After four seasons in the KHL spent with Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa, this summer Anton Slepyshev signed an Entry Level contract with the Edmonton Oilers, who drafted him in the third round of the 2013 NHL draft. In this translated interview, originally appearing on the Russian website Russia-hockey.ru, Oilers prospect Anton Slepyshev talks about playing with Connor McDavid, the Oilers rookie and training camps, and his jersey number.
* For the original Russia-hockey.ru article, click here.
Slepyshev looks very intrigued about skating at the Oilers training camp. Before getting to the Oilers, Slepyshev had a solid KHL career, with 49 points in 159 games. Last year was especially good with 15 goals and 25 points for Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Remember that the KHL is a low-scoring league and few players break the point-per-game mark.
I have the best possible feelings about the camp here in Edmonton. A very good city, a great environment. I love the games’ atmosphere, a sell-out crowd even during the pre-season rookie tournaments. It was very pleasant to feel the crowd support.
The new Oilers forward didn’t gather experience in the KHL only. He also represented team Russia on different level, at the U18 and U20 WJCs, winning three bronze medals. He was the captain of both U18 and U20 teams in two of three tournaments. Last year he also skated with the senior Russian national team for eight games at the Euro Hockey Tour, scoring three goals. He was also included in the Spengler Cup All-Star Team. Back in Edmonton, Slepyshev had a successful first part of the camp, where he regularly scored playing for Edmonton. But of course, he knows that getting to play for the Oilers won’t be easy, especially at his first year in North America.
I think that I did well for the first part of the camp and the rookie tournament, but after all, all the most important things are still ahead of us. For example, at the Oilers training camp there will be 33 forwards, but only 12 spots in the team.
Against the Vancouver Canucks, Anton Slepyshev scored his first goal in North America, during the NHL rookie preseason tournament. His assistants were defenceman Joey LaLeggia and forward Josh Winquist.
I really have to thank my team mates [for my first goal], they gave me a great pass. I just had to have a one-timer, and it went in.
This is how the rest of the Q&A with Slepyshev looked like:
– Did you have a chance to play with Connor McDavid?
– During the rookie camp the lines were changing all the times, therefore I played with different partners. Maybe some of these lines will be part of the team next season. I did play with Connor, and it was truly great.
– Steven Stamkos not long ago called McDavid the best 18-years-old player of all times. Do you agree with him?
– I think I am not in the right position to rate other players. But I can say that, of course Connor is a big talent. He has everything: skating, stickhandling, vision of the ice, everything at the highest level. A natural-born center forward.
– Do you know that McDavid was drafted in the KHL by Medvescak Zagreb?
– I do, but does McDavid know it? I doubt it (laughs).
– What jersey number did you wear for the Oilers? #58 like for Salavat Yulaev Ufa and the national team?
– No, rookies can’t pick their own numbers, we can choose from the leftovers. It’s a normal thing, it’s the same in all the teams. I play with the jersey #42 and I hope it will bring me good luck too.
– Who is your room-mate now?
– My room-mate now is Bogdan Yakimov, he helps me a lot in everything. I am very grateful to him.
– Most of Russian playing in the NHL tell that the ice in Edmonton is the best and the fastest in the league. Can you confirm it or you’re still in the adaptation period?
– The first thing you notice getting there is the speed of the teams. Even during the rookie tournaments the game vas very, very fast. Regarding the ice, it’s still early for me to get to any conclusion.
– Do you still follow the KHL?
– I manage to follow only my former team Salavat Yulaev Ufa. It’s almost my home club now after all those years. I know that they had a slow start of the season, but I am sure that they will catch up.
Anton Slepyshev statistics:
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso