Young and the restless

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

So far they've impressed.

The Edmonton Oilers youngsters appear ready to make their mark this NHL season.

But being on the roster in October is one thing. Sticking around through May is another entirely.

"What I'd like to see out of them is consistency," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"One of the pitfalls, the growth curve of a young player, is inconsistency.

"But Kyle (Brodziak) has quite a bit of experience in the American League level as has Robert (Nilsson) and (Andrew) Cogliano has been very consistent so far."

Nilsson, 22, Cogliano, 20, and Brodziak, 23, could play prominent roles this season for the Oilers.

Nilsson, acquired last season as part of the Ryan Smyth trade, is pencilled in to play on the Oilers' second line. Brodziak has a spot on the third line.

And Cogliano has played so well, he could find himself centring one of the Oilers top three lines - perhaps even the first line.

"My first goal is to make the team," Cogliano said. "I think I'm lucky to be up here and now I want to stay up here. Obviously the key to staying up here is playing well and playing hard. If I'm lucky enough to make the team, the goal is to play up here and stay up here."

Cogliano was impressive during training camp, leading the Oilers in scoring through the first six preseason games.

Last year, the Toronto native scored 24 goals and added 26 assists in 38 games for the University of Michigan.

"I'm confident in myself," Cogliano said. "I thought I was pretty ready to come in and make an impact. I think maybe I surprised myself a little bit in how I'm playing.

"But when I look back on it now, I prepared myself for the season both mentally and physically and I feel that the hard work has paid off in this camp. But this is only the beginning; this is nothing, if I'm lucky enough to make the team that's when the harder stuff will come in."

Nilsson - son of former Oiler Kent Nilsson - spent the majority of the season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League last season.

Originally selected 15th overall by the Islanders in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Nilsson spent the better part of the 2005-2006 season on Long Island.

He was brought up for four games last season after being acquired by the Oilers.

"I want to be here 82 games," he said.

"I want to contribute to the team and play my best every night. I played a lot my first year and the second year I didn't play too much.

"You always put pressure on yourself, because this is where I want to be. I always have done that ever since I was a little kid. Sometimes I put a little too much pressure (on myself), but that's just the way it is."

The key to succeeding in the NHL for younger players is to know what they can and can't get away with at this level.

At times it can be a tough lesson to learn.

"I think Kyle knows that to a greater degree than Robert does," MacTavish said.

"I think Robert is going to have to be a little more deceptive in the things he does. He won't be able to get away with certain types of passes that you can at another level. But Robert is a smart guy and he's going to figure that out quickly. Hopefully that doesn't lead to inconsistency; he's put too much work in for that to happen."

Brodziak has spent the last three seasons in the AHL and appears ready to make the jump to the next level.

If he's not, there are plenty of candidates ready to step in.

Patrick Thoresen was impressive early on in his rookie campaign last season.

Marc Pouliot is looking for a breakout season and Sam Gagner has made some waves.

"We're hopeful those guys can step in and be productive in those roles because they're prominent positions," MacTavish said. "Robert is going to be our second-line right winger and Kyle is going to be our third-line left winger. So we need them to play well."


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