by Lisa McRitchie on 10/30/11 at 07:15 PM ET
The Edmonton Oilers this summer selected another Edmonton native and member of the Edmonton Oil Kings at the 2011 NHL entry draft. Centre Travis Ewanyk hails from St. Albert which for all intents and purposes is essentially just a continuation of Edmonton to the north. Ewanyk was selected in the third round, 74th overall, just one spot behind his teammate and good friend Keegan Lowe who went to the Carolina Hurricaines.
There were several players in the final two rounds, waiting hoping, praying to get selected but in the end went home sad and disappointed. At the same time, there were players that were picked early in the day on day two of the draft that elected to stay home. Ewanyk was one of those players. So, at the Portland Winterhawks versus the Edmonton Oil Kings game on October 21st was my first opportunity to speak with the new Edmonton Oilers prospect.
Sadly, Ewanyk has been sidelined with a nagging shoulder injury that in the end required surgery. There was not much said about when the injury would have happened, but Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show on the Team 1260 points out that if Ewanyk had been injured before the draft, it would have come up at the combine. Likely, as Flaming points out, this injury happened during the Oil Kings training camp in St. Albert. According to everything the team has said, and Ewanyk himself, a return date of March seems to be the reality.
Ewanyk was projected to be drafted, and in the third round approximately 66th. It seemed odd to me that Ewanyk chose to stay at home and not attend the draft, but there are always players projected to be drafted in the “later rounds” that never get selected.
When I asked Ewanyk if he had any regrets on missing the draft, it really didn’t seem he had any. “It was a decision I made with my family and my agent. I thought that I would get the same experience at home. It was nice being with my family.” Of course Ewanyk could have been with his family in St. Paul Minnesota as well, but it sounds as though Ewanyk’s agent and family have helped to keep the centreman well grounded. Although it was a strong likelihood that Ewanyk would be drafted, I can understand the decision to avoid the possibility of disappointment after the pressure and stresses of a media filled weekend.
When I picture the draft for an NHL hopeful, I can’t help but wonder if receiving that jersey and putting it on, even just that one time would make it all worthwhile. “I guess it would have been cool, being down there and meeting the organizational staff, but that was something that I got to do when I went to prospect camp in the summer.”
I was happy to hear that Ewanyk did in fact receive an Oilers jersey although I suspect he will be wearing one at future prospect camps and tournaments. The Oilers development staff will do everything they can to ensure that Ewanyk progresses and has an opportunity at a future with the Oilers. It is true that prospects can and do aid in trades, but in the meantime, prospects are the future of the Oilers, and Billy Moores and the rest of the Oilers’ development staff are on the job.
Even though Ewanyk was injured during the Oilers training camp and prospect tournament, Ewanyk received his individual training plan and is excited to keep working on it.
On his road to recovery, Ewanyk says that he is on pace and that recovery is going “Really well, I’ve been doing physio with the Oilers guy a few times a week and Dr. Magee and he’s supposed to be the best guy around so it’s coming along.” It’s good to know that the Oilers are concerned with Ewanyk’s recovery and keeping up to date with the progress. Although the Oilers’ medical staff has come under fine in recent years, they are still medical professionals and every case is different and sometimes difficult to treat, especially difficult joints.
Although Ewanyk will be watching most of his team’s season from the pressbox, he and his team are excited for this year. “I think that as a bunch, we’re all excited and as a team looking at our roster we have a bunch of really good guys this year. And this year we’ve got a bunch of great players that are going to be drafted and it’s really exciting.”
Several Oil Kings have been drafted highly the past few seasons, and even more are projected to go in the coming years and that has to say something about Oil Kings hockey. “I think it just shows development of the team and the franchise and we’re finally coming up from our original draft, and it just shows what the management has done.”
Ewanyk describes himself as a centreman who would be a welcome addition to any organization. “I’m a two way guy. I like to go up and down the ice. I like to be physical I like to be offensive, but I like playing defence and it’s a big part of my game.“
And in terms of what he can bring to a developing team like the Oilers “I’m going to be a guy that’s going to be a third fourth line guy and I will just go out there and work hard.” Of course it would also be a delight for Ewanyk to progress with an organization like the Oilers. “It’s just exciting, just watching them as a fan and to be a part of that organization when you see guys like Eberle, Hall and Hopkins now it’s pretty cool to watch.”
Speaking of Nugent-Hopkins, Ewanyk says he won’t miss playing against the now former Red Deer Rebel. “I’m just glad I don’t have to play against him this year, and I’m hoping he stays with the Oilers. He’s an amazing player.” Ewanyk was likely very happy for Nugent-Hopkins as well as the Oil Kings over this announcement. In the meantime, Ewanyk’s Oil Kings will still have to play against netminder Tyler Bunz. “He’s going to have a really great season with the Tigers and I think that he’s going to be a really big part of the organization going forward. “
Sadly, there won’t be many updates for Ewanyk until the late winter, or early spring when Ewanyk once again takes to the ice. In the meantime Ewanyk comes across as another excellent character guy addition to the Oilers prospect depth. Standing at 6’2” and 189lbs and with a calm and confident manner Ewanyk has been an important member of the Oil Kings. Ewanyk has worn the ‘A’ and played a very physical role that included 10 fights in the regular season and one in the post season last year.
At the same time, Ewanyk seems extremely grounded and has not let his past experiences or success cloud his judgment or mask just how much work still lies ahead especially given this recent shoulder injury and subsequent surgery.
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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.
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