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DEV CAMP: Howson assesses Development Camp attendees

Oilers VP of Player Development Scott Howson provides an assessment of the state of the prospect pool

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers VP of Player Development Scott Howson kicked off this year's Development Camp by speaking to the media while the prospects underwent physical testing.

Howson shared his comments on the prospect pool, assessing the skaters that have been invited to Edmonton for the Oilers development event as well as others that couldn't make it.

See Howson's comments below.

Video: DEV CAMP | Scott Howson

On defenceman Evan Bouchard and forward Ryan McLeod:

"Evan had a very good year in London. Went to the World Juniors, which is what we expected him to do and had a good playoff with London. Then he got a good experience with Bakersfield, which was great and which Ryan McLeod did, too. I think those little steps are very important. They got a taste, now, of pro hockey at a high level. Those games that they participated in against Colorado and San Diego were very, very, good and hard games. They both took steps. Ryan got traded mid-season to Saginaw and had a great playoff run with Saginaw. So, we'll all be watching and see where they go in the big summer ahead of them and then it all starts for real in the Fall."

Video: DEV CAMP | Evan Bouchard

On defenceman Dmitri Samorukov:

"What he did in the second half, I didn't expect it. It seems like they traded a player out of Guelph named Ryan Merkley, who was taking a lot of the power play time at the defensive spot. We all saw Dmitri have a really strong World Juniors and he just took off from there. He became a dominant player. That's how I would characterize him as in the second half and playoffs. It was a little bit surprising. The offence I didn't see coming this quickly, and that's not what we're going to be looking for necessarily next year, that he's going to be a dominant offensive player, but he's got it in him. He proved it."

"I see him as a two-way player. In our progression since we've drafted him, we asked him to really concentrate on being a good defender. He did that. He bought into that. Eventually, he bought into that. It took a while but he said, 'OK if I defend well, that's going to get me to the next level and keep me there.' But the offence came right after that. It's often how I think it works in life, you forget about the one thing that you're worried about and then it comes later on. It just came to him. We're really pleased with his progress."

Video: DEV CAMP | Dmitri Samorukov

On 2019 eighth-overall selection Philip Broberg:

"I think it's premature to think about that (whether Broberg will play in Sweden or North America next year) right now. We've talked to him about it. For me, the first thing that has to happen is the player has to want to come over. He has to be open to it because I think if you force a European player that's not mentally ready or mentally focused on coming over, it's not going to work. Well, the good news is Philip is open to it and he's willing to discuss it. We're going to have that discussion with him throughout the summer and we'll probably have to come to a decision here in the next month or so. He'll be at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, MI, with the World Junior and I would think we'll have a decision here in the next little while."

"Philip is practicing with the men's team in Skelleftea. A great program playing with men. The caveat there is you don't know how much he's going to play. They can tell him he's going to play 20 minutes a game or 18 minutes a game against men but it's pro hockey in Sweden so you can't guarantee that. We do know if he comes to Hamilton he's going to play lots of hockey."

Video: DEV CAMP | Philip Broberg

On Oilers 2019 third-round goaltender Ilya Konovalov:

"He had a flight out at six o'clock (after the NHL Draft) and he had to get back and start training. It just became too complicated. He didn't have his equipment here. So, it just became too complicated to stay (for Development Camp) and participate."

On how the Oilers management impact prospect development while players are with their club team:

"You're always in communication with the coach to make sure the message is the same. Most of the coaches are really sincere and interested in hearing what the NHL team's message is. So, you're consistent. I've never had an issue in the two years I've been doing it. I've never had an issue with a coach, or us telling something different to a player trying to override a coach. It doesn't always go how everybody wants it to go and you've got to deal with those issues but as far as the consistent messaging, it's never been a problem."

Video: DEV CAMP | Tomas Mazura

How management operates the development with their prospects:

"We go through, we sit down before the season, and we go through exactly where the player thinks his game is, where we think his game is and where he has to improve. We usually give him two or three things to improve upon. And we're talking about that constantly.

"For Evan (Bouchard), it was retrievals. We wanted him to get back quicker to the puck and we wanted him to become better in battles. Those were the things he had to work on and he did. He became better. He certainly became better in battles. I was impressed with his physical ability to push people off the puck - because he's a skilled player, right, we notice him when he has the puck - but he did a lot of good things without the puck last year."

On the two Development Camp invites Leon Huttl and Taylor Ward:

"The German player was a call to us. I don't think it had anything to do with Leon (Draisaitl). It was a call to us that we thought was a good idea to bring him in. And Ward was just a player at Nebraska-Omaha that we liked that we wanted to bring in and have a look at. But we wanted to keep it smaller. We've got 21 players here. Some teams bring in 40-45 with a lot of free agents. We just didn't want to do that for this Camp."

Video: THE DRILL | E12: Philip Broberg

On defenceman Michael Kesselring:

"He's going to Northeastern (of the NCAA). He was in the USHL last year, got traded, and ended up in Fargo, which was a very good experience for him. His game took off and now he's going to Northeastern. It's going to be a challenge for Michael to make sure he's one of the top six in Northeastern. It's a very good program now."

On unsigned prospects Vincent Desharnais and Hayden Hawkey: 

"We're still talking about that (signing him to a contract). We're in discussions with his (Desharnais') agent about what we want to do. Hawkey, we're not going to sign and we've informed him that. We have too many goalies. He had a good year but we just don't have the spot and the contract space to give him an NHL contract."

On Matej Blumel and Tomas Mazura, who are best friends:

"I phoned Blumel and he was in the Czech Republic. I told him he had been drafted and he already knew of course. This was about a half hour after the pick. He said, 'Yeah, I'm with all my friends,' and I sort of threw it out, 'Well, do you want to come to Development Camp?' and he said, 'Yes, get me on a plane right away.' Then I phoned Mazura an hour later and he was the same way. I was delighted. They both said, 'Yes, I want to come right away, right now, get me on a plane.'

On goalies Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells:

"It's a balancing act (sharing the net). Shane (Starrett) took a step this year and became a No. 1 goalie in the AHL. We knew that the other two would rotate going in and you want to get them playing, so they played a lot in Wichita but you don't want one guy sitting in Bakersfield. So, it was a rotation. I'm not sure how it's going to work next year. It may be the same type of thing."

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