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MAIN CAMP: Jurco aims to restore NHL status after Calder Cup feat

Tomas Jurco is working to return to full-time NHL status this season with the Oilers after making the most of an injury-limited season in '18-19 with an AHL Championship

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - No bad days when you're where you want to be.

Tomas Jurco is relishing being back in the saddle for an NHL training camp with the Oilers after back surgery limited the Kosice, Slovakia product to a January start and AHL game time last season.

The 26-year-old is one name on an extended list of players with plenty to prove this Oilers Training Camp and competing for a spot on the Oilers opening night roster.

Video: RAW | Tomas Jurco 09.14.19

"There's a lot of guys battling for spots and I'm one of them," Jurco said. "I think it's good for us and good for the organization that there's guys battling for spots. For me personally, I'm excited for it and ready for it."

While the AHL wasn't where he wanted to be last campaign, Jurco still excelled. 

An 18-point postseason campaign with seven goals and 11 assists in 18 games during the Calder Cup Playoffs with the Charlotte Checkers was rewarded with hardware - his second AHL Championship after winning the title with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2013 in the Detroit Red Wings system under Ken Holland and alongside now-teammate Riley Sheahan. 

"I was fortunate to be in a really good team last year after a tough first half when I didn't play after the surgery, so I came back in January and got lucky when I went to Charlotte," he said.

 "We had a great team and we won, so I think it's really important for me as well. Winning always helps, and it happened to me early in my pro career with Grand Rapids. It helped the next couple of years in the NHL, so hopefully going to be the same thing and it'll help me feel better."

Restoring that Holland connection this off-season was a big draw for Jurco, who's working to restore his full-time NHL status after last appearing in 29 games for the Chicago Blackhawks in '17-18, notching 10 points (6G, 4A) in the process.

"It was really important," Jurco said of the draw of working under Holland. "Ken drafted me in 2011 and he had me for a few years in Detroit. He knew me and I knew him, so it helped a lot to make this decision simple for me."

Jurco's beginning the climb by being one of the hardest workers at Camp and channelling the good vibes that for him goes hand-in-hand with positive, consistent play.

"Just work hard every day. Be consistent," he said. "That's the thing I'm going to try to do to be better. I'm always working hard, but not always is it the best day for me. I'm really going to try to have that best day every day. We'll see, but I'm ready for it."

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