SUN Hockey Pool

Gilbert still breathing all things hockey

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:28 PM ET

EDMONTON - Having stayed in Edmonton so far this off-season, Tom Gilbert can’t get away from hockey.

The Edmonton Oilers defenceman is well aware of the ongoing saga of his team and up to date on the current playoff situations around the league.

“I know everything about every team being in town,” Gilbert smiled. “You get enough of the Stanley Cup playoffs, let alone how your draft options are doing in their tournaments and things like that.

“It’s definitely going to be interested to see what happens. It’s just that excitement level of who’s going to be here, what element they’re going to bring to the team, and just looking forward to the future to put ourselves together and have a more successful season next year.”

With the Oilers finishing 30th in the standings this past season, there is only one direction for the team to go. They’ll get a big boost in June at the NHL draft where they’ll have the top overall pick.

It'll either be Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin.

“That’s obviously exciting,” Gilbert said. “You see teams like Chicago or Washington, they get those good players and they just bloomed. We’re looking to go in that direction. I think whatever player you get it’s going to be a positive. You read about them all the time, especially Taylor Hall, you see him scoring those great goals and you can just picture him doing it for the Oilers.”

Since the season came to an end, there have been a number of changes made to the organization already. The team fired assistant general manager Kevin Prendergast, and relieved the veteran training staff of their duties.

“It’s always surprising when you see guys that have been there that long, have to leave,” Gilbert said. “But that’s part of business. Obviously, us as players, we don’t have any control over that. That’s an upper management decision. Whatever happens, happens. I’ve talked to all of them, and they’re all going to stay a part of the organization, which shows how much they love working for this team and those are the kinds of guys you want to have around.

“But it’s stuff that I don’t really try to pay too much attention to.”

Gilbert plans on staying in town until mid-June when he’ll head to Wisconsin to start training for the upcoming season. The Bloomington, Minn., native played his college hockey at the University on Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, Gilbert was a special guest at the Whitemud West Titans' year-end banquet. The local atom squad was one of 10 teams around the country to win the Scotiabank Ultimate Hockey Banquet, each of which featuring an NHLer as a guest of honour.

Gilbert jumped at the opportunity to take part in the event.

“Growing up, we used to have some older guys come in and talk to us and it was such a neat thing, that it was tough for me to turn down this opportunity to talk to kids,” Gilbert said. “I just want to give them some of the experiences that I went through and what they have to look forward to.”

It wasn’t long ago, the 27-year-old was the one dreaming about playing in the NHL.

He recently completed his third full season with the Oilers and is suddenly one of the club’s most experienced blue-liners.

“Back when you’re young, you never really imagine making it that far, it’s always your dream,” Gilbert said. “For me, I played a bunch of different sports and I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to pursue. But looking back at it, it was definitely cool to see those guys up there that I idolized and I wanted to be like. Just to listen to them and the stories that they had, made a difference to my development and knowing what I wanted to do when I was younger.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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