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A closer look at four top Oilers prospects

by Kristi Hennessy / Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers kick off Development Camp Tuesday at Clareview Arena in Edmonton and there will be plenty of names familiar to Oilers fans suiting up.

Nearly every Oilers fan knows about Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle while quite a few have familiarized themselves with Swedish sensation Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. But in total there will be 28 skaters at this camp with more than just a few of them lining up for a decent chance at crakcing the squad this fall.

Four players in particular who will be pushing for a spot in Edmonton are Chris Vande Velde, Jeff Petry, Philippe Cornet and Teemu Hartikainen. If they don't make the team, they will be playing key roles on the team's AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

This week, their journey to the NHL truly begins.

Chris Vande Velde - C
Drafted 2005 (4th round, 97th overall)

Chris Vande Velde was named to the WCHA Final Five All-Tournament team after putting up five points in three games.
Chris Vande Velde, a native of Moorhead, Minnesota, was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round (97th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

Vande Velde just completed his third season with the University of North Dakota, playing for the Fighting Sioux. Last season he led the Fighting Sioux in scoring with a career-high 16 goals, and 41 points. Seven of those goals came on the power play and four were game winners. He also won a team-leading 477 faceoffs and had a faceoff success rate of 54.2 percent.

Vande Velde was named to the 2010 Red Baron WCHA Final Five All-Tournament Team after scoring two goals and three assists in three games in leading the Sioux to the Broadmoor Trophy as tournament champions.

When the Fighting Sioux season ended, Vande Velde signed a contract with Edmonton and reported to its American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield, Mass. He played in a pair of games, recording his first AHL assist.

“He has pretty decent speed, battles hard in the corners and always comes out with the puck,” said Oilers Director of Player Development Mike Sillinger. “He does a lot of the dirty work. He would be a big addition to our farm team.”

Vande Velde played in 166 career games, tied for eighth all-time at UND, and scored 52 goals and 65 assists for 117 points. He scored at least 30 points in each of his last three seasons.
Jeff Petry - D
Drafted 2006 (2nd round, 45th overall)

Jeff Petry completed his Junior Year with Michigan State in 2009-10 before suiting up with Springfield (AHL) at the end of the season.
Jeff Petry was drafted by the Oilers in the second round (45th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

He would be described as a smart two-way defenceman who is an excellent skater with good mobility. He is not afraid to go to the front of the net and battle for the puck. He is known for having a solid point shot and tends to favour his wrist shot. Petry has the stick handling and skating skills to skate the puck out of the zone himself or make accurate passes to his linemates. He has great size for a defenceman sitting at 6’3” and 195 pounds.

“Jeff is a big lanky, smooth defenceman,” said Sillinger. “At times he almost looks lethargic but he’s not la lethargic, he’s just really smooth.”

“He has an excellent shot on the power play and finds a way to get pucks to the net. He is very confident in his skating and has such a big reach so he knows how to keep opponents to the outside.”

Petry is coming off of his third season with Michigan State.  After a disappointing sophomore season in 2008-09 in which he was held to just 14 points, he was looking for a strong bounce back season- mission accomplished. In 38 games, he improved to 25 assists and 29 points. He was named to Inside College Hockey's All-America third team in April.

After his season was finished, Petry opted to forego his senior season. He signed a professional contract with the Edmonton Oilers and played in his first professional game on March 26 with the Springfield Falcons. He played eight games total in the AHL, picking up three assists.

Philippe Cornet - LW
Drafted 2008 (5th round, 133rd overall)

EDMONTON, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 16: Robin Figren #41 of the New York Islanders battles for position with Philippe Cornet #23 of the Edmonton Oilers on September 16, 2009 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Oilers won 3-2. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images) )
Philippe Cornet was selected in the 5th round (133rd overall) in the 2008 NHL entry draft from the Rimouski Oceanics of the Quebec Major Junior League.  He is known to be a very fast, smart player who is always pushing to get stronger and faster.

“He can navigate the ice well, and he’s got good instincts, of course.” said Oilers Head Coach Tom Renney last season.  “He’s one of those guys that you can see that the hockey sense is certainly an asset, without a doubt.”

The 6’1”, 189 lb. Quebec native, played three full seasons with the Oceanic before being traded to Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL for the 2009-10 season. He is coming off another outstanding season picking up 28 goals and 77 points in 65 games. In the playoffs he added 11 points in 11 games for the Huskies.

Cornet was invited to Team Canada’s junior camp and although he did not make the national junior team, he was one of the very last to be cut from the line-up. He returned to the QMJHL and continued his successful season.

“He is a skinny guy but he is very strong,” said Sillinger. “He has great speed and a great shot. This kid clearly got better from the start of the season to the end of the season. He had an excellent year and could really help our farm system.”

Teemu Hartikainen - LW
Drafted 2008 (6th round, 163rd overall)

LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 09: Teemu Hartikainen #26 of Team Finland skates against Team USA at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp on August 9, 2008 at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 
Teemu Hartikainen was drafted in the sixth round (163rd overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. It was his superb rookie 2008-09 season that interested the Oilers to begin with. That season Hartikainen set a record for goals in the Finnish Elite League by an 18-year-old with 17.  He was then awarded with the rookie of the year award for his 23 points (17g, 6a) in 51 games.

The Kuopio, Finland native just finished his second full year with Kalpa of the Finnish Elite League and had another impressive season. His KalPa team finished the regular season in second place with 109 points in 58 games.  Hartikianen finished fifth on his team in points (33) and tied for third in goals with 15.

“Straight ahead he’s not the fastest but side-to-side he is really agile,” Mike Sillinger said about Hartikainen. “He protects the puck well and is really good in the corners because he’s so big and strong. He’s a big guy carrying 215-pounds so he punishes guys and hits hard.”

“He has a really nice knack around the net and he competes like a son-of-a-gun.”

Hartikainen suited up for his country at his second World Junior Championship tournament last January in Saskatchewan, Canada. He was Finland’s best player and leading scorer, showing that he was capable of competing in the North American game. His combination of size and strength complemented his offensive skill perfectly.
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