The college kid

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

Tom Gilbert's college career could not have come to a better end.

The six-foot-three, 210-pound defenceman scored the game winner to give the University of Wisconsin the national title at the NCAA Frozen Four tournament last season.

It was an impressive way to end a stellar college career.

"It was awesome," said Gilbert, 23. "Winning that championship is something that I'll never forget. Going from my freshman year to being a senior and having my best production that year, I couldn't have asked for a better year."

It was the stuff of dreams.

But now Gilbert's focus is on another dream - playing in the NHL.

Despite this being his first NHL camp, the Minneapolis native has a shot at cracking a roster spot.

"He's the type of player that we are looking for within the organization because he's a puck-moving defenceman," said Kevin Pendergast. "That jump from college to the national hockey league is a pretty big jump, but he's got all the tools to be an NHL player. It's up to him to try and win a job here. If not, then he'll go to the minors and we'll go from there."

Gilbert was acquired by the Oilers in the trade that sent goaltender Tommy Salo to the Colorado Avalanche towards the end of the 2004 season. In his final year at Wisconsin, he scored 12 goals and added 19 assists in 43 games.

"My goal is to just play the way I play, just continue to do what I do well, push myself every day and try to earn a spot on the team."


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