Happy campers

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

For some, it's old hat.

For others, it's the realization of a dream.

Yesterday Edmonton Oiler hopefuls were measured, weighed, tested and photographed in preparation for rookie camp, which starts today in Leduc.

A total of 23 players are taking part in the three-day camp which culminates with an exhibition game against the University of Alberta Golden Bears on Tuesday at Clare Drake Arena.

"I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited," said Theo Peckham, 18, the Oilers' second pick - 75th overall - in this June's NHL Entry Draft. "I can't wait to get out there and prove myself."

Peckham - attending his first pro camp - is one of a handful of players who'll be sent back to junior this season.

For junior-aged players, the camp is an introduction to the professional ranks.

"He's a tough kid," said Kevin Prendergast, the Oilers' vice-president of hockey operations.

"He's raw, there is a lot of work to be done there, but he's a good skater, he's physical and he shoots the puck well. He'll be somebody that'll be working very closely with Charlie Huddy at this camp."

The six-foot-one, 216-pound defenceman anchored the blueline for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League last season.

He finished the year with six goals, nine assists and 236 penalty minutes in 67 regular-season games.

"I don't know what to expect," Peckham said. "But I know if I play my game pretty much to my fullest potential then I should be fine."

Other players attending camp are looking to impress enough in order to earn assignment to one of the Oilers' five shared affiliated minor-league clubs. Without a full affiliate of their own, those spots are at a premium as well.

Then there are those who are looking to make the team.

Forwards Alexei Mikhnov, 24, Rob Schremp, 20, and goaltender Devan Dubnyk, 20, are the three highest-profile players .

"I just want to take it a day at a time," said Dubnyk, who'll be taking part in his third camp.

"My first camp didn't go as well as I would have liked. I think I was a little nervous and didn't know what to expect. Last year I came and had a ton of fun, took it one day at a time. I got to work with (Oilers goaltending coach) Pete Peeters a lot and I really felt like I got better at camp and that's what I want to do at this camp."

Other notables include local product Tyler Spurgeon, 20, who played with the Kelowna Rockets last season, defenceman Tom Gilbert, 23, who won a national championship with the University of Wisconsin Badgers last season, and winger Liam Reddox, 20, the Oilers' fifth pick - 112th overall - in the 2004 draft.

"I'm trying to go in with an open mind and keep things positive," Reddox said. "I'm coming here trying to make the team. I'm just going to work my hardest and see what goes from there.''


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