Oilers' Trukhno earns a look

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- They gave him skilled players to work with.

And alongside Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson, Edmonton Oilers hopeful Viacheslav Trukhno looked right at home.

Trukhno played on the Oilers top line last night in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place.

Although he was unable to collect a point in the contest, he and his unit had a strong game, creating chances all night.

"Even in the morning skate, it's just fun being around them," Trukhno said before the contest.

"It's definitely an eye-opener and I'm happy that they've given me that opportunity on the top line."

This is Trukhno's third training camp with the Oilers. He was the team's sixth pick (120th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

The native of Khimik, Russia, played with the Springfield Falcons last season, scoring 14 goals and adding 21 assists in 64 games.

He played three years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he scored 25 goals and added 77 assists in 60 games in his final year with Gatineau.

"You get a little more confidence every time you come to camp," Trukhno said.

"Especially playing in the AHL last year and just being a pro, it helps you a lot."

Unfortunately for Trukhno, unlike last season when there was room on the roster for Nilsson and Cogliano once they proved themselves capable of playing in the NHL, there are few spots available this season.

Regardless of how he plays, odds are Trukhno is going to end up in Springfield this season. But he could impress enough to earn a call-up if necessary.

"I feel way more confident this year," he said. "I think I had a good end of the season last year. The coaching staff made me realize what it takes to be a pro. I was in the stands at the beginning of the season, which was tough, a lot tougher than I expected."

Trukhno had a number of good opportunities to get on the board last night and probably did enough to earn himself another look in the preseason.

Kyle Brodziak opened the scoring for the Oilers in the first period as his shot eventually found its way through Canucks goaltender Robert Luongo. Darcy Hordichuk tied the game redirecting a centring pass, past Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

In the second, Michael Grabner gave the Canucks the led with an easy tap-in at the side of the net off a feed from Jannik Hansen.

Roloson played the entire game for the Oilers, while Luongo split Vancouver's goaltending duties with Curtis Sanford.

Tonight the Oilers play host to the Florida Panthers in the first of two consecutive games at Rexall Place.

"I think you just have to go out there and play your own game," Trukhno said. "You don't make those decisions, the coaches make those decisions. You just have to go out there and play your best and hope you stay up here.

"I think I still have to work on my skating, but I've only played exhibitions, so I don't know what it's like to play in a regular-season game."

Another year of seasoning in Springfield should prepare Trukhno to challenge for a roster spot next season. He's expected to play on the Falcons top line this year.

"He can make plays, he's a good player," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's got some parts of his game that he has to work on, but I was impressed the way he worked the point on the power play last year when he was here. He did that very well down in Springfield, too.

"He's got skill - he's going to be a good player."


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