Familarity helps Vande Velde on Oilers
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
NASHVILLE — Chris Vande Velde is not alone.
Having been called to make his NHL debut last week, the Edmonton Oilers rookie took comfort in getting an opportunity to play with familiar faces.
“It’s been a lot of fun and there’s definitely an adjustment,” Vande Velde said. “Guys are stronger and more talented, but I think I held my own out there and I’m on a pretty good line with (Teemu) Hartikainen and (Alexadre) Giroux. They are some familiar faces for me, I played with them with the Oklahoma City Barons. It’s fun to see and I think we’ve adjusted well.”
The trio, who had been playing with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City for most of the year, were brought up to fill in on an injury-depleted lineup.
The three are expected to be together again on Tuesday when the Oilers take on the Nashville Predators.
“It definitely helps, being familiar,” Vande Velde said. “We have a little chemistry. It helps being with them half the year down there. If we could do it here, it would be great.”
Selected by the Oilers in the fourth round — 97th overall — in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Vande Velde had 12 goals and four assists in 67 games with the Barons this season.
He had spent the previous four years with the University of North Dakota, registering 41 points in 42 games during his senior year.
“That was definitely the goal, to get a few games up here,” Vande Velde said. “If it didn’t happen this year, I was hoping for next year. I’m glad it happened this year and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I had a pretty good second half down there and getting the call up here, I like to think I deserved it.”