NEW ADDITIONS Following a back-to-back road swing in which the Oilers halved success vs. Minnesota and Vancouver, the team returned home, closing the 2011 pre-season schedule.
Head Coach Tom Renney and General Manager Steve Tambellini went to work right away, cutting the Oilers’ roster down to 27 players on Sunday evening.
IN AND OUT
Among those who were assigned, six-year veteran Gilbert Brule was put on waivers. The 24-year-old centre will report to the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons on Tuesday at 10:00am, assuming he goes unclaimed by another NHL club.
Tambellini spoke with 630 CHED’s Dan Tencer on Sunday, commenting on the method behind Brule’s assignment and what Anton Lander did during camp to earn his role.
“[Brule was] competing for the bottom six part of our hockey club,” he said. “We need him to play some minutes, we need him to play some quality minutes; power-play, penalty killing and playing with high-end offensive players.
“These are important situations to help get his game back.
“Right now Tom (Renney) is looking for certain things.”
Lander, 21, scored two goals and four points in four pre-season contests, which was good enough for fourth-best on the team, behind only Taylor Hall, Linus Omark, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Through hard work, passion and the desire to crack this year’s squad, Lander made an immediate impression.
“When I was working out this summer, my goal was to make the team,” he said. “I worked hard this summer and there are still a few more days to work. It's hard work to make the team, but I’ve been excited the entire time.
“You have to believe in your ability. If you don't do that, you miss a lot. I'm really happy about this year.”
Tambellini agreed, adding that Lander has shown more than Brule in camp, which includes several, high-quality NHL-ready attributes.
“Anton Lander is here right now and he's probably been one of our top forwards, I'd say, for the last couple pre-season games,” he said.” He's used to killing penalties and his faceoffs are pretty good at the NHL level right now. I think the coaches feel as though he's more equipped to handle what they need him to do.”
“He's made it so far,” Renney added. “It's a long season and anything can happen. He's a good teammate, he understands the game, has a hockey IQ that I'd suggest is very good.”
ON THE BLUELINE
It was a costly road trip for the Oilers, losing three blueliners in the team’s 4-3 shootout win over the Wild: Taylor Chorney, Ladislav Smid and, of course, Taylor Fedun in a scary incident that has likely charged the 23-year-old his season.
Under extreme circumstances, new opportunities arose. Jeff Petry, who played in 35 games last season, has made the club to start the 2011-12 campaign in Edmonton.
“It's good to start up here,” he said. “You can't ever let up, you've got to keep working day-in and day-out to prove your worth. I know it will be a tough task to stay up here, but I’m working hard and making sure that I’m doing what I need to do to be here the entire year. It's going to be a challenge, but I'm ready.
“I was working hard and battling to earn that one spot,” added. “To be here and to be in the opening night lineup is awesome. I hope I've proved to the coaches that I deserve to be here. As each day goes on, I'll continue go grow, get better and do my best for the team.”
Petry recorded a goal and four assists with the big club last season, adding 24 points with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons before getting called up late in 2010-11.
It was a solid steppingstone, but Petry’s camp experience has helped him improve leaps and bounds over last season.
“It's improved a lot since Day 1,” he said. “Each day on the ice you feel better, so I've got to continue to do that throughout the year and especially over the next couple weeks. It’s an important stretch to make sure I’m maintaining a high level.”
Jul. 1 free agent signee Corey Potter has also cracked the lineup. He played well throughout camp and starred in the pre-season with his dedicated, two-way style. Backend circumstances helped him secure a role, but Potter is thrilled nonetheless.
“We've still got nine [defencemen] here, so I've still got a lot of work ahead of me to make this squad.
“I think the pre-season went pretty good. I used my experience; I've been around for a while. I tried to stay calm and I think I stuck to my game-plan and played pretty well.”
Following practice, the Oilers bussed to Jasper, AB where the team will spend three days bonding and practicing in preparation for next Sunday’s home- and season-opener vs. Pittsburgh.
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