SAN ANTONIO, Tex. - Fresh off his longest stint in Oilers silks since the 2010-11 season, Chris VandeVelde is feeling good about his game.
The 25-year-old began the abbreviated 2012-13 NHL campaign with the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons, but was recalled on Feb. 8. He was assigned back to OKC on Feb. 10, but was recalled again two days later after the Oilers lost another centre to the ill-timed injury bug.
In 11 NHL games this season, VandeVelde has averaged 7:02 in ice time and has recorded seven shots on goal.
"It was a good opportunity for me to get up there and get some games in," he said. "It went well. I had limited ice time, but it's to be expected with all the guys coming back (from injury). I played my role and whenever I got on the ice, I did the best I could."
VandeVelde has since returned to the Barons, where he's been slotted back into Bottom 6 role alongside veterans Josh Green and Dane Byers. In a predominantly defensive capacity in which he's counted upon to play big minutes on the penalty kill, VandeVelde has collected a pair of goals and eight assists in 41 games with the Barons this season.
"Obviously the pace is a little quicker (in the NHL), but there are skilled guys down here, too," said VandeVelde. "It's a fast pace in this league."
"I went out, played a simple game and felt good."
VandeVelde, a fourth-round draft pick in 2005, has now played 28 career games with the Oilers. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound pivot picked up his first-career NHL goal last March in a 6-3 over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"Both coaches (Ralph Krueger in Edmonton and Todd Nelson in Oklahoma City) have done well in telling me where I stand and what I need to do," said VandeVelde. "I need to play solid, be a good penalty-killer, be good on draws and be tough to play against. That's what I'm working on and if I can continue to grow on those areas, hopefully I can stay up there."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick