After an off-season when his name was attached to pretty much every story about the need for Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland to trim his payroll, Warren Foegele knows he has to bring more to the table in his second season in Oilers’ silks than he did in his first.
It’s not that the speedy 26-year-old forward was a flop after arriving from Carolina. It was more a case of him being only OK, underwhelming. With 12-14-16 over 82 games, Foegele didn’t take the offensive step up many – me included — believed he might, and we didn’t see him utilized as a penalty killer the way he had been with the Hurricanes.
Foegele has been slotted in as a third-liner to this point at his NHL career, which sits now at 282 games. He performed like it, but with Holland right up against the salary cap and Foegele earning $2.75 million for the next couple years, so-so gets magnified when a GM is looking for more bang for the buck.
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Coach Jay Woodcroft and Foegele sat down before training camp opened and talked about how to make that happen, how to take a step up. It’s pretty straightforward. Woodcroft intends to provide the opportunity. It’s up to Foegele to seize it. Sounds like a pretty reasonable deal to me.

WHAT THEY SAID

Mar 7, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Warren Foegele (37) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
“I think it’d be fair to say it was a little bit of a roller-coaster year,” understated Foegele, who played 19:25 in a 4-0 loss to the Flames in Calgary Wednesday. “Obviously, a little bit of an adjustment. I thought I had a good start last year, and then as a team we all kind of went through struggles.
“My best hockey is when I play tenacious and take pucks to the net. Whether I play seven minutes or 15, it’s got to be the same game.” 
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Foegele played up in the line-up against the Flames with Woodcroft’s top forwards not in the mix. To be honest, he didn’t do very much to distinguish himself. Foegele was minus-1 with no shots and no hits. He played 1:45 on the PK and 3:28 on the PP. I’m not sure if he’ll be in the line-up for Friday’s rematch at Rogers Place.
“We just sat down, we mapped out a game plan for his season, we mapped out a game plan for his training camp,” Woodcroft said before the game in Calgary. “I think he’s looked very good through these first six-or-seven days. He’s someone whom we’re giving a shot to on the penalty kill, especially in preseason here, in order to enhance his role and get him some more minutes. 
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“When I sat with Warren in the summertime, I just said: ‘Get ready, because you’re going to get your chance here in training camp.’ As you saw in that first pre-season game against Winnipeg, he played a lot on the penalty kill and we’re going to continue to give him looks. Now, it’s on him to make good on them.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

“You’ve got to be on one of the special teams to be involved. That’s something I’m shooting for here in training camp,” Foegele said. “That’s something I’ve done my whole career but didn’t get a chance to do last year. I’m trying to fight my way on to the PK.”
While we’ve yet to see enough of the “best hockey” Foegele talks about, it’s clear Woodcroft is in his corner and is trying to find a fit. It helps that Foegele can play either wing. It helps that he hit the gym and added five pounds of muscle this off-season.
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What Woodcroft and Holland need in the course of the Oilers final five pre-season games is something tangible. What they need now with money tight is a player who makes more sense in Woodcroft’s line-up than as a transaction. The sooner the better.

#NATIONVACATION TO LAS VEGAS

  • When: On Thursday, January 12th, we’re jumping on a flight at the Edmonton International Airport and making our way to Vegas. On Sunday evening, we’ll fly back from Vegas to Edmonton. So the dates that you need to block off for this trip are January 12th to 15th.
  • Where we’re staying: After landing in LV, we’ll jump on the free shuttle and make our way to the Park MGM before settling in for a good night’s sleep. 😉
  • What you get: Your roundtrip flight, hotel, shuttle, viewing party (Friday night), game entry — we got seats this time (Saturday night), and exclusive entry into our pre-trip ‘get to know everyone’ event.
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1499 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.

Previously by Robin Brownlee