There are plenty of reasons for the success of the Edmonton Oil Kings this season.
General manager Bob Green has made several shrewd acquisitions. Among them, the additions of forwards Henrik Samuelsson and Rhett Rachinski, while Tyler Maxwell and Jordan Peddle were acquired in trades earlier this year.
But the biggest headway could be on the blueline. Already boasting a trio of NHL prospects in Mark Pysyk, Keegan Lowe and Martin Gernat, the team also possesses Griffin Reinhart, a potential first round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
By no means is Cody Corbett the largest defenseman on the Oil Kings, but the six-foot-one, 210-pound Lakeland, MINN. native has been the biggest addition to the Edmonton blueline.
Corbett is one of the few hockey players to forgo his NCAA eligibility and use the CHL as a springboard for a long career. In fact, the former High School standout did so early in the season, joining the Oil Kings in late October.
It wasn’t a difficult decision for Corbett.
“There was a lot of exposure coming up here, good team and a lot of good players,” Corbett said. “It was a pretty tough decision, but in the end it was the right decision.”
Playing in the WHL is a significant upgrade from the Stillwater High Ponies of Minnesota High School Hockey where Corbett plied his trade last year, both in terms of exposure and in the level of play.
“It’s definitely a lot faster than high school hockey, quicker transitions,” Corbett said. “(It) took a while to get used too, but I’m used to it now.”
It’s not the only adjustment the draft eligible defenseman has had to make.
Corbett, who before this season had never been to Edmonton, has also had to deal with playing in front of larger crowds and a more intense fan base. Coming from the hockey-haven of Minnesota, Corbett did have experience playing in front of large crowds.
“In the States we usually had a crowd around two, three-thousand but nothing in a rink like this,” he said of the Oil Kings, who routinely draw over 6,000 spectators.
But with a plethora of draft eligible talent available from Edmonton this season, the Oil Kings are drawing plenty of scouting attention as well.
“I try not to worry about it, just go in and play my game day in and day out,” Corbett said, one of four defensemen on the club eligible for the draft. “If I get drafted, cool, it’s awesome. If not, I’ll just keep on working hard.”
The self-described “offensive defenseman” has all the physical tools to warrant his name being called at the event this June in Pittsburgh. Playing with Edmonton Oilers prospect Gernat on one of the nation’s top teams will only enhance Corbett’s chances.
For an American player to commit to a new country, scouts should not overlook Corbett’s participation with a new team in a new league as well.
That’s the last thing on his mind, though. With the long grind of the WHL season continuing, Corbett’s focus is on keeping the success rolling in the City of Champions.