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Training Camp

Gregory Chase gets another shot at Oilers camp

Forward prospect developing two-way game, working on discipline

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers forward prospect Gregory Chase was considered a potential steal as a seventh-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

But, since then, his stock has fallen.

Chase, 21, struggled at Oilers training camp last season and was assigned to their ECHL affiliate in Norfolk instead of Bakersfield of the American Hockey League.

The move did not sit well with Chase, who is looking to get back into Edmonton's future plans this season. He participated in Oilers rookie camp and the Young Stars Classic tournament in Penticton, B.C., for the fourth time.

"You always want to be in the best place possible for yourself," Chase said. "The first little bit sucked being down there, I'm not going to lie, but I worked my way back up to Bakersfield and had a good stretch with them and then when I went back down. I did my best to work hard on the things that they needed me to work on and I felt like I did that."

Chase made an excellent impression in his first rookie camp in 2013, his potential generating plenty of excitement. He scored 35 goals and had 85 points in 70 games for the Calgary of the Western Hockey League in 2013-14 before concluding the season with the Oilers' AHL affiliate (Oklahoma City at the time).

But Chase has been unable to build on that momentum, leading to questions of whether initial expectations were too high on the No. 188 pick in 2013.

"I don't think so, I think I wanted to set the bar high and you always want to have high expectations of yourself," Chase said. "Going into last year, I think I expected more of myself and maybe I just didn't perform to the level they wanted me to perform. But this year, I'm ready to come in and do that. I came in, in better shape and I'm a little leaner and quicker, so I'm excited to get things going and see how they work out."

Chase believes he is still going through a learning cycle and is developing as a player, albeit, slower than once projected.

"Everyone goes through it in different stretches," he said. "Some learn early, some don't learn at all and some learn a little later. I got a little bit of an eye opener last year with how good that league (AHL) is and how hard it is to be a part of and play on a team and stay there. I have to be a professional every day and I think that's something that you'll see a lot more out of me this year."

Chase had 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 43 ECHL games for Norfolk last season and a goal and six assists in 19 AHL games with Bakersfield.

"I think with Chase, we're still developing in a certain area," Oilers vice president of player development Kelly Buchberger said. "He made some strides last year, he played really well in the East Coast League and I think with Greg, he's one of those players that could be a late bloomer. He's in unbelievable shape, he looks like he's put in a lot of time this summer."

Chase grew to accept his assignment in Norfolk and attempted to work on his shortcomings as a player. The Oilers still believe in his potential to play in the NHL. They feel he could be a reliable two-way forward who can play up and down their lineup.

"I'm still a young guy and I understand you need to develop and you need to work on things," Chase said. "That's what I needed to do down in Norfolk and I felt like I did a really good job of that. I felt like I had a really good season down there, and when I got my chance up in Bakersfield, I thought I played well and showed what I could do. At the end of the day, there were just a lot of bodies there (in Bakersfield). This year, I had a good summer and I'm looking forward to having a good year."

Part of Chase's appeal to the Oilers is his ability to be an agitator who can also provide offense. But his inability to stay disciplined proved a detriment in his final year of junior hockey and first season as a professional.

"There's been some times where it's got me into trouble," Chase said. "So the biggest thing for me is to focus on my game and do the things I can do to help the team, and once in a while, if I need to, get into that kind of stuff to get a spark for our team, then that will be the case. For now, I'm just going to try and stick to my game and just play hockey."

Chase wants to stay on the right side of the line this season, but also continue playing with an edge.

"That's another thing you learn and that was a big one I learned this year, was just discipline," Chase said. "Those are penalties and things you can't take and just being a part of that last year where I took some bad penalties early on in camp and that, kind of, was a reason where I started where I did. If I can control that, which I think I can, it can be a big a part of my game. I need to change and tune-up where it can be a positive factor instead of a negative factor."

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