April 12, 2014
Edmonton Oil Kings forward Brett Pollock wasn’t exactly on many NHL scouts’ radars at the beginning of the year. He was coming off a 44-game rookie season where he only scored two goals and four points on a limited fourth-line role.
As his sophomore season has progressed, though, Pollock has continued to make headway in draft rankings. The proof is in the pudding in how the 18-year-old jumped to 34th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting Service’s final ranking; he hurled over 37 prospect from his previous 71st mid-term ranking.
The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Pollock's breakout year, which entailed notching 25 goals and 55 points in 71 contests, came together largely because his role with the Oil Kings significantly changed. He went from playing sparingly to being a key offensive contributor in their top six. This opportunity did come about for Pollock because Edmonton lost several key forwards in the offseason to the pros, but he also earned it by showing up to camp in good shape and with a motivated mindset.
“I knew there would be more opportunity this year with guys moving on and I wanted to show what I can do,” says Pollock, who turned 18 in March. “I wanted to earn a bigger role, so I worked hard in the summer to get ready for camp. And as the year has gone on I have played on the top line and got to play in the role I was hoping for.”
It goes without saying that confidence has played a major role in Pollock’s sophomore season. He is clearly more patient with the puck on his stick and doesn’t hesitate to shoot when opportunity strikes.
“Confidence is definitely a big thing,” says the Sherwood Park, Alta., native. “When you’re not playing much, it’s hard to stay confident. But this year I’m more comfortable in the league and that makes a difference for making smart decisions with the puck.”
In the Oil Kings’ first and second-round playoff matchups against the Prince Albert Raiders and Brandon Wheat Kings respectively, Pollock feels he has ‘improved in every passing game.’
“I think I’ve played really well in the playoffs,” says Pollock, who has five goals and 10 points in nine post-season matches. “With (Curtis) Lazar and (Edgars) Kulda, we’ve generated some good chances and have made things happen. Consistency is one thing I’ve been trying to improve on and I think in the playoffs here I’ve improved in every passing game.”
Having the luxury of playing alongside the likes of Ottawa Senators first-rounder Curtis Lazar and Phoenix Coyotes first-rounder Henrik Samuelsson, Pollock has seen firsthand what it takes to garner the attention of NHL scouts.
“Those (Lazar and Samuelsson) are great players to just watch and see how they do things,” he says. “You see the work they put into their routines and it helps me see what it takes to get to that next level. I definitely feel fortunate to have teammates like them.”
1. How would you describe yourself as a player?
“I’m more of an offensive forward. I like to shoot the puck and find my teammates when they are open. I also think I play hard at both ends.”
2. Do you try to model your game after a player in the NHL?
“I like how (Columbus Blue Jackets forward) Ryan Johansen plays. He’s a skilled player that generates a lot of offense. He’s played really well this year. And I think we have some comparable things about us.”
3. Who is your favourite NHL team?
“I like the Chicago Blackhawks. Ever since they got Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, I’ve liked watching them. They’re an exciting team.”
4. You’re from Sherwood Park, are you friends with other well-known hockey players from there like former Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk and Colorado Avalanche prospect Duncan Siemens?
“I know Mark a little bit. He was on the ice with stuff at times when I was still in minor hockey. I also know (Calgary Hitmen forward) Linden Penner. We’re pretty good friends.”
5. What’s your favourite movie or TV show?
“I’m really into Suits right now. It’s an interesting show. But I can’t really think of my favourite movie.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen