Martin Gernat, training camp surprise?

Gernat, Martin

Training camp surprises are difficult to predict – “surprise” by definition requiring something unexpected.

But they tend to have some things in common, and Martin Gernat is a guy with some of the ingredients.

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The Journal’s Jim Matheson wrote a great piece yesterday on Taylor Fedun – there is some other stuff in there, including the news that Louie DeBrusk is out as the colour guy on Oilers television broadcasts – and one of the things he hits on is Gernat’s off-season progress:

OKCity farmhand Martin Gernat, is up to 207 pounds after a summer in the gym. Gernat played 64 games with the Barons in his rookie pro season, mostly with Fedun as a partner. “This the time now to show I’m prepared to fight for a spot (NHL),” said Gernat, a former Oil King.

One Big Thing

Training camp surprises can take a lot of forms, but one of the most common is a player who has a lot of really good attributes but also has one big wart. Gernat fits the bill.

“Gernat has to get stronger,” Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson said in late February. “We saw Marincin go through this, and he needs to get stronger, but Marty’s stronger than he looks right now. You could see he was losing some battles the first year and this year he’s handled the corners really well.

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“Gernat has to learn intensity consistently. He’s able to make plays; everybody knows that. He has to learn intensity consistently and playing strong in the corners and in front of the net. That’s all it comes down to for him.”

It’s a little simplistic to say that strength is the only thing Gernat needed to work on – he has some chaos to his game – but that was clearly subordinate to his need for more strength in the defensive zone. Listed on the Oilers’ official site at 6’3” and 197 pounds, a jump to 207 shows that Gernat has taken that need to heart.

An intelligent defender with great hockey sense, significant puck skills, and decent speed for his size, Gernat brings a lot to the blue line. If he can add “capable of winning more battles than he loses” to the list, he’s suddenly extremely attractive as an NHL prospect.

The Caveat


The Score’s Justin Bourne wrote a piece a week ago that I’m probably going to be linking to over and over again. Here’s an excerpt:

Certain people perform better at different builds… some player’s aren’t meant to stack 15 pounds of muscle on their slighter frames at age 20. They can be more elusive at a more natural size for them. Not all body types are the same, not everyone is out there to do the same things. In the end, take it all with a grain of salt.

It’s really important to give these reports the skepticism they deserve. For example, take this excerpt from a Matheson piece dated September 9, 2009:

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Word is that winger Robert Nilsson has put on 15 pounds of muscle with some strenuous summer training.

Nilsson would be bought out the following summer following a disappointing season. Now it’s worth remembering that Nilsson was 5’11” and at a pretty good weight already, while Gernat is at least 6’3” and almost painfully thin. Also worth noting: one was a speedy forward, the other a defenceman. But it is a good reminder that these ‘best shape of his life’ stories may or may not translate to the ice.

What To Expect

Barons logo

On Tuesday I wrote that the reasonable expectation for Gernat was modest progress; in other words, a full-season in top-four minutes at the AHL level and perhaps a late-season NHL recall. I still think that’s the most probable outcome, particularly since the Oilers have pretty decent depth on the blue line.

But then I expected that Martin Marincin would play at least one more season in the AHL before seriously challenging for NHL work. Instead he was recalled at midseason and played so well that he earned the spot. It would be a surprise if Gernat could do the same, but it isn’t entirely out of the question.


  • I think his timeline for arrival is slightly behind Marincin, due to him sitting out a lot of junior due to an injury (was that his first or second junior season? I think it was the second). He may get into a few games, but I think even the most optimistic prognostication would have him arriving as a NHL defenceman sometime in 2015-2016.

    I just don’t see it. Would love to be wrong, though.

  • BC BOY

    Big believer in this player and hope is not traded. Give him another year in the A with primo minutes and watch out. His height in the AHL is listed 6’5 not 6’3. I’m pretty sure he is closer to 6’5.

  • BC BOY

    The AHL, WHL and hockey db websites all have hime listed at 6’5″. I’ve always thought Gernat was a interesting prospect. His development is parallel with Marincin which is also interesting. Hopefully he turns out to be a stud and turns into another asset!

  • It’s great to see progress for Gernat. The Oilers depth on D is great. However I don’t see Gernat making the team over Klefbom/Nurse/Marincin or even Aulie. If he gets a chance it would be due to injuries.

  • A-Mc

    From what i can tell, the only benefit to him being possibly NHL ready is so we can trade him for something.

    He’s well behind a solid 3 maybe 4 names already (Nurse, Klefbom, Marincin).

    If he shows well, maybe his best bet at an NHL gig is to get traded to a club that can start playing him right away in the NHL (if only temporarily).

  • The Soup Fascist

    Never saw play a minute last year, but saw him a ton the year before with the Oil Kings.

    Kid has excellent tools and above average offensive instincts. Problem was he was a danger to score at both ends of the ice. He hung around the opposition’s goalie more than his own.

    Like I said, never saw a lick of his game last year. Nelson may have tuned up his d-zone work. I think he needs to take the Marincin route of proving he is not a liability in his own end and then – and only then – consider making smart choices offensively.

  • BC BOY

    The Oil are knee deep in LH defence men. Perhaps this is what MacT was referring to when he stated they moved Smid because of the organizational strength.

    I still don’t understand why they moved Smid when they did though, unless they really think Brossoit has a chance. It’s water under the bridge now but I wonder if Smid could have fetched a center this summer.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Third pairing defenseman with mobility and puck-moving issues – and a questionable contract. I loved Laddy’s attitude and compete, but he wasn’t getting you a center to play in your top 9, IMO.

    • The Soup Fascist

      They moved Smid because, it turns out, he was headed for a steep decline in quality of play, coupled with the fact that he was set up to earn a significant paycheck for several more years. This was MacT abandoning a sinking ship before anyone else knew it was going down.

      Seriously, ask any Flames fan what they think of Smid; they weren’t impressed. At least we got a couple of lottery tickets and some cap space.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Agree, Flames Nation did a piece on reasonable expectations for Smid and it’s not flattering. When you are the worst place team, being a good defender on that team apparently means being a terrible one on other teams, even the Flames. I hope to goodness the up and comers can lock down the left side for years to come.

        Second question, with all this development, when and what is Mac T going to make a trade?

        Are teams looking at these guys and thinking, hey, we need one of those, and Edmonton needs one of everything! Or do Oiler fans look at their defensive prospects like Oiler fans looked at Smid two years ago?

        • The Soup Fascist

          During or after main camp. Mac-T is putting together a nice cupboard and if Arco/Draisaitl/Lander fails he’ll be unloading a couple items without doubt.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Not sure where this is all coming from, I live in YYC and may consume more hockey information than the average hockey fan.

        Most of what I hear about Smid is very positive. Clearly the Flames got the best player in the trade for the foreseeable future.

        Seems weird we are still try to make it feel that the Oilers won or outsmarted the Flames in the trade.

        Let’s look ad how we solved our 2014 goalie mess….

        We got our starting goalie for a draft pick

        We got our back up goalie for two late round draft picks

        We got our 4th goalie our system currently playing in the E for our 3-4-5 best defenseman currently, on an ok contract, wearing an A, in the prime of his playing year who is currently comfortably on your NHL team

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Well said.

          There must have been a sale on Kool-aide today. The comments on Smid are more than ridiculous.
          “This was MacT abandoning a sinking ship before anyone knew it was going down”. Calgary got the best player in the trade and now we try to rationalize the trade with stupid comments like this. “Hey MacT, while you’re at it why don’t you tell me the winning numbers for next weeks 6-49 lottery?” Too funny.

  • Dan the Man

    “…particularly since the Oilers have pretty decent depth on the blue line.”

    It’s been a painfully long time since we could say this. I’m getting misty eyed.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Im not sure the “Oilers” have blueline depth. The farm team does sure, but the NHL depth for this franchise is still laughable. You cant call a team deep when of its depth hasnt played in the NHL.

  • The Soup Fascist

    This whole “gained xx lbs over summer” thing needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I can gain 5 lbs in 1 minute by drinking 2L of water right before I jump on the scale.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Willis : When does rookie camp open this year ? Will Edmonton Oilers .com give us a live feed for Junior Stars Tourney in Penticton again this year , as well as U of A game ? Would Gernat be on that team to make our assessments easier ?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Great, even more hope to bank on.

    What category should we lump him into….future H of F’er, Captain or another insert wishful comparison type player here?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Nice to see another prospect coming along and whether he plays with the Oilers or becomes trade bait he is another asset. As far as Smid goes I can’t be the only Oiler fan who really liked Laddy’s attitude but is glad he’s gone. I see there are trolls on here you are fooling no one.

    • 916oiler

      Not a troll, but a realist. I am a fan of the team ( the players) but certainly not management. If our management is so smart why did we finish 3rd last last year and the worst record in the league over the last 8 seasons. When other teams fail to deliver (year after year) they eventually change the management. When Kblowe fails to deliver he gets promoted! As a fan I expect more. I expect accountability. Perhaps you are happy with the Oil being perpetual losers but I am not.

  • justDOit

    During World Juniors in Calgary a couple-three years ago Marincin and Gernat really stood out to me due to their size and good skill-sets. I recall thinking that if that pairing ever made it to the big club that wouldn’t be a bad thing – looks like that now may be a reasonable possibility.

    Good work Martin(s). Keep it up.