Thoresen's in!

Andrei Taratukhin from the Calgary Flames goes up against Patrick Thoresen from the Edmonton Oilers...

Andrei Taratukhin from the Calgary Flames goes up against Patrick Thoresen from the Edmonton Oilers in pre season NHL action at the Pengrowth Saddledome in downtown Calgary. (SUN/Stuart Dryden)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Looks like the dark horse already has a stall in the dressing room.

In a rather unprecedented move yesterday, head coach Craig MacTavish all but announced that unknown, unheralded, undrafted winger Patrick Thoresen will be making the Edmonton Oilers. If he hasn't already.

Based on his standout performance through the first three exhibition games, Thursday's 5-4 overtime win over a veteran-laden Calgary Flames team in particular, the 22-year Norwegian winger is sitting pretty.

"We haven't had that in a while, a player from Europe come in here and be as polished and complete and effective as he's been,'' said MacTavish, a day after Thoresen, who leads the Oilers in pre-season scoring with four points in three games, had a goal and an assist against the Flames.

"Right now he looks like a guy who will not only make the team, but really help us. I haven't seen any weakness in any facet of the team so far.''

In an age when roster spots are normally reserved for one-way contracts and high-profile draft picks, players almost never come out of nowhere and grab a job by the throat. But he's making MacTavish an offer he can't refuse.

"I understand that when I came over here people didn't really I know who I was,'' said Thoresen. "I've never been drafted or anything like that, but I know I can play good hockey. I'm not really surprised (how well he's fit in) but it's fun to be able to take it out there as good as I have so far.''

The best part for Edmonton is that Thoresen is found money. The Oilers didn't have to give anything up to get him, not even a draft pick. They just signed him as a free agent after Kent Nilsson and Kevin Prendergast discovered him in the Swedish Elite League, where he was top-10 in scoring last year with 36 points in 50 games.

With so many big-talent veterans and big-name rookies in camp, he was able to fly in under the radar. But everyone's watching him now.

"There are players that the more you see them, the better you like them,'' said MacTavish.

"I didn't know a lot about him. You hear the stories in most camps: 'He's a really good player who can come in and help you.' But up until this point we haven't seen anybody of this ability.''

They like his play defensively and away from the puck, and on offence he's never far from the highlights.

"They're not secondary assists,'' MacTavish said of his three helpers.

"I can remember every play on the four goals he was in on. He was the guy who made the play on every one of those goals. It looks like he's going to come in and help us in a variety of different ways.''

Thoresen is a confident cat, who, despite his tender age, has taken a long road to get here. He was passed over at the NHL draft, despite good numbers in the QMJHL, because he was too slow.

Then came cups of coffee in St. Louis and Boston's rookie camps, followed by three years in Sweden.

"I was very disappointed at the time, but I think I grew a little bit in my head when I didn't (get drafted). I told myself: I'm going to keep fighting on. I set a goal that by 25, if I didn't have a contract by that time, then I would stop dreaming.''

His time in the Swedish Elite League, he says, did him wonders.

"I have a lot of experience from playing against men the last three years. I think that puts me ahead of players who are coming from juniors.''

But not to the point that he's taking anything for granted, no matter what the coach says.

"I feel good, I feel very good. But I'll just have to keep working hard and see what happens in two weeks when the season starts.''


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