SUN Hockey Pool

Excited about prospects

JACOB ROBINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

SIMCOE, Ont. -- The excitement in Oil Country is starting to build, and Dwayne Roloson plans on being a big part of it.

The Simcoe native will soon be back on the ice for his third full season of playing goal for the Edmonton Oilers. And after posting a record of 15-17-5 with a 3.05 goals-against-average and .901 save percentage last season, Roloson says he's ready to challenge Mathieu Garon for the starting job.

"It's all excitement, everyone's excited for the upcoming season. They're looking forward to the run-and-gun style we played towards the end of the year," said Roloson.

"At the end of the year, we were one of the best teams in the league (going 14-5-1 in their final 20 games). If we can start off the season the same way we ended, it's going to go a long way for us having a lot of confidence and moving forward."

Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe has been a busy man this summer, acquiring players Erik Cole, Lubomir Visnovsky and Gilbert Brule, among others, while trading away Joni Pitkanen, Raffi Torres and Jarret Stoll.

DIDN'T SURPRISE

The moves didn't surprise Roloson, who has seen plenty of roster changes during his tenure with the club.

"We knew they were going to make some deals and were going to try to sign some free agents, which fell through," he said. "So if you can't sign them, you have to try and get them any way you can."

The team has also signed AHL Springfield goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who is expected to battle Roloson and Mathieu Garon for playing time this season.

It's unclear whether the Oilers will go with one main starter or a platoon system in goal, but Roloson is preparing the same way he always has regardless.

"That's really out of my control, what (coach) Craig MacTavish is doing. I can just go and play and hopefully I'm ready," said Roloson.

"At the end of the day, if you're ready to play, you're going to play lots."

This weekend, Roloson held his goalie school to help young goalies prepare for the upcoming season. Being ready for the start of the year will be a key element for the Oilers as well, as they look to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when they fell just one win short of a Stanley Cup championship.

"That's what we want to do (get back to the playoffs)," Roloson said.

"We've proved before that it doesn't matter what position you finish, as long as you get to the playoffs you have that opportunity and chance to win. Right now our focus is to make the playoffs."

Two players that will no doubt take on larger roles with the team this season are sophomores Sam Gagne and Andrew Cogliano.

CORNERSTONES

With 49 and 45 points respectively in 2007-08, both are being looked upon as the cornerstones of the franchise. Not only does the pair bring obvious talent, but the right approach to the game.

"Both of them are really exciting players to watch. Being on our team, they're fun to deal with. They want to learn and they want to get better," Roloson said.

"Any time you get young, enthusiastic players like they are, the sky's the limit because they want to learn and they want to get better. Some guys come in and have up and down years because they're not trying to get better. These guys want to get better."

Going into the final year of a three-year deal with the Oilers, the 38-year-old Roloson said a large part of his future in the game hinges on how he performs this season.

"It's always in the back of your mind. For me, I would like to continue on playing," he said.

"The way the season goes is going to dictate whether I have that opportunity. With me it's about doing what I have to do this year. I have to control the things I have to control, and that will lead into the future."


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