SUN Hockey Pool

Stone looking rock-solid

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:33 PM ET

Ryan Stone has cast his die.

The Oilers forward has had an excellent training camp, but it still might not be good enough to earn a spot on the opening-night roster.

It's expected the Oilers will ice a lineup similar to the one that will start the season when they square off against the Vancouver Canucks in their final preseason game tomorrow night at Rexall Place.

Whether Stone is in that lineup will be a good indication as to whether he makes the team.

"I think I started things right with the fitness testing and I've been able to build momentum since then," said Stone. "I just want to play my game, open some eyes and make a good impression.

"I could have probably scored a couple of goals, but I think I've done a pretty good job of making their decision tough. I don't know the lineup for our last game, but if I'm in it, I just want to make a good impression. You always want to make a good first impression and a good last one, so we'll see."

At the start of training camp, Stone's name was not among those believed to be in the running for a roster spot, but his size -- and a willingness to use it -- quickly moved him up the depth chart.

It's no secret the Oilers are on the small side and they could use a player like Stone, especially having to match up with physical defences in the rest of the division.

"We haven't made the ultimate decisions yet," head coach Pat Quinn said yesterday. "But we've been working on preparing the team regardless of numbers.

"We have one more game to play and I'm assuming that Monday is the day when our final decisions will be made."

Stone, 24, is the last of the outsiders left in camp. Everyone else was considered to have at least an outside shot at a spot on the roster.

"I think we've had some real good competition at this camp for jobs," said Quinn. "We'll use (tomorrow) as a further measuring stick. We plan on playing just about everybody as we pare down to get to our final numbers. I think our management indicated that we had 19 forwards from which to choose 14.

"I think we're pretty close to where we want to be at this point, except that I won't be sure until after our final discussions with the individuals that are involved."

Stone has looked strong on a line with Mike Comrie and Patrick O'Sullivan, registering three assists in five games. He credits being in outstanding shape coming into camp as a key to his success so far.

"I was a lot more committed this summer to fitness than I had been in the past," Stone said. "I wish I had kind of figured it out four years ago about this stuff. But I guess things happen for a reason and this is one of them."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos