“Definitely one of the best moments of my life,” said a smiling Stuart Skinner when I asked him about being selected 78th overall by his hometown team, the Edmonton Oilers.
“It was pretty cool hearing my name and I was kind of shocked about it” added the 18-year-old puck stopper. “Once I put on that jersey, it was kind of a surreal feeling.”
As you can imagine, being a kid from Edmonton, to be drafted by the Oilers was an absolute thrill. But Skinner said the first moment that really hit him was during this past summer when he was in Penticton for the rookie tournament.
“When I was playing Winnipeg in Penticton, once I put on that game jersey, it was like wow, I’m actually putting on an Oilers jersey,” Skinner said. “It was a pretty incredible moment for me.”
That first game in an Oilers jersey could not have gone any better for the 6’3 goalie. He made 26 saves as the Oilers shutout the Winnipeg Jets in the opener of the annual Penticton Tournament
It was no secret that Stuart was an Oilers fan growing up. It took all but one question for him to name drop Dwayne Roloson, who was his favourite player as a kid.
“When I was younger I’d always tell my teachers that I have the same pads and stuff as [Roloson],” he said. “I liked how he batted the puck out of the air, I liked his style. I thought he was really cool.”
When I asked if we would see him try to bat the puck out of the air like Roloson did back in 2006 Skinner chuckled “In practice, not in games though. I’m not ready for that yet.”
THINGS TO COME…
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 17, 2017
Now back in the WHL after his first pro camp, success with the Hurricanes isn’t the only thing that Skinner has his eyes on. The World Juniors are just around the corner and he knows he has a chance.
“It’s something I’m not looking at right now, it’s kinda just in the back of my mind,” Skinner said “Obviously, I want to play for my country, it’s such a huge role for a kid like me to play for your country at the World Juniors.”
To get there, he may be competing with another Oilers prospect, Dylan Wells, who’s currently in Peterborough and will no doubt be looking to have a maple leaf on his chest come December.
For now, though, Skinner wants to stay in the moment, and the moment last night was a chance to play at Rogers Place and stand in a crease where he one day hopes to be wearing an NHL jersey.
“I want to be playing here for the rest of my life.”