EDMONTON, AB - Ostap Safin is entering Oilers Rookie Camp with a chip on his shoulder.
That's not a cliché, as the Oilers 2017 fourth rounder's right shoulder protrudes unlike his left, stemming from a shoulder injury he sustained in the 2018-19 season.
The left-shot right-winger was limited to 15 regular season games with the Halifax Mooseheads last year but managed to score three goals and 11 points. He was healthy enough to get back up and running for Halifax's playoff and Memorial Cup runs, as the club lost in the QMJHL Finals but hosted the perennial Canadian Hockey League best-on-best tournament after.
Despite the physical bump, the Czech is fully healthy and driven to return to form in the upcoming campaign.
"It was a mentally hard season to get through the injuries," said the winger at Day 2 of Rookie Camp. "I was kind of frustrated. First, it was a one-month layoff then three months. It was bad.
"But now it's in the past so I want to move on."
Video: ROOKIE CAMP | Safin 09.06.19
Move on and move up to the pro ranks, where Safin is expected to compete in '19-20. His main goal is to remain in the lineup without ailments or injuries keeping him out.
"I want to stay healthy. That's 100 percent my goal right now," Safin, who had a strong '17-18 season with the Saint John Sea Dogs when he scored 26 goals and 58 points in 61 outings, said.
"I was born to play hockey. This is my game and I love to play hockey. When you're not playing and you're watching the guys playing and cheering for them, it's hard."
Bakersfield Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft is getting better acquainted with Safin at the 2019 edition of Oilers Rookie Camp. In 2018, Safin was unable to participate for most sessions due to injury.
The Condors coach believes Safin has all the tools to be a solid forward and is now in the right frame of mind to make it happen.
Video: ROOKIE CAMP | Woodcroft 09.06.19
"When you look at him as a player, he's got size and a level of skill," said Woodcroft.
"Any time a player has been injured and they're fully recovered, you've got to feel good about the daily opportunity to show what you got. He's in a good headspace for that."
With his head on his shoulders, Safin's simply looking to getting back to playing the game he loves at the highest level possible.
"Right now, I'm 100 percent," he said. "It's not easy but I'll battle through everything."