Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oilers Pleased With Pelss

7th round picks are like a shot in the dark; every once in a blue moon you hit something but more often than not... you whiff.

Apparently the Edmonton Oilers like what they've seen so far from one of their two 2010 7th round picks. In fact they like him enough that The Pipeline Show has learned that Kristians Pelss received a contract offer from the Oilers as recently as yesterday.

Pelss was selected 181st overall last June and he was drafted again a couple of weeks later, that time by the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. The native of Preili, Latvia joined the club and looked very impressive during training camp. The start to the regular season didn't go nearly as smoothly though as the right winger only managed two points through the first 16 games.

He started to find his groove near the end of November. Maybe it was that he could smell the Divison I World Junior Championship around the corner but Pelss really picked up his game and started to produce. This was at the time that the entire team really came alive so it stands to reason that his success began then too.

Pelss found chemistry with Michael St. Croix and T.J. Foster. He had 6 points in 5 games before leaving to go overseas and when he came back he picked up right where he left off. By the end of January he'd increased his point total to 19 but his performance on the ice, even when not scoring, was getting to be impressive.

The final stretch was arguably his best as in the last 12 games he rattled off 13 points. Pelss finished the regular season with 33 points, 6th on the team in scoring which is remarkable considering how slow the production came for him early on.

A source has told me that the Oilers hope to have a contract completed with Pelss in the coming week.

News & Notes:

The Oil Kings had their spring camp last week. Unfortunately I was unable to attend as I was out of town for a funeral. However, I've heard a few interesting things.

- How's this for a youngster who is already acting like a seasoned vet? According to play-by-play man Corey Graham, Curtis Lazar was sending texts to each of the players the Oil Kings selected during the league's Bantam draft, welcoming them to the organization. Yeah... that's a guy who turned 16-years-old in February. Talk about leadership and future captain material.

- Speaking of Corey Graham, he's of the opinion that netminder Laurent Brossoit is going to blow the doors off the NHL combine this weekend. Apparently the goalie has been in the gym pretty much since the Kings were eliminated from the playoffs and has been scoring high marks in the fitness testing he's been doing as prep for the combine.

- Head Equipment Manager Rogan Dean told me recently that Mason Geertsen's work ethic in the gym is quite apparent. The term "beast" was used to describe the 2010 1st round pick who fans should slot now into the 2011-12 starting line up.

- Newcomers Riley Simpson and Brandon Baddock impressed. Baddock was a 7th round pick in the 2010 draft who played in Lloydminster last season. The 6'4 forward would add some much needed size to Edmonton's forward group. Simpson is the other son of former Oiler Craig Simpson. Dillon Simpson is eligible for the NHL Draft this year but chose the NCAA route like dad and played at North Dakota. Riley fell to the 6th round in part because of his family's history taking the college path but there appears to be a good chance that he stays to play for Edmonton. It helps that the Oil Kings drafted one of his best friends, Aaron Irving, with their 1st round pick.

(Photos: Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oil Kings, IIHF Images)


Bruce said...

I was pretty impressed with Pelss' progress this year. I wasn't surprised about the slow start - the transition had to be a super tough one - and he started showing his wheels and his tenacity on a regular basis in the second half especially.

Glad to hear the Oilers are happy too, a 7th rounder getting offered a contract with a year of junior eligibility remaining is relatively rare, no?

Thanks for the update.

Guy Flaming said...

I'm sure there will be people who wonder if this means the Oilers will send him to Oklahoma City next year, since they can (drafted outside the CHL).

I'd be stunned though. He's not ready for that. He's ready to take his game to the next level in the WHL though.

Sebastian Svendsen had 56 points last year after 20 in his first WHL season. That's a reasonable target I think... not the AHL.