It was a hard day.
As NHL teams made the rounds with their selections for the 2015 draft, and player names were called out one-by-one, Tyler Soy, was crushed when his name wasn’t one of them.
But all is not lost for the WHL Victoria Royals centre.
Soy — who’s known for his raw, competitive drive — is embarking on a new journey and joins a slew of impressive individuals for the 2015 Oilers Rookie Camp.
“You know, when draft day came and went it was a tough day not being selected — it’s something you dream about — but for the Oilers to approach me and invite me to camp it was like the next best thing. It’s a great opportunity and I’m very excited to be here,” said Soy.
The six-foot-one centre, who has a knack for creating space when puck-handling, has been focused on shaping his game.
“I’m more of a two-way centre,” he said.
“I’m not the biggest guy so you wouldn’t say I’m the most physical, but you know I try to use my body and position myself to protect the puck or strip the puck from someone else — you know, more of a playmaking kind of guy. I think I use my vision well and set up my linemates, and I think I’ve got a bit of a goodie scoring touch in and around the net.”
Having participated in the Draft Combine in June and ranked number 78 on the 2015 NHL draft prospects list, it was a surprise to not hear the 18-year-old’s name called out, something that former Royals teammate Greg Chase feels was an opportunity missed.
“Right from the beginning when I got traded to Victoria he was my linemate, I don’t think there was a game where we didn’t play together,” said Chase.
“You know, I thought him not getting drafted or picked was a mistake by 30 NHL teams, he’s an awesome hockey player and personally I love playing with him.”
LIKE TWO PEAS IN A POD
Reunited for the Oilers Rookie Camp, Chase and Soy are no strangers to one another.
In 2014 the Royals acquired Chase from the Calgary Hitmen.
Soy, who had been drafted by the Royals a year prior, had an instant connection with Chase on the ice.
“He definitely made things a lot easier for me,” said Soy.
“He’s a very skilled forward and he’s extremely fast so I knew that if I could get Greg the puck, and if I got open, then he’d get me the puck back. We’ve made some pretty spectacular plays, and you know, I’ve had a lot of fun playing with him.”
Chase, who was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh round, 188th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, is looking forward to re-connecting with Soy.
“I was excited when he got the opportunity to come to Edmonton’s camp in the summer. Then when he told me he got invited again to this camp I was excited for him and [it means that] maybe I get a chance to play with him one more time,” said Chase.
The two forwards are excited to reconnect and are poised for the opportunity to make a little more magic together on the ice.
“That’ll be pretty special,” said Soy.
“Ever since Greg came back to Victoria last year, we connected and we had some great chemistry right off the bat and we finished the year together. So to be able to come here and get a chance to play with him again it’ll be pretty spectacular and I’m very excited.”
EMBRACING THE CAMP EXPERIENCE
Chase, calm and collected, is well versed with the protocols of Oilers Rookie Camp and is ready to step-up and help out where needed.
“It’s my third camp here so, I guess I kind of know what to expect and can kind of be that leader for the guys that haven’t been here before. I can kind of show them the ropes a little bit so I’m excited to be a part of that,” he said.
For Soy, there is a twinkle of excitement in the young centres eye.
“I think playing some of the games in Penticton will be pretty special,” said Soy.
“I mean, as a kid I’ve gone up there and watched some of the games, some old teammates of mine will be playing and then obviously some pretty special players, like Connor [McDavid], will be playing, so it’ll be a pretty cool experience all around.”
Everything is bright and shiny and new — but Soy certainly isn’t about to take this opportunity for granted. He’s ready to prove why he was invited to Rookie Camp in the first place, preparing mentally for the task at hand and talking with Chase, who has been a steady source of reference for him.
“He asked me a couple questions before camp, you know, what to expect, and I think in that situation you’ve just got to help those guys out and be positive,” said Chase.
“It’s a grind, this training camp is a grind — especially the start of it — and we all look forward to it. I know we’re all looking forward to getting on the plane and going to Penticton. I gave him some advice and I think he’s going to take it well. He’s a smart kid and he works hard, so he’ll be fine.”
Though two years Soy’s senior, Chase is also embracing what this camp will hold for him and all the rookies.
“I think the biggest thing I’m looking forward to is being a part of the group of guys that we have,” said Chase.
“We have a really good group of guys that I kind of, I guess, grew up with coming up through the system. Whether it was Darnell or Joey LaLeggia, Leon, we’ve all kind of been together for a couple years now and it’s exciting to kind of see. This might be all our last rookie camp so it’s going to be exciting to see what the final product is.”