SUN Hockey Pool

Gilbert looks like a veteran

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- Tom Gilbert isn't even supposed to be playing in the NHL right now. And he definitely isn't supposed to be logging more minutes than anyone else on the team.

But he is, on both counts, and has looked very good doing so.

Of all the young prospects who were supposed to be making names for themselves during the golden opportunity provided by Edmonton's plague of injuries, Gilbert is the only one who actually is.

While the Oilers of tomorrow have struggled, the 24-year-old defenceman is making a name for himself today.

"The more ice time I get, I love it," said Gilbert, who was on for 29:26 in Chicago. "The more ice time you get the more comfortable you feel.

"Twenty-nine minutes is a lot, but it's what I want to do. I want to be on as much as possible."

And why wouldn't they want him there.

With five points in his last six games, he's the leading scorer on the team in that span.

And in 10 games since he's been called up, he's plus-one.

"I thought I might ease into it, 10 or 15 minutes a game," he said.

"This is a great chance. I'm trying to make the most of it."

It will also put him in an entirely different mindset when he reports to training camp in the fall.

He won't be as nervous, he won't be wondering if he has the tools that are needed to play in this league.

"It's definitely a positive thing for me," said Gilbert, acquired in the 2004 Tommy Salo trade to Colorado.

"I'm still working on my defensive game.

"It still has a lot of holes in it. But knowing I have played 30 minutes a game, I feel I can play at this level.

"It's just a huge confidence boost. I'll work hard in the summer and try and make the team next year."


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