Slovak star turns heads

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Milan Kytnar has been through this before.

Currently attending his third professional training camp, it's little surprise the native of Topolcany, Slovakia, was on the top line as the Edmonton Oilers rookies defeated the Vancouver Canucks prospects 6-3 last night in Leduc.

The Oilers fifth pick -- 127th overall -- in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft spent last season with the Saskatoon Blades, scoring 27 goals and adding 37 assists in 64 games.

"We really like his defensive responsibilities," said Oilers assistant GM Kevin Prendergast. "He really knows what to do in his own end of the ice. He does all the little things that all coaches love.

"He comes all the way back, he helps his wingers out and he can also score. The thing about him this year is that his skating has improved."

Kytnar, 20, is expected to head back to Saskatoon this season following his run with the Oilers.

Last year the six-foot, 180-pound centre lasted two days at main camp before being sent back down to junior.

"Camp has been pretty good so far, we have a really good group of guys and practice went well for the first couple of days," Kytnar said.

"The third day was kind of tough, but we did well, our line was going and we were ready for the game tonight."

The Oilers' top line last night accounted for three goals in the win over the Canucks. Jordan Eberle led the way with a pair of goals and an assist, while Philippe Cornet had a goal and two assists.

Kytnar had one helper.

"Our line seemed to be clicking the whole game," Eberle said. "Kytnar is an unbelievable two-way centre. He's great in the offensive zone, he finds ways to put the puck on your tape and in the defensive zone, I think he's one of the best two-way centres in the WHL. Even on faceoffs he's great."

Come Sunday when the veterans hit the ice, Kytnar hopes to be there and make enough of an impression to possibly get into an exhibition game or two.

"I'd like to go as far as possible," he said. "It would be really nice to be here a really long time and I'll do my best to do that, so we'll see. The experience from last year really helped me out at camp this year. It's a huge thing for me to bring over here and go from there, so it's easier."

As a member of the Blades' top line last year with Derek Hulak and Burke Gallimore --who incidentally are all at Oilers rookie camp -- Kytnar helped the junior team finish second behind the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL Eastern Conference.

However, the Blades were upset in the second round of the playoffs by the Lethbridge Hurricanes, which brought a premature end to their season.

"I was really happy when they traded me from Kelowna to Saskatoon the summer before the season," he said. "It was something new for me, and I talked to the coaches and they said they were going to give me chances offensively, which they did. We didn't change our line for the whole year and when you play with kids like that, it makes it a little easier. We had really good chemistry and when you have that, it shows up with wins on the ice.

"It's great that we're all here with the same club. It makes it a little more comfortable."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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