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DEV CAMP: Woodcroft stressing development, not evaluation at Dev Camp

"It's not an evaluation camp… It's a development camp so that they can work on their personal games," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - It's called Oilers Development Camp, not Oilers Evaluation Camp.

And although many of the prospects are trying to make their best first impressions, while others are slated to make a jump to the professional ranks next season, Bakersfield Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft is more concerned with growing the ability of a player rather than assessing it.

"It's not an evaluation camp," Woodcroft, who signed a contract extension with the Condors just two weeks ago, started. 

"There's no pressure to come in and go 100 miles an hour and out-compete someone. It's a development camp so that they can work on their personal games."

Naturally, players want to give their all but Woodcroft doubled down on his comments, saying that Development Camp is an opportunity for the future Oilers to get to know the franchise, the city and the team personnel.

"It's for them to develop relationships within the organization," Woodcroft, who coached the Condors to a 42-21-3-2 record in the '18-19 campaign, continued. 

"That doesn't just mean the head coach of the American Hockey League team. It means the head coach of the National Hockey League team. Both coaching staffs are here. The ability to get familiar and comfortable around our strength & conditioning staff, our training staff, our equipment staff. 

Video: DEV CAMP | Jay Woodcroft

"It's an orientation into how the Edmonton Oilers do business and how our players are treated, how much they're valued, not only by our organization but also by the city."

That's not to say Woodcroft hasn't come away impressed with the 21 players invited to this edition of the event. The bench boss conducted some of the on-ice sessions, getting the players familiar with his patented "Move!" shout while working with 2019 draft picks Philip Broberg, Rapheal Lavoie, Matej Blumel and Tomas Mazura. 

He's also been able to continue his relationship with players such as Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod - who made their Condors debuts in the playoffs - as well as Dmitri Samorukov, who is expected to make the move to the American Hockey League in 2019-20.

"I think the future is very bright for our organization," Woodcroft said. "There are some good, young players that we got to see with our staff down in Bakersfield during last season. Some guys that had career years and took positive steps forward in their personal careers. I think that bodes well for our organizations, especially when they play deep in the playoffs the way they did. 

"In terms of some of the new blood that came in through the draft and some of the invites that are here this week, impressive. An impressive group of individuals. We've encouraged them to get out of their comfort zones and really embrace what's being taught here on the ice, off the ice, to ask a lot of questions and make sure that they're using all the resources of our organization."

Now that the Billy Moores Cup is complete - with the trophy going to Team Blue - Woodcroft was happy to see another successful Oilers Development Camp - not evaluation camp - come and go.

"I can tell you that the spirit of the camp has been excellent and it's a good, small group of young men to work with. It's been really positive."

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