Jeff gets lucky break

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Nobody needs to remind Jeff Deslauriers that a bad break for Jussi Markkanen could be a lucky break for him.

Deslauriers found out first-hand how an injury can turn around a season during his first pro campaign in 2004-05, a debut that included a 22-game stint between the pipes with the Edmonton Road Runners.

After seeing his season go sideways when he missed 15 games with a bone bruise of the leg, Deslauriers will get a longer look than he expected from the Edmonton Oilers at training camp because Markkanen is on the shelf recovering from the fractured collarbone he suffered in Finland Aug. 30.

Better a good break than a bad bruise.

"You don't like to see anybody get injured," said Deslauriers, who'll arrive in town from Quebec Sunday.

"But, one of my dreams is to play in the NHL. I've trained hard this summer and I've worked at my game, so I will be ready. I'm going to come and do my thing."

Deslauriers, 21, had an up-and-down time of it last season. In a year punctuated by two demotions to Greenville of the ECHL - conditioning stints after his injury - Deslauriers went 6-13-2 with a 2.95 goals-against average and an .888 saves percentage with the Road Runners.

Drafted 31st overall by the Oilers in 2002, Deslauriers also watched Mike Morrison seize the opportunity created by his injury and turn it into playing time in tandem with No. 1 man Tyler Moss.

With Markkanen expected to miss camp and most of the Oilers' eight pre-season games, Deslauriers is hoping to do likewise behind Ty Conklin and make the most of the longer look he'll get.

"The opportunity will be there," Deslauriers said. "It's my performance that will decide what happens. I've got to stay focused."

Markkanen was being counted on to push Conklin for the top job.

With him out, Deslauriers, Morrison and rookie Devan Dubnyk will get more playing time in pre-season.

One of them might have to be ready to be the backup to Conklin if Markkanen isn't ready to go Oct. 5.

"I know about injuries. It's too bad for Jussi," Deslauriers said. "The things I went through last season, the mental things I learned, helped me. It was good for me and I'll bring the experience to camp with me."


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