SUN Hockey Pool

New GM has a read on readiness

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Steve Tambellini is still getting used to his new surroundings.

But four days into rookie camp, the Edmonton Oilers new general manager has been impressed with the young crop of talent.

"So far, I've seen a good, very respectful young group," Tambellini said.

"I've seen a high level of competitiveness from all of them. They have a lot of energy through the first few days.

"I'm very, very impressed."

Tambellini was brought on board from the Vancouver Canucks organization when Kevin Lowe took the president of hockey operations title.

He'll be part of the decision-making process that will determine which rookies to bring to main camp which starts on Friday.

From there they'll evaluate whether any are ready to play with the big club.

"People always ask me when I think a player is ready," Tambellini said.

"I always answer it the same way: The player tells me when he's ready.

"If he's ready to play, he's going to play in the NHL. If he's not and is ready to play in the American League, he's going to play in the American League.

"The player will demonstrate if he's ready to play. You can't force someone into that situation regardless of draft position, a free agent or contract."

The Oilers traditionally have been patient with their prospects, with the exception of Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano who made the jump straight from junior and U.S. College hockey respectively.

Both were able to adapt to the rigours of professional hockey on and off the ice.

"That's important - it's the whole package," Tambellini said.

"There has to be an obvious balance of poise, skill-set and maturity level for them to be able to handle the National Hockey League.

"And they have to be able to sustain that throughout the season. There is a big difference between someone coming up and playing a good weekend and the coaching staff having the trust and the confidence that they're going to be able to do that every night."


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