Sam O'Reilly and other draft picks share thoughts on Oilers development camp

The 2024 NHL draft picks didn't have to wait long to start their development with the Oilers, although this year's camp had a different setup to previous ones.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Just over a week ago was a proud moment for a whole host of aspiring young hockey players hoping to make it in the NHL, as they had their names called out in the annual entry draft. This included the seven prospects selected by the Edmonton Oilers.

The highlight of the draft for the majority of Oilers fans was when they moved into the first round, to pick Sam O'Reilly. As much as it's open to debate whether the forward was taken too high, the organisation clearly thinks a lot of him.

Second round pick Eemil Vinni is certainly also an intriguing selection, with him ranked as the top eligible European goalie for this year's draft. The other selections were forward Connor Clattenburg (fifth round), defenceman Albin Sundin and forward Dalyn Wakely (both sixth round), along with forward William Nicholl and defenceman Bauer Berry (both seventh round).

A different approach to development camp for Oilers

The prospects didn't have to wait long to get their first significant interactions with the Oilers organisation. With the exception of Vinni, they were all in attendance at this year's development camp, which took place between Wednesday and Friday this past week.

O'Reilly and company were among 17 prospects in total who attended the camp, who were a mixture of previous Oilers draft classes and undrafted players. What was particularly interesting about this year's camp though, was the setup.

As per the team's official website, this year the focus was on off-ice activities rather than on the ice. This included medicals, fitness testing, training sessions such as mental performance, and team-building activities like pickleball and golf.

We'll admit we're not entirely on board with forgoing on-ice activities altogether at Rogers Place, particularly when it comes to this year's draft class. However, we'll also acknowledge the organisation has people much more qualified and better place, when it comes to determining what's best for the prospects.

Getting the draft picks' thoughts

Along these lines, O'Reilly is on board with the setup. Speaking to the team's media, he said: "I'm excited to play pickleball, I've been practising with my buddies in London. Golf I'm a little bad, I haven't been out as many times, but it's good for us to go and do those types of activities, get to know all the other guys here. Some staff are coming along with us, so it's a good team-builder to have, and it's good to have fun and be outside."

For Clattenburg, what really stands out for him, is the quality of the facilities at Rogers Place. Also speaking to the team's media, he said: "Definitely, it's all first class over here. Everything's so nice and everyone's so welcoming. I've really never seen anything like it, so it's pretty exciting."

For Sundin, he's delighted just to be involved with the Oilers. As per the team's media, he said: "It's fantastic. I didn't really know where I was going in the draft. I didn't have any expectations, but I was at home on the couch with my girlfriend and we just saw the name on the TV and I got a little shocked."

For Wakely, he is extremely appreciative of the opportunity, after having to wait two extra years to be drafted. He said: "It's probably been a good thing honestly looking back. I'm where I need to be now. I think at the end of the day, the last two years have been what they were. For me, it was important just to keep doing what I'm doing, don't let the draft stuff sway me from the day-in, day-out things ... I'm super pumped to be an Oiler and I'm happy to be here."

In respect of Nicholl, he has the advantage of having his London Knights teammate O'Reilly around as a familiar face. He said: "We both support each other, we support each other very well throughout the year. He's one of my best friends, so I was pumped for him, but just being here with him makes it even more special."

Loen Draisaitl's agent all bluster regarding contract talks. Leon Draisaitl's agent all bluster regarding contract talks. dark. Next

Finally, Berry knows what he needs to do to become a better player, and how to approach it. He said: "There's older guys and bigger guys than me, so I'm trying to look out to them and get stronger. Also seeing how it's run, they've got a great staff here ... I'm a big guy, so I need (improve) my skating and my transition, trying to make plays dead before the red line and trying to make it hard for the forwards in their offensive zone."

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