Camp invite Legault thrilled with opportunity
Oil Kings left-winger Stephane Legault has been skipped in two straight drafts
Legault, 19, has been passed up in two straight drafts but is coming off a breakout season with the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. In 58 games in 2011-12, the left-winger potted 15 goals and 39 points, along with a +22 rating.
His production didn't end there. En route to the club's WHL Championship and Memorial Cup appearance, he stepped up with 14 points in 20 post-season contests to earn his spot as one of the Oil Kings' top playoff performers.
"I stepped up my game in the post-season and in the Memorial Cup, which was huge for my development and exposure," he said, looking back at a monumental season in Edmonton. "It was another opportunity, another big stage to show management and other people in the organization -- as well as in others -- to see that I can play that level and succeed doing it."
At 5'10" and 179 pounds, Legault's speed continues to be a strong point. But when challenged against more solidly built opponents at this level, it's critical to complement it with added strength and composure, both with and without the puck.
In working with the Oilers' diligent on-ice instructors at Millennium Place, all of it is being targeted.
"My puck skills and my shooting is a big part of [what needs to improve]," he said. "I worked on it and developed those skills quite a bit this past season, but getting the chance to do it here at a pro camp is something else. I really want to take advantage of it and soak in as much as I can.
"I also need to keep working on my skating, which is huge at the next level. The coaches here are awesome in helping us concentrate on our weaknesses. That way, we're working to improve on them instead of building bad habits."
The Edmonton product certainly has the right attitude. Last week, he had to sit and wait while teammates Griffin Reinhart (New York Islanders), Mitch Moroz (Edmonton) and Henrik Samuelsson (Phoenix) were chosen, while his name was left off the board for a second straight year.
Fellow Oil Kings Cody Corbett and Ashton Sautner had a similar experience.
"I watched a little on Friday and it was nice to see a couple teammates be picked," he said, humbly (and genuinely) congratulating his talented teammates. "On Saturday, I was driving to a buddy's lake and I didn't really want to sit around and watch. I had my phone close by just in case, but I wasn't really too interested in sitting around and watching it."
As disappointing, discouraging and disheartening as it was to be skipped again, a phone call minutes later changed his mood.
"Probably within an hour [after the draft]," he laughed, "I got a call from one of the scouts who said the Oilers wanted me to come to camp. I thought it was a really good opportunity. I was so excited -- I still am, and it's been a lot of fun so far.
"It's a real quick turnaround. But to have so many teammates (Moroz, Martin Gernat, Kristians Pelss and Travis Ewanyk) here with me to share in my first pro camp, it's pretty special."
Legault hasn't look out of place, either, quietly going about his business and attacking drills with the same intensity he provides night-in and night-out with the Oil Kings. Along with Cameron Critchlow, Wade Epp, Jared Coreau, Brett Ferguson, Brandon Magee and Connor and Kellen Jones, an impression on Oilers coaches and management could mean another invite to the team's rookie and main training camps in September.
That's the goal.
"It's been a pretty cool experience," Legault said. "Being a local kid, getting to watch the Oilers growing up and playing for the Oil Kings now -- it's been an amazing couple days.
"Being at an NHL camp is awesome and I hope to be back for another."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick