The 36 prospects may be working to one day fill a spot on the Oilers future roster, but for Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan, he feels it’s equally important that the coaches give these players exposure to what their teaching philosophy is like.
“It’s an opportunity for us to be involved and create some relationships with our future prospects and it also gives us a chance to sell our identity to these young players, because some of them are going to be Oilers for a long time,” said the bench boss.
“There’s no better time than now to get them learning and understanding what our language is and what our habits are, how we want to play the game and more specifically, the skill-set that’s needed to play the game within our system.”
As players work hard in hopes of making long-standing impressions on the 10-man on-ice coaching staff, McLellan chose to sit just within reach of the rink, watching and providing feedback when necessary.
“I’m not evaluating, I’m not sitting here saying that this guy has a chance to play or that guy does, that will happen at training camp,” said McLellan. “We have to remember that it’s very early in July and we encourage these players to step outside their comfort zone, think outside the box a little bit. We want to see them make mistakes and try things, so the biggest thing that we have to do is come in with an open mind and not an evaluation mind.”
As day four’s on-ice sessions wrap up from the morning, McLellan said he’s pleased with what he’s seen both from the players and the staff.
“The coaching staff has done a really good job preparing meetings and drills and video sessions, really breaking down individual skills and the players in turn have been extremely receptive.
“To this point, we’re really happy with it and we’re hoping that it finishes on a positive note so these guys can take what they learn here and apply it to their games in the winter.”