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FUTURE WATCH: Size a constant among Oilers prospective blueliners

"It's not always the case, but the defence here are big and I think it shows what the Edmonton Oilers want," said 2018 first-rounder Evan Bouchard

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - If there was one constant shared between the defencemen that attended Oilers Development Camp, it was height.

All eight rearguards that participated in the annual event stood 6-feet or taller without skates on.

But most hover above that. 

Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov and Caleb Jones all see eye-to-eye from their 6-foot-2 standpoint, while Phil Kemp and Matthew Cairns do the same at their 6-foot-3 scale. Bakersfield Condors defender Logan Day is the shortest of the bunch, coming in at 6-foot-0. 

Oilers 2018 sixth-round selection Michael Kesselring edges over all aforementioned by way of a 6-foot-4 (and a half) measurement.

And then there's Providence College blueliner Vincent Desharnais, who looks down on the world from his 6-foot-7 perch.

"He's a monster," said Kemp.

Desharnais' scale, spurt and style showed each ice slot. Kemp and Co. looked to absorb as much as they could from the 22-year-old, who grew two inches since being drafted 183rd-overall in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"He's an experienced player going into his senior year in college," Kemp, the Yale University defenceman, added. "I just want to learn as much as I can from him. His stick positioning, his body positioning, how he goes into corners and comes out of corners is what I look at when he's on the ice. You try to pick up the little things and make yourself better."

Over the past few years at the Draft, the Oilers have targeted size. The last two selections to be chosen under 6-foot-0 were Jones and Ethan Bear in 2015, when both players were listed at 5-foot-11.

Kesselring knows he'll continue developing physically. Having fellow rearguards undergo the same evolution has helped him.

"He knew I was going to be a late bloomer because he was kind of a late bloomer himself," Kesselring said of his father, Casey. 

"But it's good to see other guys like that. I know I'm a little younger than some of the other kids here. They talked about how they developed over the years and stuff."

Unbeknown of what they will become, the Oilers defence tangent know they share a similar mould. 

"I think it shows that defence are usually a lot bigger," said Bouchard. 

"And I think it shows what the Edmonton Oilers want."

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