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BLOG: Patience from Haas, Nygard rewarded with Oilers opportunity

The pair of forwards excelled in their previous seasons overseas before their chances in the NHL presented themselves

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - The countdown to the North American arrivals of both Joakim Nygard and Gaëtan Haas began well in advance of their signings with the Oilers.

Nygard had plenty of NHL parties interested in his services prior to scoring 21 goals in 52 games for Farjestad BK last season in the Swedish Hockey League, electing to play out another season to prove to himself he was ready to make the jump.

"Some guys, it works for, and some guys it doesn't work for," Nygard said following his first appearance in Oilers silks at an informal skate on Tuesday. "I'm going to give it a shot. It feels good. It feels good in my body, I had a good summer behind me and I'm just going to do my best here and hopefully make the team."

The 26-year-old had the entire off-season to consult his former Farjestad and now Oilers teammate Oscar Klefbom on the rigours of adapting to the NHL when training at home in Karlstad, Sweden, with the latter characterizing Nygard as a player the Oilers "really need in the team right now" thanks to his explosive speed and goalscoring prowess in's Roster Reboot series back in August. 

"Most advice is just to be yourself," Nygard said. "Don't put yourself in the shadow. Give it your best, don't be afraid and do what you can."

In addition to arriving in Edmonton for the first time will be the added task of moving his newly-expanded family to North America after the birth of his first child in June.

"That's a big experience. It's a privilege to be a father," he said. "It's been tough to leave him at home but they're coming over here in like one month. I think it's good I'm coming here alone to meet the guys and get to know everything. It's going to be really fun."

For Haas, the opportunity was written in the fine print. 

The forward garnered attention in North America, but saw out his contract with SC Bern of the Swiss National League before leaving himself the option of exploring opportunity overseas in his contract when he re-upped the next year, eventually helping the club win its 16th championship before signing a one-year pact with the Oilers on July 1.

"I got the opportunity last year, but I was in my contract and couldn't come here,' Haas said. "So then I re-signed with Bern for one more year, but then I put an out-clause inside. So I knew when I got the opportunity again, I could take it.

"Then I had a couple of teams interested in me. The Oilers were the last team to come to me, and right away when I talked to [Oilers GM & Pres. of Hockey Ops] Ken Holland and [Head Coach] Dave Tippett on the phone I had a really good feeling. That's why I'm here, and I'm really excited to be here."

Haas left himself plenty of runway for settling into Edmonton after discussing with Holland the best route to arrival.

"We talked together and said it was better to not come for five days then go back to Switzerland, so I came on the 20th or 21st of August. The last two weeks there were not a lot of players here in the city, so I just went on alone."

"I've been [skating] almost every day. Just the weekends I took off, so I don't know how many times for sure but about 10 or 12 times."

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