SUN Hockey Pool

Major experience

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

They walked out with their sticks and equipment bags in tow.

The year is over for the Edmonton Oilers, but for some of the newbies the second season is just beginning.

Yesterday Marc Pouliot, Tom Gilbert, Bryan Young, Rob Schremp, Dan Syvret and Zack Stortini all headed back to their respective minor-league teams in time for the upcoming AHL playoffs.

PENGUINS

"I'm real excited to be going back," said Gilbert who along with Pouliot, Young and Schremp are going to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. "We have a real good team and it's good to go back and see the guys I've played with most of the year. We have a lot of veteran guys and we have a good shot of winning. It's exciting to go back and get a chance to win the Calder Cup."

The Penguins are currently second in the AHL Eastern Conference standings despite constantly having had players called up to Edmonton this season.

They're one of the Calder Cup favourites as the AHL season winds down and concludes next week.

"Obviously we'd rather be playing in the playoffs here," Pouliot said. "But it's nice to get that experience here and go back down there. Playoff hockey is the best and it should be very interesting."

Syvret who was thrust into the lineup when the Oilers fell short on defencemen is heading back to the Grand Rapids Griffins where he played most of the season. Stortini' is on his way back to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

"This was a good experience for all the young guys," said Syvret. "It was good to get a sniff. Obviously it wasn't the greatest scenario as we didn't win and we're not playoff bound. But I think we can take the experience and build on that over the summer and through to training camp."

TASTE OF NHL

Getting a taste of NHL hockey is expected to go a long way for the players heading back to their AHL clubs.

None of them played a part in the Oilers run to the Stanley Cup final last year. Pouliot was around but eventually sent home after getting sick.

However, all of them will have an influence as to how far in the playoffs their AHL teams go this year.

If things go particularly well for both Gilbert and Pouliot in the playoffs it could be the last they see of the AHL.

Both impressed during their stints in Edmonton and both have legitimate shots at making the Oilers out of training camp next season.

"Pouliot, talking to him, I feel really comfortable in penciling him in for next year," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"It's up to him to put the work in and move forward. The same goes for Tommy Gilbert. He's maybe not far along the line as Pouliot, but he's pretty close.

"They're both going to the minors to play and it's important for them to have good playoffs. But we expect them to have positions here next year."

Schremp, played only one game with the Oilers this season. But as a first-round pick, his progress has been closely monitored this season.

How he performs in the AHL playoffs should determine how hard of a look he gets at next year's training camp.

"I'll be pretty good," Schremp said. "With all these guys coming back we should be pretty deep in the playoffs."

Schremp was the last player to be called up from Wilkes-Barre this season.

He's had his ups and downs with the Penguins this year -his first as a professional.

"It was a bit of battle so I didn't really expect to get called up," he said. "I was kind of inconsistent. I would play a good game on Friday and Saturday, then have a bad game on Sunday.

"I had to learn how to be consistent and make sure I was playing well all the time. Everyone else got called up for a reason, they were playing well."


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