It’s learning on the fly for two European players hoping to crack the Edmonton Oilers’ roster.
“Lots of skating, but I’m excited to be here,” said left-winger Joakim Nygard after two days of training camp.
“I’m learning a lot right now,” added centre Gaetan Haas. “I’m learning to play on the small ice. The game is faster; you have less time.”
Nygard, 26, was a pro in Sweden for seven years before signing with the Oilers in May. Last season, he was second in the league with 21 goals in 52 games. He was also known as one of the fastest players in the league.
“I’m an all-round player,” explained Nygard. “I’m a good skater, try to use my speed all over the ice. Backchecking, forechecking, win loose pucks, and create a lot of offensive chances. That’s how I played in Sweden. That’s how I want to play here.”
Haas, 27, has 10 years as a pro in Switzerland under his belt.
“I’m a guy with speed,” Haas said. “I always look at the defensive side before offence. I’m not scared about blocking shots. It’s always the team first, then myself.”
Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said both players looked good in practice on Saturday, and both will get into several of the Oilers’ seven pre-season games.
“I’ve coached a lot of European players who have come over,” said Tippett. “The first adjustment is the ice surface. Both of those guys haven’t played a lot on North American (ice). It’s not them making plays. It’s how quick things open because people are on top of you.”
The Oilers will hold a scrimmage Sunday at noon at the Downtown Community Arena. Doors will open to the public at 11:30 a.m.
WATCH (Sept. 13, 2019): Edmonton Oilers’ 2019 training camp in full swing