BLOG: Oilers prospects prepare for rookie camp

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EDMONTON, Alta. – Better, faster, stronger.

That was the common goal echoed by most Oilers prospects Wednesday after fitness testing ahead of Oilers rookie camp and the Young Stars Classic in Penticton. For a group made up of the best and brightest Oilers players ages 18-24 who have yet to become mainstays at the big club, the camp represents an opportunity to show off their literal off-season earnings.

“Yeah, I gained weight for sure,” 2019 Oilers first-round pick Philip Broberg said. “Maybe 12 pounds, something in the corner.”

The 6-foot-3 and previously 203-pound defenseman got his first taste of the National Hockey League last year, playing in 23 regular season games and scoring his first NHL goal on April 28 against the Toronto Sharks. San José. Broberg even gained enough trust from head coach Jay Woodcroft to slip into the lineup for a playoff game in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings.

Broberg’s offensive resume speaks for itself, with 23 points (4G, 19A) in just 31 American Hockey League games last year, so his focus this offseason has turned to becoming a more complete defenseman. .

Video: RAW | Philippe Broberg 14.09.22

“I want to take a step up in my defensive game. I think getting stronger is a big part of that,” Broberg said. “Being able to play strong low and get better at boxing guys. I really pushed to try to get stronger this summer and I’m happy with the results.”

For a player like Xavier Bourgault, who just finished a long season of junior hockey with the Shawinigan Cataractes, which included a QMJHL championship and a Memorial Cup run, the goal of the offseason was entirely to recover in shape. The Oilers’ 2021 first-round pick had just played a total of 63 QMJHL-Memorial Cup games from September 2021 to June 2022.

In response to the difficult season, the product from L’Islet, Que., decided to forgo the World Junior Championships in Edmonton — instead preparing his body for a vital Oilers rookie camp, with all eyes on the big club.

“I think it was the best decision for me in my long-term career. It was better for me to rest and spend my summer in the gym,” Bourgault said of the decision. “I took a few days off, went on the ice and hit the gym for the rest of the summer. I spent the summer with some NHL guys from (Quebec). was quite fun and I learned a lot from these guys.”

Video: RAW | Xavier Bourgault 14.09.22

Bourgault racked up the points when the puck was on his stick, finishing the year with 50 goals and 54 assists in just 63 games. Despite his obvious attacking qualities, it’s the work a player does when he’s not filling the scoresheet that often wins a coach’s trust.

“I want to show them that I can be good without the puck,” said Bourgault. “I can be intense off the puck, I’ll go into the corners and I can play both sides of the ice.”

When a player is already bigger than most, like newly drafted Reid Schaefer who checks in at a solid 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, the offseason focus is different.

“For me, (my biggest advantage) was my height. I really felt like I was a bigger player in this league and I used my body to my advantage,” Schaefer said. “Obviously I like to play physically and create space for my teammates and me too.”

Video: RAW | Dylan Holloway 14.09.22

Schaefer says he’s not just a big body who was able to punish smaller junior players for submission, citing his excellent shooting and strong attacking skills which helped the 18-year-old to 32 goals and 26 assists decisive in 66 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds. .

Still, it was ‘fastest’ that was the big offseason target for the power forward looking to take the next step. While the 32nd overall pick is a long shot to break camp with the Oilers, as are most recent recruits, the priority was making sure he could keep up with the best players in the game.

“I just think about my speed, those first three strides. That’s been a big priority for me this offseason,” Schaefer said. “For me, that’s a lot of strength training and explosiveness in the gym. The use of resistance bands and equipment is huge, but also technique in stride.”

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