By Greg Price
Taberite Brandon Davidson signed a one-year contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers last Thursday.
The former Regina Pats blueliner has been having to prove himself his whole hockey career with success, and will have to once again as a fourth-year pro under a completely new Oilers regime heading into the 2015-2016 NHL hockey season.
“The next big step for me was getting my feet wet and I was in a good position ending last season. This is another step for me and another contract hopefully towards a long-term one to stay in the NHL,” said Davidson.
“I still have a ways to go and people to impress, but I have the confidence I can make the jump this year.”
Davidson realized his NHL dream last year where he got called up a couple of times and played 12 games, including scoring his first NHL goal, along with getting some solid reviews from NHL analysts.
Davidson was not drafted in his first eligible year in the bantam draft for the WHL, but nevertheless, eventually made the Pats as a walk-on, where his skills and leadership abilities eventually earned him the captaincy and a trip to the playoffs.
Davidson was victorious in his next challenge, when, in his first professional season with Oklahoma City, Davidson battled and beat testicular cancer. Davidson came back stronger than ever in the AHL and eventually to the NHL.
Now comes the latest challenge for Davidson as he fights for a spot on the Edmonton Oilers, which features a new coach in former San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, new scouts, and a new GM in Peter Chiarelli, who added three defenders in Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart, while only jettisoning two (Martin Marincin and Keith Aulie) in the offseason.
“Bringing in all the new coaching staff and management is huge and I think it had to be done. They put the right guys in place and hopefully I can help with that drastic change,” said Davidson.
“For the players that were picked up here and there and through the draft, they are guys that I am going to have to compete against and it definitely makes it harder to get my (NHL) job sort of speak. But it has always been like that for me battling for a spot.”
Playing a heads-up game in his previous NHL experience, consistently making the safe, simple play offensively, and being strong in his own end defensively, it is the type of skill set that lends itself to a bottom defensive pairing in the NHL for the Oilers, given what hockey pundits have also praised in a solid work ethic and leadership qualities of the 24-year-old Davidson who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
“Those NHL games last year were huge for me moving forward. It got my toes wet and it gave me the feel of how things work and the speed and level of the NHL game,” said Davidson.
“That will play in my favour. I feel strong, and I feel like I can make a push for one of those spots. It’s going to be tough, but I feel I’m ready.”
And if the Oilers are not ready to give the Taberite a spot on the blueline at the start of the season, other NHL teams may come a’calling.
Now that he’s on his second contract, he is no longer waiver-exempt, and if he fails to make the club out of training camp, he must be exposed on waivers.