Super sophomore season?

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

For a 17-year-old rookie, his numbers weren't bad.

Brent Raedeke had 31 points in 72 games last season for the Edmonton Oil Kings, finishing sixth in team scoring.

Only three players put the puck in the net more often, as the Regina native finished with 15 goals, one behind Tomas Vincour and Brenden Dowd, and three back of the departed Robin Figren.

"When he started the year, he was unbelievable," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau. "We put a lot of pressure on him and put him into a lot of situations that 17 year olds don't usually get.

"He was the point-man on our power play, he was on the first line, and did a lot of other things for us. I think that mentally wore him down a little bit and that's something that we have to look at this year. But his 31 points were good. I think he learned a lot last year and we did too, about him."

Heading into this season, expectations are high on the six-foot, 197-pound centre.

As a team, the Oil Kings struggled offensively last year and are counting on Raedeke to help change that.

"Coming in this year we expect him to play the way he did at the beginning of last year," Pleau said.

"He's fresh now, he's confident and he's in great shape physically.

"He's a guy that puts a lot of pressure on himself and that's a good thing.

"We were challenged offensively last year and he's a guy that we need to step in and create offence for us, whether that would be at first or second-line centre or on the power-play."

Originally a part of the Regina Pats organization, Raedeke was acquired by the Oil Kings in an expansion draft deal. Last season was his first in the WHL.

"In training camp last year they said I would be probably be getting a lot of ice time and they stayed true to their word," Raedeke said. "I got quite a bit throughout the season.

"Your first year in the league, you don't want to do too much. You want to keep your game as simple as you can and just work hard all the time. That's basically all you can do. When you get your ice time just try and make the most of it."

Back bigger, stronger and more experienced, Raedeke would like to double his point total from a year ago. Being pegged as the team's possible first-line centre he'll get plenty of opportunities to do that.

"The offensive side of the game is one of his strengths," Pleau said. "He handles the puck well, he's got a good shot. To me, that's his key. When he shoots the puck, he's very dangerous offensively. When he gets too cute, he takes himself out of that scoring position."

With training camp wrapping up yesterday at the Jubilee Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, Raedeke looks ready for the start of the season.

On Saturday the Oil Kings begin their exhibition campaign at their second annual preseason tournament. The four-team event, also featuring the Pats, Medicine Hat Tigers, and Swift Current Broncos takes place in St. Albert.

"I think I can bring a lot more to the table offensively," Raedeke said.

"I think last year we were offensively challenged. I think we're going to get a bit more leeway to create more offensively. When you get the puck, not being afraid to go to the net or make a play with it.

"Being a second-year guy and having that one year of experience obviously helps. I think the coaches will be looking at me to be a leader."

And a second year team, more will be expected out of the Oil Kings as well.

"First and foremost our goals is to make the playoffs," Raedeke said. "We didn't make it last year and that's the first thing on our list this year."


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