by Lisa McRitchie on 07/05/13 at 11:00 AM ET
The Edmonton Oilers’ development camp opened yesterday with a little less fanfare for the first time in years. Without another first overall pick, the crowds were smaller; less people felt inclined to take a morning off of work to check out the latest additions. The on ice spectacles were a little less flashy too without Nail Yakupov’s goal celebrations, and overall the air was serious. After years of disappointment in the Oilers’ rebuild, things are about to get very serious, and finally there will be competition for every entry level contract, every position with the Oilers and their farm teams. This year, things get real.
As expected from a development camp, the Oilers invited all of their drafted prospects who have not yet played an NHL game, as well as a few non drafted camp invites. Among them, a 6’7” goaltender, Troy Trembley, a native of Sherwood Park who posted a GAA of 3.64 and a SV% of 0.891 in 6 games with Melville Millionaires of the SJHL (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League) and a GAA of 2.92 and a SV% of 0.991 through the regular season (16 games) and a GAA of 4.74 and a SV% of 0.859 through the playoffs with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
On the ice with the players were Oilers’ power skating coach Steve Serdachny and his staff, Oilers’ goaltender coach Freddie Chabot and his staff as well as Oklahoma City Barons’ coaches Todd Nelson and Rocky Thompson. In the stands, many of the Oilers’ brass were easily spotted, as well as Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach Derek Laxdal.
Todd Nelson working with the Oiler prospects
For the fans in attendance, it was an opportunity to see the new prospects, which players have taken steps forward with their skating and perhaps a glimpse at their conditioning, and which players may have fallen back.
Unfortunately for all, Darnell Nurse, defenceman selected 6th overall by the Oilers at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft was involved in a collision on one of the rinks during the first hour, and did not return to the ice. But, seen on the ice for the entire two hours was defenceman Oscar Klefbom, who by my eye stood out as the best skater. It could of course be the crowd, the short drills, and the interest I had in seeing how he looked post shoulder surgery, but it also makes sense. While Klefbom’s SEL season was cut short due to the surgery, the young Swede came to Edmonton as soon as he was able to skate again, and was training with and working with the Oilers. Klefbom, like most European players coming to North America has to the goal of the NHL rather than the AHL and is willing to put in the work required to reach this goal.
2012 pick Daniil Zharkov could be spotted sporting a new mustache and working with the newly drafted Russian Bogdan Yakimov with various aspects of drills, obviously whenever there was a question about translation or language. Zharkov still appeared to be a popular guy amongst the group, always smiling when standing still, but working and pushing hard on every drill. It was defenceman Martin Gernat who looked unusually somber and so different on his own without his good friend Kristians Pelss. It is at a camp and Oilers’ event like this where it would be hardest for the players who knew Pelss. In time it will get easier, but this was so soon after the news, that you know there was some effect felt.
Other welcomed additions to the Oilers’ ice that may be familiar in Edmonton were Kale Kessy, the big and aggressive left winger, former teammate of goaltender Tyler Bunz on the Medicine Hat Tigers. Kessy definitely looks bigger than his Medicine Hat days, filling out his 6’3” frame to weigh in at 219lbs. Also familiar to many Edmoton junior hockey fans is Edmonton native Greg Chase, son of a former sports morning show dj in town Kyle Chase. Greg Chase was quite the adjitator playing for the Calgary Hitmen, and was especially effective against the Oil Kings. Don’t expect that to chance in the new season just because he was drafted by the Oilers.
Tyler Bunz receivng some one on one, and in the back #50, Troy Trembley
Overall, this crop of players vary widely in their talents, but are generally bigger bodies. There are 37 players in attendance, 4 goaltenders, 13 defencemen and 20 forwards (8 centres, 7 left wingers, and 5 right wingers).
There are 18 players are over 200 pounds, only 5 players less than 6’ tall, 10 right handed shot players. In attendance are also one set of identical twins, the Jones brothers born in 1990. The oldest player in attendance is defenceman Ben Lindemulder, and the youngest LW Aiden Muir who won’t be 18 until August 21st this year.
All in all, it’s an interesting and excellent group of prospects for the Oilers to have amassed. This is an excellent opportunity for the Barons staff to work with and look at some unsigned talent out there to help fill in their roster holes as well.
Fans hoping to have a look at some future Oilers can make their way down to Millenium Place in Sherwood Park Friday morning at 9:30. Drills will run until approximately 11:30 with a quick Zamboni break. For those looking for something more entertaining, the Oilers will run a scrimmage this weekend open to the public.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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