Oilers notes & quotes

By Guy Flaming

The recent Oilers Top 20 article featured just a portion of the tidbits and quotes gathered over the last few months.  Here’s a collection of the overflow as well as some newly accumulated fodder on other prospects in the system.

Notes

1. Many Swedes have emailed asking why we wrote that forward Linus Omark is signed in Luleå for another season.  The answer is simple — that’s what the Oilers told HF.  HF is trying to get clarification on the matter right now.

2. Another Swedish prospect with Oiler ties is William Quist.  He’s had a tumultuous season (see quotes below) and there is speculation that he will either play in Canada next year or for the Nybro Vikings of the Allsvenska (tier II).  Either would be a step up but to play in the CHL would require getting taken in the Import Draft.  HF has an unconfirmed report that either the Oilers or the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings have asked Quist about his interest in playing in North America next season.

3. Stockton Thunder forward David Rohlfs has scored 12 points in his last 12 games.

4. Tyler Spurgeon’s list of surgeries in the top 20 was slightly off.  To date he’s had one shoulder surgery and another last spring to repair a sports hernia.  The shoulder injury that Spurgeon endured in training camp did not require going under the knife.

5. Let the Cody Wild watch begin. With Providence College suffering back-to-back 5-1 blowout loses to Boston College in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs, the Friars’ season has come to and end.  If Wild is going to forego his senior year and jump to the pro ranks, it’ll happen soon as the Oilers would love to have him join the AHL Springfield Falcons for their playoff stretch.

6. Riley Nash and the Cornell Big Red are through to the next round of the ECAC playoffs after a road sweep of Union.  Nash had a pair of assists in the 3-2 victory on Saturday night.  And don’t be surprised if Edmonton has their eye on Nash’s older brother Brendon who is also at Cornell as a sophomore.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to think he could get an invite to the planned May prospects camp.

7. The Maine Black Bears are done for the year and so too is forward Robby Dee.  He ends his freshman year with a disappointing three points to his credit.

8. Denver, North Dakota and Michigan State will likely be in the 16-team national tournament, which will keep Matt Glasser, Chris Vande Velde, Taylor Chorney and Jeff Petry active for a little while longer.  Cornell probably has to win their conference to get to the big dance.

9. In the CHL, all three Oiler prospects are playing for strong teams.  Goaltender Bryan Pitton is backstopping the division-leading Brampton Battalion while Kelowna’s Milan Kytnar and Calgary’s Alex Plante are playing supporting roles on their playoff-bound teams. 

10. Springfield’s Slava Trukhno is red hot as of late.  He now has a seven-game point streak intact and has collected six goals and four assists in that span.  

Quotes

Edmonton’s newly crowned No. 1 prospect Jeff Petry

“He’s had an outstanding year for a freshman at the defending championship school. He handles pressure well, he adapts to the way each game is going, he’s very creative, he thinks fast on his feet, he can shoot, pass and skate; he’s got all the ingredients to hopefully become an outstanding pro.”
    – Oilers VP of Hockey Operations Kevin Prendergast’s description of Petry, chosen 45th overall in 2006 with a compensatory pick received for not signing 2002 first     round bust Jesse Niinimaki.

“We’re looking at the finished product with Tom Gilbert but I think if we looked back at his first year at Wisconsin it’s very similar to the way Jeff is playing now.  I think Jeff will figure out that jumping into the play and being more creative is going to help his game but I think that will come in the next year or two.”  
    – Prendergast’s response when asked if the current Oiler would be a good NHL comparison for Petry.

North Dakota junior blueliner Taylor Chorney

“He continues to grow on the ice and off the ice and that’s very important.  He’s got a bright future ahead of him and he’s going to be a guy that can play for the Edmonton Oilers and do great things there for many years to come.  He’s just a very good, solid two-way guy and he’s one of the guys who takes a lot of pride in being a part of the program here. His father played in the program before him and he’ll take that sense of tradition on to the next organization which also has a tremendous sense of tradition in Edmonton.”
    – Head coach Dave Hakstol, an Alberta native, talking about the character of his star rearguard.

“When I get the puck and get my head up, if I see net no matter if it’s power play or penalty kill our coaches are telling us to shoot.  Even watching the NHL, guys are so good in front of the net with screening or tipping that it doesn’t always have to be a big slap shot so I’m just trying to get pucks on net. I guess I’m the kind of guy who takes what is given to me; I like to look to my partner, I wouldn’t say I’m a selfish player because I like to pass but if the shot is there I’m going to take it.” 
    – Chorney explaining his mindset when it comes to scoring, as his goal totals are at a college career low.

Forward Rob Schremp gets some serious compliments for planning his summer training well before the end of this season

“He’s looking into different programs to get stronger and faster and that means a whole dedication over the summer with weight training and diet to get his body into ‘next level’ shape.  He sees the guys who are at the next level and how hard they work off the ice and he’s already made steps for the summer to get into some programs.”
    – Springfield head coach Kelly Buchberger during a recent Edmonton radio interview.

“In the defensive zone it’s pretty easy but you want to get down low and help out more and be more involved, sometimes you get sleeping a little bit just watching your point but I don’t mind it, it is less responsibility I guess. Quite honestly, when I was playing center I wasn’t bad defensively. It’s not like I couldn’t handle the responsibility, I think I was fine in that aspect.”
    – Schremp when asked about the club’s decision to move him to the wing to take some of the defensive load off of his shoulders.

“This year was obviously less dramatic.  With Ryan Smyth getting traded, that was crazy, I never really thought I’d see that day.  It was actually good for me, having [Robert] Nilsson come down and play in Wilkes-Barre with me for a little while was good and now we have ‘Omar’ this year.  This year seemed a lot more quiet.”
    – Schremp on the trade deadline and the difference from last year.

“We’ve had tons of injuries this year and for the last month of two the trainer’s room has been full every day.  It seems like our team changes every week as we get new guys to fill in spots and holes.  It’s been tough but we’ve been battling to hang onto that last playoff spot.  We want to move up but at the same time it would be nice to put some space between the teams behind us. We’ve got a lot of youth and inexperience right now but we’re still pulling out some tough wins.”
    – Schremp on the arduous playoff stretch.
 
“I’m getting a lot more responsibility this year than I did in Wilkes-Barre as far as playing on the first power play, being on the first line and playing those minutes.  There’s still certain situation here that I’d like to get into.  Maybe learn to penalty kill and bring that aspect into my game; you see guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk out there penalty killing and that’s something I’d like to learn here this year. As far as minutes go I’ve definitely played more this year.  Last year it took me until January to start playing a lot more and playing like I wanted to play and this year it started right out of the gate and I started producing.”
    – Schremp on the difference between this season and last.

Might Cornell’s Riley Nash follow Dartmouth’s T.J Galiardi who last year heading back to Canada to play in the WHL or could he turn pro?

“I don’t think he’s strong enough [for the AHL] and I wouldn’t want to put him in a situation where he’s not going to be successful; I’d much rather see him in junior than the AHL.”
    – Prendergast explaining the difference and his preference between the two scenarios

Newly recalled prospect Marc Pouliot played his 65th NHL game less than a week ago 

“I think over the last few weeks Pouliot has been [Springfield’s] best forward. He’s assumed the No. 1 center role on that team; he’s gone down to Springfield and done everything we’ve asked him to do.  I think we’d like to get him a few games with the big team before the end of the year but they’re trying to make the playoffs so if we don’t, that’s not going to affect his status with the team and we think he could play in the NHL next year.”
    – Prendergast on March 5

“Marc’s been one of our best players since he’s been down here and that’s been the majority of the season.  He plays on the first line, he kills penalties, first line power play also and the one thing he does really well is protect the puck well down low in the offensive zone and he creates a lot of chances.  He’s willing to battle, he’s been in a couple of fights, he’ll take hits to make plays and he’s very passionate about his game.  If there’s one weakness it would be his down low coverage in the defensive zone.”
    – Buchberger’s scouting report given on March 4

“He’s put a lot of thought into what it takes to play in the NHL and he knows the mistakes he’s made.  When you’ve played with a guy like Crosby and then put up the kind of numbers that he has in junior and in the AHL, there certainly is talent there it’s just a matter of getting comfortable within yourself and letting your hockey sense dictate the way you play the game.  He played out of position [in the NHL], wasn’t comfortable and had a couple of bad games and put himself in the doghouse and rightfully so for the mistakes he made.  He gets a confidence level from playing a lot in the AHL and I think looking at our young [NHL] guys and how they’ve come along, I think that he could establish that with this team next year.  I think we’d have to play him at center though and make the decision that we’d have to live with [his mistakes] for the short term.  He just needs consistency; don’t be afraid to make mistakes because they’re going to happen but limit the mistakes.” 
    – Prendergast’s answer when asked if he could put a finger on where Pouliot failed before and what he’d have to do to stick with the team.

Chris Vande Velde is a newcomer to the Top 20 and makes a splash coming in at No. 6

“He’s a great player and a great guy in general.  Me and him live together so I’m around him quite a bit.  His strength on the puck is phenomenal, I don’t know anyone who is stronger on the puck than he is.  He’s a horse out there, he’s tough to go against in practice!  He’s definitely stepped up and into a role that he needs to help this team this year.”
    – North Dakota star forward and St. Louis Blues’ 1st round pick T.J. Oshie, a frequent linemate of Vande Velde.

“The one thing that you notice every day practicing with ‘Vandy’ is how well he protects the puck.  He’s not a huge guy but he’s a big guy and he uses his body really well down low and if you can get a guy that’s that big who likes to hold onto the puck and make plays it’s really tough to cover.  I think last year we started to see bits of it at the end of the year but this year he’s just gotten so much of an opportunity, chances to play on the first power play and with some really good players and he’s taken advantage of it.”
    – Chorney on his fellow Oiler prospect and UND teammate.

“I see myself as a power forward, go to the net and score goals and make plays.  I could improve on my physical play a bit but I’ve got size so hopefully I can bring that up there and show them what I’ve got.”
    – Vande Velde talking about what he feels he has to offer the Oilers down the road.


Ryan O’Marra’s rookie year has seen more ups than downs

“I think it was a pretty big blow to be sent down to the ECHL.  It kind of shows that you can never be too comfortable and you always have to be working hard, not to say that he wasn’t but I don’t think he or anyone expected that he’d be playing in Stockton this year.  Since he’s come back he’s been a great player for us and his confidence is [growing] with every game and every day in practice.  He’s playing a tough and gritty game, doing what Kelly wants and I think he’ll be a hell of a player.”
    – Teammate Rob Schremp on O’Marra this year.

“We both had high expectations for where we wanted to be compared to where we ended up being.  It’s always tough but you have to stay focused because you never know so you have to control what you can control.  You just have to go out and play, it doesn’t matter where you are.  If you’re here in Springfield or Stockton or up in Edmonton, you just play the game you love and don’t worry about what decisions management makes; just play your game.”
    – Schremp when asked if he saw any similarities between his rookie pro year and O’Marra’s.

“He’s been rewarded for his play [in Stockton] and his play now, he’s more confident with the puck and he just seems more comfortable, he’s played way better.  I think Ryan was one of the players that maybe took the [AHL] for granted. This is not an easy league to play in; there are a lot of young prospects that want to prove themselves every night and there are older veterans with good skill.  He’s now our second line center and he has a good touch around the net and he gets his chances but it’s the time away from the puck and maybe not reading the right play in the defensive zone.  Offensively he has more skill than a lot of people know.  He’ll get his time in the NHL that’s for sure.”
    – Buchberger explaining the differences he’s seen in O’Marra pre-and-post his ECHL stint.

‘Crazy Train’s’ season has been derailed but Edmonton still holds out hope for J.F. Jacques

“Look at Zack when he goes after guys, the tough guy comes over the boards and wants to go with him. For J.F. to succeed in the NHL he’s going to have to be prepared to fight, he might not have to do it a lot but to be a big part of our team he’s going to have to be prepared to bring that element anyway.”
    – Prendergast when asked if Jacques can be a NHL player and what he needs to do differently with his next opportunity.

“He’s got points down there and he certainly does all the things that we expected him to do when we drafted him.  We’re giving him a lot of ice time and responsibility to get him some confidence.  He plays on the power play, we got him killing penalties and he’s working hard on his game in practice.  He’s willing to go down and block shots and he’s still willing to be a physical presence. When he’s on his game there’s not too many guys that can dominate like he can down here.”
    – Prendergast again explaining why the organization still has belief in Jacques when most fans appear ready to move on.

Former Providence Friar Colin McDonald has garnered positive and negative reviews this year.

“I’ve been on the first line, I’ve been on the fourth line, I’ve been in the stands, I’ve been on the checking line and the go-to line; I’ve pretty much done it all this year.  I am versatile so they can put me on the fourth line and I can be successful there. I don’t care what line I’m playing on, I know I’m going to get some offensive chances at some point and hopefully we can capitalize on them.”      
    – McDonald when asked if he’s had a steady role or linemates in Springfield.

“I’m not disappointed in myself but at the same time I’m not satisfied either.  There’s been some mistakes on my part that have led to goals and there have been fluke things where I’ve just gotten on the ice and they’ve scored.  I am disappointed in that [minus-20] but at the same time I can’t dwell on that.  The coaches and teammates watch the games, they see what happens out there.”
    – McDonald said of his stats line of 23 points and a –20, now a –21.

“Overall, Colin McDonald’s progress has come a long way this year.”
    – Buchberger’s mid-season report.

“Adjusting to the number of games that we have here in a season has been the toughest for me by far.  In my four years at [Providence] we never made it past the first round so the most games I played was [37].  It’s not so much the physical adjustment but more the mental aspect of being ready for 80 games a year.  In junior we played Saturday-Sunday every week and in college it was Friday-Saturday every week so for those eight years my body has been programmed to practice during the week and play two games on the weekend.  That’s a lot different here.”
    – McDonald explaining how exactly the heavy game schedule in the AHL is something to get used to for former college players like him.

Liam Reddox has evolved

“Liam finally understood towards the end of [last] year that it wasn’t the points that were important but reliability; if you’re reliable you get more ice time and that’s what he’s done this year.  Even in his game with the Oilers he was reliable.  He got the puck out and almost scored on the first shift of the game.  He’s got confidence and Kelly’s showed a lot of confidence in him this year.”
    – Prendergast’s speculation on the turning point for Reddox’s career.

“Every morning at quarter to 8:00 he and Bryan Young are in the dressing room working out, you don’t have to tell them anything.  They don’t even have a television in their apartment.  He’s just dedicated himself to becoming a pro.”
    – Prendergast explaining the extent of dedication Reddox and Young have shown this year.

Swede Linus Omark is an undeniable talent but…

“Everything you’re looking for in a hockey player is there but the only problem is he’s 5’9.”
    – Prendergast’s succinct but mixed scouting report on the Luleå forward.

Undrafted signee Sebastien Bisaillon has turned heads this year

“His shot his incredible!  He has one of the biggest shots I have ever seen, it’s crazy.”
    – Oiler defenseman Mathieu Roy couldn’t say enough good things about Bisaillon after recently getting recalled to Edmonton.

“There are similarities but I think [Bisaillon] is going to be better because he doesn’t turn the puck over as much as ‘Bergy’ sometimes did.”
    – Roy’s thoughts about the comparison to former Oiler Marc-Andre Bergeron

Brampton keeper has his team believing

“Pitton’s been unbelievable for us all year; he’s had one of the best save percentages in the league and he’s been a rock back there for us.”
    – Brampton teammate Cody Hodgson while in Edmonton for the Top Prospects Game

Import Milan Kytnar has fit in and become a key player for the surging Kelowna Rockets

“He’s been good for us this year. I think at the start of the year there was that time where he needed to adjust to the North American style of game but he’s been good.  He’s just a solid two-way player and I think a solid prospect for the Edmonton Oilers.  He’s more defensive, very good on the penalty kill and that type of thing, he’s a guy that you like to have on the ice with you because he’s a safe player and he makes the right plays.”
    – Rockets teammate and 2008 top prospect Luke Schenn

Swede William Quist has had a tumultuous year after an impressive camp in Edmonton last fall

“[Quist] got into a [disagreement] with his coach and left the team.  He went back to his original junior team.  They had a national U19 camp that he was at and he really disappointed me from the guy I saw at our training camp; basically no effort to his game so I told him ‘if you think this is how you’re going to get to the NHL, you don’t have a chance and from the standpoint of your development you’ve gone backwards!  If you have any thoughts of wanting to become a pro you’d better give some serious thoughts to coming to Canada to play next year.’”
    – Prendergast recapping the goings on of the 2007 late-round selection

Josef Hrabal is playing for Cherepovets Severstal in Russia

“Hrabal’s playing well; he’s playing regular shifts in the RSL but he didn’t at the Karjala Cup because I think he was trying to do too much there.  The guy is a great skater and he can move the puck.  He’d probably need a year in the AHL but he’s a big guy with great hockey sense that can skate and in today’s game that’s an obvious plus.”
    – Prendergast on the Czech born defenseman.

Note: Many of the above quotes, especially those featuring North Dakota players and coaches, appear courtesy of The Pipeline Show with hosts Dean Millard and Guy Flaming.

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