Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
FUTURE WATCH
CLICK HERE TO VIEW OILERS PROSPECT STATS

Future Watch: Martin Gernat

Oilers' 122nd overall pick, Oil Kings D man Martin Gernat savours strong start

Thursday, 27.10.2011 / 2:30 AM / Future Watch
By Ryan Dittrick  - edmontonoilers.com
X
Share with your Friends


Future Watch: Martin Gernat
Martin Gernat celebrates a goal with his Oil Kings teammates on Oct. 21, 2011 vs. the Portland Winterhawks (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).
A demanding 72-game WHL schedule is challenging enough, but as 18-year-old Martin Gernat pilots a new home, language and on-ice understanding, his strive to better his arsenal as an elite-level NHL prospect becomes even tougher.

Standing at 6'5" and weighing-in at 187 pounds, Gernat is no slouch. Whether he's anchoring the Edmonton Oil Kings' blueline as a soaring, heavy-hitting menace or generating chances as one of the WHL's most lethal weapons, Gernat is establishing his name in short order.

Selected by the Oilers 122nd overall between Tobias Rieder and Frans Tuohimaa in June, Gernat was ushered to Oil Country in late August. Since then, he's participated in Oil Kings and Oilers camps, including a three-game trial at the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, BC.

Oh, and he's also leading the WHL in scoring among defencemen with six goals and 17 points in 14 games this season. Not bad.

"I was really surprised when my name got called in June," Gernat said, smiling. "I was with my family in Germany when it happened, so it was really cool. It's good that I'm here now, because a lot of NHL players come from Europe. I was thrilled when I got called.

"I think I've played really well here, and I keep getting more coaching and ice-time. It's been good for me. I get to play on the power-play, PK and have done really well. I feel a lot better now that I'm here and have had time to adapt."

Oil Kings Head Coach Derek Laxdal has been impressed with Gernat's torrid early-season pace, but preaches patience when it comes to his rookie rearguard's all-encompassing game.

"Marty's had a really good start to the season," he said. "He's been able to put up points and he's adapted so well, exceptionally well, to the Western Hockey League; in the locker room and on the ice, he's been a great addition.

"He's been a nice surprise. We were really struggling to score goals as a group early on, but he's now carrying us."

Scoring production has never been an issue. With Slovakia's U-20 and U-18 squads, Gernat was regularly posting double-digit point totals in shortened campaigns with HC Kosice and Presov. His best U-20 season came in 2011-12 when he issued three goals and 18 points in 28 games; adding another three goals and three assists in 12 post-season contests.

"Putting up points comes naturally to him," Laxdal said. "It's in the D zone where he needs to add a couple more parameters. His biggest challenge is going to be bringing a consistent and intense battle night-in and night-out."

That shouldn't be an issue, either, as Gernat recorded a goal and +1 rating in two games a little over than a month ago in Penticton; a taste, sure, but a valuable one that brought him up to speed on the up-tempo NHL atmosphere.

"It was a big experience for me," Gernat said. "It was good to play with all-new, older guys. I was feeling really good out there and I got to play a lot. It was a great time and I feel like I was able to learn so much about my game and improve in so many areas. I'm really happy I was there."

"It was pretty tough, because we didn't see him very long before he went to Oilers camp," Laxdal added. He's a very talented kid that skates well and can pass at the NHL level already. He's got a great head for the game and we saw such an improvement in his skill-set once he returned."

Gernat thought so, too, but is well aware of what needs to improve in order to climb the Oilers' organizational depth chart. Head Coach Tom Renney's renewed commitment to 'D' has helped the smooth-skating Slovakian become even more determined.

"I talked with Tom Renney a couple weeks ago and the discussion was really good," he said. "The coaches know I can score goals and put up points, but they want to see me play better in my own end. I need to get more practice in that area to improve, and to help my team win."

Laxdal, like the orange and blue's managerial brass, agreed and commented on Gernat's commitment to a full-fledged, season-long development plan.

"He's putting the time in on the ice in practice and it's going to carry over into the games as well. We've got a strong backend this year and that's going to help him with the transition [to North America] as well. I like Marty's game, but I like the way he works even more."

Each morning presents a new and exciting challenge (at the rink or otherwise), but it's something Gernat loves and has prepared well for since his Jr. days back home.

"It's a little more complicated playing here, because there's a lot of hard, body-contact. At home there's more skating, passing and ideas on the ice and things like that. It's a little harder here.

"I was in English classes in Slovakia," he added. "It was part of my school. It was so good, because I learned so much before coming to Edmonton, and now I can communicate better with my teammates and coaches."

In recent seasons and at the selection table, the Oilers' organizational card has changed, to a degree. Building size on the backend has become a priority; so, too, has the team's courage to parlay later-round picks into top-end building blocks.

Gernat is a good example. While Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was chosen, leaving Adam Larsson and others on the board in 2011, the Oilers' blueline depth was addresses by committee, both this summer and in year's past.

In 2010, the Oilers chose Martin Marincin with the team's second-round pick, 46th overall. At 6'4" and 187 pounds, he's a giant; not unlike Gernat, with whom he shares a close relationship.

"I used to send him text messages all the time," Gernat laughed. "It's good that we're so close to each other now, because when I was back home, we spent so much time on Skype and Facebook. This is much easier."

They're both big-body, puck-moving blueliners who call Kosice, Slovakia home. With Oil Country's bright lights shining up ahead, they'll soon be prepared for primetime in the City of Champions.

"It would be nice to play together with the Oilers. It would be really, really cool."

Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick


Forwards


# Name age GP G A P +/- PIM team
73 Cameron Abney   20 3 0 1 1 1 22 Stockton Thunder (ECHL)
62 Mark Arcobello   23 6 0 3 3 -1 2 Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)
Alexander Bumagin   24 17 2 3 5 -1 4 Novokuznetsk Metallurg
51 Philippe Cornet   21 5 5 1 6 3 5 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
71 Drew Czerwonka   19 7 5 2 7 8 6 Kootenay ice (WHL)
69 Travis Ewanyk   18 - - - - - - edmonton oil kings (WHL)
12 Josh Green   33 6 1 5 6 1 0 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
70 Curtis Hamilton   19 3 0 1 1 0 0 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
56 Teemu Hartikainen   21 6 3 2 5 0 0 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
60 Tanner House   25 5 0 1 1 0 7 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Kellen Jones   21 8 3 5 8 0 14 quinnipiac university
46 Ryan Keller   27 6 2 4 6 0 8 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
64 Milan Kytnar   22 - - - - - - oklahoma city barons (AHL)
66 Ryan Martindale   20 4 0 1 1 -1 0 stockton thunder (ECHL)
42 Ryan O'Marra   24 6 2 1 3 3 9 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
63 Kristians Pelss   19 14 5 2 7 5 24 edmonton oil kings (WHL)
68 Tyler Pitlick   19 6 1 2 3 1 0 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
92 Toni Rajala   20 11 2 2 4 -5 4 ilves tampere (sm-liiga)
85 Liam Reddox   25 15 4 4 8 -5 12 vaxjo hc (SEL)
61 Tobias Rieder   18 12 7 6 13 5 8 kitchener rangers (OHL)
65 Hunter Tremblay   25 6 1 2 3 -1 11 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
75 Antti Tyrvainen   22 4 0 1 1 4 2 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
54 Chris VandeVelde   24 6 1 2 3 2 2 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Defencemen
# Name age GP G A P +/- PIM team
Kyle Bigos   22 4 1 1 2 0 12 merrimack college
82 Jeremie Blain   19 12 2 10 12 6 18 acadie-bathurst titan (QMjhl)
41 Taylor Chorney   24 - - - - - - oklahoma city barons (AHL)
88 Brandon Davidson   20 14 5 9 14 6 23 regina pats (wHL)
78 Martin Gernat   18 14 6 11 17 8 6 edmonton oil kings (WHL)
Oscar Klefbom   18 7 0 0 0 2 0 farjestads bk karlstad (SEL)
80 Martin Marincin   19 12 1 7 8 3 15 prince george cougars (WHL)
39 Johan Motin   22 5 0 2 2 2 6 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
87 David Musil   18 14 1 9 10 6 26 vancouver giants (WHL)
58 Jeff Petry   23 2 0 1 1 1 2 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
48 Alex Plante   22 6 0 0 0 0 23 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Dillon Simpson   18 6 0 0 0 0 0 u. of north dakota
84 Colten Teubert   21 6 2 1 3 3 12 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Goalies
# Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
1 Tyler Bunz   19 13 9 4 0 2.53 .925 medicine hat tigers (WHL)
34 Yann Danis   30 4 3 1 0 1.73 .941 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Samu Perhonen   18 - - - - - -
30 Olivier Roy   20 3 0 2 1 2.62 .911 stockton thunder (echl)
Frans Tuohimaa   20 2 2 0 0 2.50 .904 jokerit helsinki (sm-liiga)


GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS

INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG