Oilers make a net gain

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers figures four years in the minors is enough.

The Edmonton Oilers goaltender is ready to make the jump to the NHL.

"My intention is to make the Oilers this year," Drouin-Deslauriers said yesterday after the Oilers announced they had reached an agreement with him on a two-year contract extension.

"I'm working pretty hard this summer in order to try to make the team in September. I know I'm going to have to play hard and show them what I can do and force them to make a decision."

The native of St-Jean-Richelieu, Que., has spent the last four years in the minors.

Last season he posted a 26-23-5 record in Springfield with a 2.90 goals against average and a save percentage of .912.

"I thought I had a good season," Drouin-Deslauriers said. "I put up some pretty good numbers but, unfortunately, we were unable to make the playoffs. Hockey is a team sport and when you don't make the playoffs, it's disappointing. But personally, I thought I had a good year."

Originally selected in the second round (31 overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Drouin-Deslauriers started his career with the AHL Edmonton Roadrunners during the NHL lockout.

With the team's demise the following season, and without the Oilers having an exclusive farm team, Drouin-Deslauriers found it difficult to find playing time.

He played six games with Greenville in the ECHL and 13 games with Hamilton in 2005-2006. He then played 40 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the following season.

"When you get drafted you want everything to go your way," Drouin-Deslauriers said. "You want to be in the NHL the next year. I wanted to play four years ago for the Oilers, but they had other plans. I've been in the minors for the last four years and I've learned a lot in those last four years, so I think I'm ready."

Drouin-Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk have been groomed to be the Oilers goaltenders of the future. But in order for Drouin-Deslauriers to make the jump this year, he'll have to elbow one of the Oilers' current goaltenders out of the picture.

That will be tough considering Mathieu Garon emerged as the team's starter last season, and Dwayne Roloson will be making over $3.6-million US in the final year of his contract.

"Jeff made some significant strides last season and now appears ready to challenge for a spot on our hockey club," said Oilers vice-president of hockey operations Kevin Pendergast in a statement.

"With Jeff's addition we are very comfortable with our goaltending situation."

It'll be up to Drouin-Deslauriers to force the Oilers' hand.

"I'm very excited to be back with the team," Drouin-Deslauriers said.

"I can now turn my focus to working out and getting ready for training camp September. I think I've matured both physically and mentally during my time in the minors. My goal this year is to make the team. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm prepared to do what it takes and I think I'm ready to play in the NHL."


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