EVERETT — Landon Oslanski knows he’s been given new life.
The 20-year-old defenseman got a new lease on his WHL career when he was claimed by the Everett Silvertips. Now he’s determined to show the Tips he belongs in the league for one more season.
“It’s definitely new life,” Oslanski said. “I just want to show that I plan to be here and want to be here.”
Oslanski is looking to impress during Everett’s training camp this week after being picked up off waivers from the Lethbridge Hurricanes 10 days ago. The 6-foot, 202-pound native of Camrose, Alberta, has been aggressive during camp, showing a willingness to rush the puck and jump into the play from his defensive position.
“It’s been great,” Oslanski said about his experience at camp so far. “It’s a really good town, a great group of guys, and I’m really enjoying it so far.
“I bring a lot of offense from the defensive end, and I bring a lot of leadership.”
Oslanski is hoping for the opportunity to use those qualities with the Tips.
Everett’s defense is in a transitional phase. Of the Tips’ top four defensemen from last season, Brennan Yadlowski and Josh Caron graduated as overagers, Dominik Bittner signed to play professionally in his native Germany, and Ryan Murray is trapped in NHL lockout limbo.
Therefore, Everett’s defense will be young and inexperienced this season. That’s where Oslanski enters the equation. Oslanski is a veteran of the WHL trenches, having appeared in 206 games the past three seasons with the Hurricanes. Last season he had six goals and 26 assists in 71 games. His addition gives Everett another experienced option if it’s determined the youngsters aren’t quite ready for prime time.
“We looked at the back end and were a little concerned about the experience factor,” Everett general manager Garry Davidson explained about his reasoning for claiming Oslanski. “So we added a guy with three years under his belt. We’ve got a chance to look at a 20-year-old with experience who we didn’t have to give up a draft pick for. Hopefully it works out for him and hopefully it works out for us.”
Oslanski, originally a third-round pick by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2007 bantam draft before being traded to the Hurricanes as partial payment for former Silvertip Kyle Beach, became available because he got caught in the numbers game in Lethbridge. The Hurricanes had six candidates for their three overage roster slots, and Oslanski ended up being one of the odd-men out.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Oslanski said. “There were six 20-year-olds there and I knew it was going to be either me or another defenseman. It ended up being me.”
Lethbridge’s glut of overagers worked to Everett’s advantage. Davidson expressed trade interest in Oslanski, but the Hurricanes were asking more than Davidson was willing to give up. Davidson waited the Hurricanes out, and when Lethbridge found no other takers and put Oslanski on waivers, Davidson made the claim.
“I saw him play one game partway through last season and thought he had a decent game,” Davidson said of Oslanski. “The price was right, we just had to put a claim in and we got him. I know (the Hurricanes) tried to move him earlier because they had three 20-year-old defensemen and I showed some interest, but I thoguht they wanted a little too much at the time. I guess I sort of waited, and as it turned out he was put on the waiver wire.”
However, Oslanski went from one overager battle straight into another. He is one of four overagers in camp, along with returning forwards Ryan Harrison, Cody Fowlie and JT Barnett. All three forwards were significant contributors last season, so there’s no guarantee Oslanski will earn one of the overager spots.
“Age to me doesn’t mean a whole bunch, as long as we feel we have the right group back there,” Everett coach Mark Ferner said about the situation on defense. “We have some young D and we have to play these D. For the experience part, yeah (having Oslanski) is a nice security blanket. But there’s no safe spots on this team. Just because we brought a guy in doesn’t mean he’s going to be on our hockey team.”
But Oslanski is going to do all he can to convince the Tips he deserves one of those spots.
“It’s definitely another overager battle,” Oslanski said. “There’s four 20-year-olds who are all good 20-year-olds. We’re all battling for a spot and all I can do is play my game.”
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.