This summer has been eventful for Oilers forward Anton Slepyshev. After deciding to leave Salavat Yulaev, he signed an entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers, who drafted him in 2013 with the 88th overall pick. His cap hit for the Oilers is $925,000. Against all the odds, after a good training camp, Slepyshev has earned a full-time job in the NHL. Many were expecting to see him playing in the AHL for the Bakersfield Condors, at least initially, taking advantage of having his countryman Bogdan Yakimov as a teammate in the initial period. In this translated interview, originally appearing on the Russian website Sport-Express, Slepyshev talked about his first impressions of the NHL regular season, the differences between the KHL and the NHL, and his ties with Oilers coach Todd McLellan.
* For the original Sport-Express article by Natalia Shmeleva, click here.
Slepyshev is yet to score his first goal for the Oilers, but he has all the tools to get on the scoresheet once he’ll have more confidence and will see his ice time going up. After six regular season games, he only recorded three shots, and was a minus-2. He scored 15 goals and 25 points in 58 regular season games in the KHL last year, and the Oilers expect him to be able to contribute once his adaptation period will be fully over.
[Related: Slepyshev Fighting For NHL Job]
– Anton, what are your impressions after your first bunch of NHL games?
– I felt the difference between the preseason and competition games right away. I wasn’t very nervous about it, I always tried to hide it a bit, I needed some time to get involved in the games. Then I understood what are my weak points, what I needed to work on, and I felt that I can really play here.
– Usually the first thing a Russian rookie notice is the different speed of the game from the KHL to the NHL.
– Yes, this in the first game was, to me, not a shock, but at least a big surprise. Then after some games playing became even easier, there is no need to invent anything. I’m getting used to it step by step.
– Do you already communicate with your coach in English language?
– He talks, and I listen to him. I can understand “pressure,” “shift” and some other professional terms. If they say “Good job!”, then you’re doing well. If they stay silent, then not so much.
– Does your coach get angry in this case?
– No, our coach explains everything in a good and clear way. If there is a mistake, he explains how to correct it.
– What other differences do you see from the KHL?
– The different ice surface speeds the game up. You need to do everything half a second faster. In the offensive zone, there are almost no corners, you can’t hold the puck up. You need to make a decision fast: shoot or pass. On offense, it’s harder than in the KHL. But after all, hockey is hockey everywhere.
– Oilers coach Todd McLellan appreciates your big body and how you give your hearth on the rink.
– I always try giving one hundred percent and not paying attention to what people say. If I manage not only to accomplish my tasks, but also to get something more done in the offensive zone, then it’s even better. And size doesn’t matter (laughs).
– In Dallas, you attended an NFL game. Did you like it?
– I didn’t even know the rules, but I was explained everything. The stadium is very big, and the atmosphere is incredible.
– Do you still follow your former team Salavat Yulaev in the KHL?
– I do follow them, I know how they are doing and I cheer for them.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso