Monday, July 12, 2010

One on One: Oiler Prospects and Invites

Last week the Edmonton Oilers held their annual orientation camp for their prospects and a smattering of un-drafted free agent invitees. As you would expect, The Pipeline Show was there and spoke with a number of players taking part in the 4-day sessions.

On Tuesday, defenceman Troy Hesketh and forward Tyler Pitlick came in studio for an extended 1-hour interview during which the two players answered submitted fan questions.

You would have also heard several one on one interviews that I had with players during Sports Night with Corey Graham and Wil Fraser which airs live from 9-Midnight, Mon-Fri on the TEAM 1260.

Here is what you may have missed...

Troy Hesketh answered questions from Oilers and Wisconsin Badgers fans who wanted to know more about his style of play and whether the door was open for him to hit the NCAA this year because of the early exits of 3 starting Badgers. The Minnesota native also talked about the differences from this version of prospect camp compared to last year, especially when it came to the fans.

The un-ranked (by Central Scouting) prospect was a surprise 3rd round selection in 2009 and Hesketh talked about that too. (Photo: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers)

Joining Hesketh in studio was newly drafted future Oiler Tyler Pitlick. The former NCAA forward explained again why he left Minnesota State-Mankato and confirmed that his poor academic performance played a major role in his decision to leave for the WHL. Pitlick looked ahead to his season with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Both players spoke about Minnesota High School hockey, their head-to-head match up at that level and also about the importance of the Elite League. Finally, we had to ask about another famous Minnesota product: Prince, and that opened up the door to a lot more.

You can hear the in-studio special from The Pipeline Show by visiting our archives HERE.

At Clareview Arena the first player I spoke with was former North Dakota forward Chris Vande Velde. The power forward touched on his very short stint in the AHL to close out last season and what he took away from that experience. Vande Velde then looked ahead to the new year and the start of his professional career and what might be his key to cracking the NHL roster. You can hear that conversation HERE.

Next up was WHL tough guy Cameron Abney whose beefed up form was evidenced in his neck which looked not unlike a tree trunk that had clearly added a few rings to it. Abney reflected on a tough year with the Oil Kings and stated what his lofty statistical goals are for the 2010-11 season. I still find it hard to justify using a 3rd round pick on him but I know that I'm looking forward to seeing him in action this year in the WHL. My talk with "Bam-Bam" Cam Abney can be heard here. (Photo: Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oil Kings)

Did you know that Milan Kytnar was a smoker until a year ago? Believe it or not, it's true although he's "toned it down" to the even more disgusting chewing tobacco usage that is popular with so many players these days.

Kytnar began out conversation talking about the move from Saskatoon to Vancouver and his year with the Giants where injuries impacted his year. We continued to touch on having been sent back to the WHL even though he had signed his entry level deal last year and could have played in the AHL. What does Kytnar think is the trait that will get him to the NHL? We cover that too. Hear that discussion here.

Defenceman Jeff Petry left Michigan State after his junior year and we talked about the difficulty of making that choice and whether he felt those he left behind would feel abandoned. The talented blueliner, who was head and shoulders above most players in this particular camp, talked about his short run with the Springfield Falcons and why his minus-10 rating doesn't mean much to him. Petry also looked ahead to his rookie year. That's a conversation that you can hear by clicking here.

Finish forward Toni Rajala explained when and why he was returning to Finland to complete his military commitment. He also told me that Taylor Hall wasn't rubbing in the two Memorial Cup tournament beatings that Windsor handed Brandon. Unfortunately, you can't hear those parts because of defect with my recorder. (And by defect I mean that I apparently hit stop a couple of minutes into the interview). You can hear Rajala talk about his year in the WHL though; getting used to life in Canada away from the rink and on the long bus trips. Here the abbreviated interview with Rajala HERE. As everyone knows now, Rajala has returned to Finland for the coming season.

Netminder Olivier Roy talked about ending the year in the AHL as well as getting traded from Cape Breton to Acadie-Bathurst with a few hours spent in between as a member of the Lewiston Maineiacs. We also talked about the upcoming camp for Hockey Canada where he'll enter as a favorite to win the starter's job for the 2011 WJC in Buffalo. I also asked Roy to give us a scouting report on Jeremie Blain who will be a teammate of his with the Titans. You can hear what Roy had to say by clicking HERE.

I also chatted with two of the non-Oiler properties that were involved in the camp beginning with Mike Connolly. The former AJHL star has two years under his belt at Duluth and we covered all the bases for his success with the Bulldgos as well as that connection between his current team and his previous league. Connolly reflected on not getting drafted and why, in the long run, that's probably going to work in his favor. We ended talking about the new building that Duluth will play in this coming year. Hear what the former Camrose Kodiak star said on all subject by clicking here.

Lastly, Connor Jones and I talked about him being like an unofficial Oiler prospect because his twin brother was drafted by the team. The skilled forward is headed to the Quinnipiac Bobcats but looked back on his stellar BCHL career which included a pair of RBC Cup wins with the Vernon Vipers. Plus, is his brother giving him the gears because he was drafted? Hear what Connor Jones said about that and more by clicking here.

In last couple of months we also spoke with two other players who would go on to become Oilers just a few weeks later. Curtis Hamilton appeared on The Pipeline Show on June 1st and then we caught up to him at his home just minutes after Edmonton chose him in the second round at the draft in LA on June 26th.

Prior to that we spoke with Ryan Martindale of the Ottawa 67's. That conversation took place on April 20th just after his team was eliminated from the OHL playoffs. Go back in time and hear what the big forward had to say before he was drafted by Edmonton.

- A good week - those who were expected to impress (Hall, MPS, Eberle and Petry) did exactly that.

- Martin Marincin stood out because of his size. He'll be an imposing player for the new-look Prince George Cougars this year. Tough to tell in a camp like this if he has a mean streak, I certainly hope he does.

- Tyler Pitlick's shot caught the attention of a lot of onlookers and bloggers including mine. He's also pretty big by visual comparison despite being one of the younger guys on the ice. He's got a bullet of a snap shot and can get it away in a flash.

- How about a nod to the fans who came out and filled Clareview Arena for four straight days? The Oilers would be wise to use a bigger facility next year such as the Servus Place in St. Albert. The 2000-seat rink would provide plenty of seating and better sight lines for everyone.

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