Robert Nilsson To Let His Actions Do the Talking

Robert Nilsson is in an interesting position. After last years lackluster performance, he was written off by fans, he was benched by MacTavish and for the most part, the blogging world of the NHL considered him a mistake in terms of contracts by the Edmonton Oilers.

His response? Put on 15 pounds of muscle, change his summer off-ice routine and show, not say that he's going to be without a shadow of concern from the new coaches, one of the standouts of the many similar style forwards currently on the Oilers roster. If his actions so far this summer suggest anything, I agree, that Nilsson has the potential to impress the most.

So far, Robert Nilsson hasn't said much. We know his skill-set is second only to maybe Ales Hemsky on the current roster. He has the ability to make amazing plays, is perhaps the best passer on the team and for all the critics quick to lay it on thick, Nilsson hasn't been as awful as some want us to think. His plus-minus was above sea level at plus -1. His special teams and shootout performance was better than respectable and he's still very raw in terms of NHL experience.

With all that said, Nilsson already knows what he showed last year isn't enough and a clean slate with new coaching and management gives him an opportunity to really prove and improve. So too, in getting ready for what Nilsson hopes will be a bounce back year, his responses to specific questions about where he sits with the Oilers this season, have shown me he's prepared and not going to be easily rattled.

When asked about his concern that the Oilers may be looking at Comrie, his response was something to the effect, it wasn't about being concerned or that he tried to think about where Comrie would fit, but admitted Comrie is an excellent player and would really help this team.

When asked about the surplus of similarly small forwards, he fully admited there was a number of players whose style of play might be similar, so he effectively diverted attention from it, by adding muscle mass and letting his summer training hint that he's ready to play a bit more of a physical role in terms of his on ice performance.

I made a predicition a while back that Nilsson would be someone to watch for in the Oilers near future. I suggested that a trade, a demotion or a bounce back performance might be on the horizon. I'm inclined to lean towards the latter of the three. If I had to select even just three of the forwards who should improve over last years performance, I'm inclined to make sure Nilsson is on my list.

I'm sure I'm going to be challenged on this opinion, but I'm ready to back it up and truly do feel that while we're quick to call the Ryan Smyth trade a gigantic failure, I'm not so quick to write off on the key components in that deal just yet..


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