Sherwood Park, AB - At 6'5" and 190 pounds, Martin Marincin is impossible to miss.
The 20-year-old is quite literally a monstrous presence among his peers, but it's his ability with the puck 77 inches south that's most impressive. In 2011-12 split between the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats, Marincin collected 11 goals and 40 points in 58 regular-season games.
Highlighting his overage season was an appearance at the 2012 World Junior Championship in Calgary, where he was the leading scorer among Oilers prospects with one goal, three points and a +2 rating in six games.
"I think I had a pretty good season -- and improvement over the last one, which is good," he said. "I worked hard and will keep working hard here [at Development Camp] to make an impression on the coaches so I can get closer to playing for the Oilers."
When Marincin's season came to a close, he was assigned to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons where he got to play a little, practice a lot, and experience the club's deep post-season. In total, he appeared in six regular-season games, notching an assist and a +4 rating.
Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson, who's keeping a close eye on all the prospects at camp this week, was impressed with Marincin's composure. And it didn't come as too much of a surprise, considering he coached the Slovak at this past September's Young Stars Tournament in Penticton.
He was also prepared to slot him into the lineup during the post-season if he needed to.
"Excellent. He looked really good [with us in OKC]," Nelson said. "He has a very hard shot and his one-timer is very impressive. He sees the ice well and moves the puck well.
"He's very strong in his own end as well. He's so big and lanky that he has great reach and can use his stick very well. In today's game, having a good stick on the puck is very important. He's very well-rounded."
"It was a great experience for me," Marincin added. "I learned a lot and got to play with some older guys. It showed me that I have to keep getting better and I need to get stronger to make it full-time -- but I'm working at it and this camp is good."
Just he did in Penticton, Marincin orchestrated some high-risk, high-reward plays that ultimately showed the talent and creativity that earned his 46th overall selection in 2010. It's something the coaches like, but want quelled if a simpler play will do.
"He caught our attention last year when he tried a backhand spin-o-rama right in front of the net," Nelson laughed. "That's the thing that we have to be careful of. We want creativity and we want confidence, but if you try to do too much, that's when you get in trouble.
"He was excellent early on in OKC because he was keeping it simple and was moving the puck real well. Then he started getting some more confidence and started trying those things, so we had to scale him back and tell him that less is more. For a younger guy, sometimes it's hard to comprehend that."
Under the circumstances, it's right to assume that Marincin will be a full-time Baron next season. That's A-OK by Nelson, who's eager to continue the Kosice native's development en route to the show in Edmonton.
Mastering the physical game is next on the checklist.
"I hope he does [fill out]," Nelson said, noting that in a one-game stint with the Barons to end 2010-11, Marincin was challenged in the corners. That's no longer an issue.
"He wasn't this year. He's maturing as a hockey player, and that comes with age and experience. If he's with us next year, he's going to have a very strong season. The American Hockey League is a great training ground.
"You don't have to rush guys to the NHL. Sometimes teams rush guys because they want to get better. But right now we're (the Oilers) in a situation where the second wave -- it might take them more time to mature. We're happy with letting Marty develop at his own rate, because he's such a valuable piece to this organization."
"I need to be more physical," Marincin agreed. "I need to be stronger -- and when I do that, I know I can play at a high level in the NHL one day.
For now, Marincin is making the most of his opportunity at Development Camp. Not only is he developing his skill on the ice, but he's also building lifelong friendships with future teammates. It's all part of the process in becoming an Oiler.
"It's been a busy week with a lot of practice and workouts, but it's been great. I love the group here, we're doing good things and it's been great for my development and the team's. It's been a great time."