This is Chris Vande Velde. His showing at this fall’s training camp went mostly unnoticed what will all the commotion. We may one day look back on TC 2010 and remember it as the period of time when the Oilers finally saw that big center everyone was waiting for these many years. And that’s not all.
Chris Vande Velde has a wide range of abilities. Size, skill, he was splendid in the faceoff circle at the college level and he can play a gritty game. His performance in the pre-season gives all Oiler fans hope for the future. Oilers player development man Mike Sillinger had this to say: "He’s a big guy, strong guy, protects the puck really well, plays his position really well. He’s not overly flashy, but he’s very noticeable in doing the little things well. Decent on the faceoffs and, with his size (6-foot-2, 190 pounds), he’s just so big and strong in front of the net."
Tom Renney had this to say about the college man:“Chris is a guy that just pushes it forward, gets it deep and goes into the dirty areas. He’s very responsible, he understands the game and programs well.As players like him gain experience in these games, it becomes increasingly difficult to suggest why they shouldn’t be here."
There’s been a lot of chatter today about how little was accomplished at this year’s training camp. I cannot believe my eyes. The Edmonton Oilers have introduced a generation of prospects to their fanbase this fall. The names Hall, Pääjärvi, Eberle and others will be heard rolling out over the next decade and longer. The secondary group (which includes Vande Velde) are the first to audition to become this team’s role players and the early returns are very positive.
Roster spots were somewhat predictable, but it should also be mentioned that many of the late cuts will also be the early recalls this season. Vande Velde, Belle, Petiot, Ondrus, Omark, these are the names we’ll see in 10-11 when injuries and slumps impact the main roster. This year’s training camp was a snapshot, a moment in time. No more or less important than the days when Tony Hand, Alex Henry, Fernando Pisani, Blair Barnes, Esa Tikkanen and Kevin Lowe skated their first shifts on Northlands ice.
Bored by the final roster? Give your head a shake. Print the damn thing off and hang it on the wall. Lets agree we’ll have another look at it in 10 years and decide at that time whether or not there was something to be excited about this fall. I’m betting yes.