SUN Hockey Pool

Jacques, Brodziak, Winchester, Roy had anything but the Blues

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:42 PM ET

Prior to the Olympic break, the Edmonton Oilers got a first-hand glimpse at their future.

With five regulars out of the lineup in their final game before the two-week hiatus, the Oilers needed help from the farm to ice a squad against the St. Louis Blues.

Defenceman Mathieu Roy and forward Brad Winchester were brought up to join Jean-Francois Jacques and Kyle Brodziak in the Oiler dressing room.

None of the four had more than 13 NHL games under their belt, with Roy making his NHL debut.

"It's a good chance for them to assess themselves at this level," said Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson. "It's a process for them."

BIGGEST IMPRESSION

Of the four, Jacques has made the biggest impression.

The six-foot-four, 217-pound, 20-year-old winger fit in well since getting called up shortly before the break.

"His assets are strength and speed," Howson said. "There's no doubt he can skate at this level. He's actually an above-average skater at this level. He just needs experience at this level."

Brodziak and Winchester are two players the Oilers are high on. However, the pair have struggled to put together consistent performances and have been unable to find a regular spot in the lineup.

"Certainly we thought Kyle would be a little further along than the other two (Jacques and Winchester)," said Howson. "He hasn't yet established himself, but I think he's going in the right direction."

Brodziak is the first to admit things could be better this season.

"It's been kind of up and down," he said. "I think one thing I really need to work on is my consistency.

''I had a few injuries earlier this year, which kept me out for a few weeks.

"Right now some games are going great, some games are not going so great."

Along with the four who are currently back in the American Hockey League, the Oilers are also keeping a close eye on Andrew Cogliano of the University of Michigan Wolverines.

Cogliano was the Oilers top pick (25th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

"He's got great speed, good offensive awareness and great vision," said Howson. "He's just got to get experience, become an elite player at the college level. He'll play in the World Juniors, I suspect, next year and hopefully, he'll become and elite player at that level, too."

LOTS OF ICE TIME

In 32 games with the Wolverines this year, Cogliano has 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 32 games.

"His progression has been good," Howson said.

"He's been a very good player on a strong college hockey team. As a freshmen he's been getting a lot of ice time and he's going exactly where we want him to go."


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