other ones the Canucks select today.


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