Tough guy working on his speed

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

For Geoff Paukovich, size is his biggest asset.

The six-foot-four, 208-pound winger was the Oilers' fourth pick - 54 overall - in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

He's big enough to play in the NHL. It's just a matter of getting up to speed.

"Like the case is with all big guys, the thing I probably have to work on most is my skating and foot-speed," Paukovich said. "I think it's easier to keep up with the game once I'm moving around, but it's that first-step quickness, that directional quickness, that I need to work on. Apart from than that, it's a matter of improving overall skill-wise."

Last season, the native of Englewood, Col., had five goals, four assists and 94 penalty minutes in 46 games with the Springfield Falcons. He's expected to head back there this season.

"I think everybody knows we had a rough year in Springfield last year," he said. "You name it and it went wrong.

"But I was happy with how my year went, getting to spend the whole season there. Especially when Rob Daum came in. That made a big upswing in my game. Now we'll come into camp and we'll see what happens."

A University of Denver product, Paukovich is capable of providing a strong physical element for the Oilers in the future. Whether or not he'll get a chance to play with the big club will depend on his progression in the minors.

"I've been to training camp three times now and basically for me it's kind of been a stepping stone all three years," he said.

"I'm basically looking to improve my performance this year and see how much further into camp I can get. From that point, I just want to play as well as I can and try to last as long as I can."

Stockton still in plans

The Oilers renewed their affiliation with the ECHL's Stockton Thunder yesterday.


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