It was a bright and early wakeup call for the 30 players invited to the Edmonton Oilers Rookie Camp, with those unfortunate enough to have a last name ranging from A-M forced to be at the rink before 8am for medicals and fitness testing. On Day 1, it’s roughly a two-hour process for the players to go through, that includes such activities as: dentist, neuropsychological testing, fitness evaluation, payroll setup and a photo shoot.
Anton Lander takes part in a skating test at this past July's Oilers Development Camp at Millennium Place (Andy Devlin / EOHC).
The team will depart Saturday morning on a team charter to Kelowna, BC for a 12pm skate at Prospera Place, home to the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. After that, it’s a bus to Penticton for the start of the Young Stars tournament that will see them play games against Vancouver (Sunday), Winnipeg (Tuesday) and Calgary (Wednesday).
In his blog on Wednesday, Bob Stauffer identified five players (Nugent-Hopkins, Martindale, Marincin, Roy & Schmidt) that he was eager to watch heading into the tournament. I’d like to add three names to that list of my own, specifically the three players (aside from Nugent-Hopkins) that I believe have the best chance to play some NHL games this season.
First, Swedish centerman Anton Lander. Lander has four years of Swedish Elite League experience under his belt, including two full years since he was drafted by the Oilers in the second round of the 2009 Entry Draft.
Lander was a clear standout at this year’s July Development Camp and word on the street is that he’s had a very productive off-season in terms of building up his body mass and is likely to be at a playing weight of +/- 200 lbs. heading into camp. Depending on the performance of Gilbert Brule at camp, and of course the health and performance status of the team as the year goes on, Lander looks to me to rank in the No. 4 or No. 5 hole at the Oilers’ center ice depth chart. The transition to North America is a big question, however, and we’ll get our first look this weekend.
Next up is another former second round draft choice, and a big contributor to Team Canada at the last World Junior Hockey Championship, Curtis Hamilton. Hamilton is going to start his pro career this season after a four-year stint in Saskatoon of the WHL.
He’s a winger that has excellent size and, hopefully, will grow to thrive in a power forward role. I see him starting the year in the AHL, but he’s certainly got the size and strength to withstand playing against men at the NHL level, and if his offensive numbers in Oklahoma City are up to par, he could situate himself as a top call-up option.
Finally, a former first round selection of the Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Colten Teubert. He’ll be in the hunt along with the likes of Jeff Petry, Taylor Chorney and Corey Potter for a job on the NHL club out of training camp, and already has 85 games of AHL experience under his belt. As a 13th overall pick in 2008, Teubert has the pedigree to be an impact player at the NHL level one day, and though I think it’s doubtful that he makes the team at the start of the year, he could force their hand as the season moves on.
ROOKIE CAMP FAST FACTS
The youngest player at camp is Kamloops Blazers centerman Colin Smith at 18 years, 2 months and 20 days. Smith had 50 points in 72 games in his 3rd WHL season last year and is in camp on an invite as an undrafted player.
The oldest player at camp is former Princeton University defenseman Taylor Fedun at 23 years, 3 months and 5 days. Fedun had 10 goals and 22 points in 29 games for Princeton last year in the ECAC and signed a 2 year deal with the Oilers to turn pro after wrapping up his 4 year stay at the Ivy League institution.
The Oilers have 9 undrafted players attending Rookie Camp. They include: Adam Brown (G), Taylor Fedun (D), Ryan Lowery (D), Tyler Schmidt (D), Wes Vannieuwenhuizen (D), Brett Ferguson (F), Chase Schaber (F), Colin Smith (F) & Antti Tyrvainen (F).
The Oilers have 3 defensemen in Rookie Camp that scored more than 50 points last year in the WHL. Brandon Davidson had 52 for Regina, Tyler Schmidt had 53 for Tri-City & Martin Marincin had 56 for Prince George.
All of the Edmonton Oilers action from the Young Stars Tournament can be heard live on 630 CHED and will be streamed on edmontonoilers.com. Game times for each of the three Oilers outings is 8:30pm Edmonton time and CHED will be on the air 90 minutes prior to puck drop at 7:00pm for the pre-game show.
In addition, Oilers Now (12pm-2pm) and Inside Sports (6pm-9pm) will be broadcast Monday to Wednesday from the South Okanagan Events Center in Penticton.