Oilers bulk up in off-season
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
|Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid, seen here at the Perry Pearn 3-on-3 camp in Edmonton, Alta., says the addition of some hard-nosed players during the off-season will help the team. (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers are not too keen on watching Taylor Hall fight his own battles.
The club would rather see their young star padding his stats than exchanging punches or taking hits from opponents.
So despite letting perhaps the top heavyweight in the league go, the Oilers have improved their toughness this season with the acquisitions of Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk and Andy Sutton.
“Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk and Andy Sutton will bring a huge physical presence for us,” said Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid, currently taking part in Perry Pearn’s three-on-three camp at the K of C Twin Arenas. “The style of hockey we’re playing, we’re going to need players like that and I think they’re going to help us big time.
“I think we needed it. But at the same time, these are guys who are physical, but can also play hockey. You talk about Hemmer (Ales Hemsky), he’s taken some big hits in the past and hopefully it’s not going to happen again with those guy in the lineup.”
Last season, Hall was injured in a fight with Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett. Hemsky has taken his share of abuse during his time with the Oilers.
“It doesn’t hurt to have those guys,” said Oilers defenceman Theo Peckham. “For me, that part of the game is a lot of fun.
“It’s definitely nice to be helping out in that respect, but at the end of the day, it’s about putting the puck in the net and keeping it out of ours. It should be pretty interesting. We definitely got a lot tougher, but with the other additions to our team, we also got a lot better, so it should be exciting.”
Hall hasn’t ruled out dropping the gloves again if he deems it necessary. But considering the Oilers probably got off lucky seeing their future franchise player just twist an ankle in the fight against Dorsett, it’s something they’d rather not see again.
“If one of us is on the ice, it’s not going to happen again,” Peckham said. “It was tough to watch that, I wasn’t playing that game, I was up in the press box. You kind have to take it upon yourself to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”