Rookie repeater rocks

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

CAMROSE -- He's become a fixture at Edmonton Oilers rookie camp.

By the time it wraps up tonight with an exhibition game against the ACAC All-stars in Camrose, Stephane Goulet will have taken part in five camps.

That's not necessarily a good thing. But considering the six-foot-three, 185-pound winger from Levis, Que., got a couple of extra exhibition games out of it, he'll take it.

"I think the pace of rookie camp is getting faster every year and I'm getting a chance to take a leadership role in it, helping lead the way," said Goulet.

"I love coming to rookie camp. It helps me get ready for the main camp. Everyone was very receptive to coming to rookie camp this year in order to prepare for main camp.

"All summer all you are doing is playing shinny hockey and playing without contact, so it's good to get into the game and have contact before going to main camp."

Goulet, 22, was the Oilers eighth-pick (208th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

50-GOAL SCORER

A former 50-goal scorer in junior with the Moncton Wildcats, he split his time between the Oilers affiliates in Springfield and Stockton last season.

"I was in and out of the lineup in Springfield," Goulet said. "Then they sent me for five weeks to Stockton where things went pretty well for me there. Then I got back to Springfield and since we weren't making the playoffs, they sent me back down to Stockton to play in the playoffs there.

"We had a good run in Stockton last year. It was good and I learned a lot from the coaches both in Springfield and in Stockton."

So far Goulet has stood out with the rookies.

His line, which includes collegian Bryan Lerg and this summer's 22nd overall pick Jordan Eberle, have been the most dangerous throughout camp so far.

Both Goulet and Lerg are expected to be big parts of the Springfield Falcons lineup this season. Eberle has to go back to junior if he doesn't stick with the Oilers.

"As a younger guy, he's definitely trying to find his niche," said Falcons head coach Jeff Truitt of Goulet. "Offence is definitely his game. With that we'll be asking him to get involved in traffic areas and things like that.

"I think it's coming. He's such a positive guy and obviously he was up and down with us last year, but we're looking for him to make great strides for us this year in an offensive role."

Goulet had nine goals and five assists in 36 games with the Falcons last season. He scored four goals and had 10 assists in 12 games after getting sent down to Stockton.

In the ECHL playoffs, he scored five goals and added four assists in six games.

'BIG PART OF THE TEAM'

"I want to be a big part of the team in Springfield this year," Goulet said. "I want to help the team win and help them get into the playoffs. I would like to have an impact in the team's success this year."

Goulet has come a long way since attending that first rookie camp as a 17 year old.

In his final year of junior, Goulet helped Moncton win the QMJHL championship with 51 goals and 42 assists in 67 games during the regular season.

He added seven goals and eight assists in 13 playoff games and had an other four points in the Memorial Cup tournament, where Moncton lost in the final. Goulet spent the following season in Stockton, scoring 17 goals and adding 23 assists in 69 games.

"I think looking at him from last year to this year, he's added more muscle," Truitt said. "I also think that he's flat-out quicker. He has more speed and he still has a great offensive mind and offence is his game."

The majority of the 2004 Oilers draft class attended this year's rookie camp. However, regardless of what happens this season, odds are it will be Goulet's last.

"I think given an opportunity, you want to take that opportunity the best that you can," Truitt said. "I don't know if it ever gets old because you're knocking on the door trying to make it into the National Hockey League. A lot of players don't get that opportunity so I think the excitement is always there, because that's your dream."


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