by A.J. Atchue || for NHL.com
Colten Teubert had just played three games in as many nights with the Manchester Monarchs and was enjoying a day off on Feb. 28, playing video games with a few teammates.
But the rookie defenseman’s leisurely day was abruptly halted with the news that he’d been dealt by the parent Los Angeles Kings to the Edmonton Oilers prior to the NHL’s trading deadline.
What had begun as a day to catch his breath quickly evolved into a whirlwind of following the latest coverage on TSN – standout forward Dustin Penner was going the other way in the deal – and preparing to leave town.
“I wasn’t really expecting it, but obviously it’s part of the business,” Teubert said. “I knew L.A. was trying to grab one of the big names at the trade deadline, and for me to get the opportunity to come to the Oilers organization, I’m just super excited and it’s a fresh start for me.”
Less than three years after the Kings made him the 13th overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, Teubert was packing his bags for the Oklahoma City Barons, Edmonton’s first-year AHL affiliate.
And after the 6-4, 201-pound Teubert had totaled two goals in his first 39 AHL games with Manchester, he matched that output in just two contests in an Oklahoma City jersey, including a game-tying goal with 17.1 seconds left in regulation on Mar. 5 vs. Abbotsford, a tilt the Barons eventually won in overtime.
Not a bad way to introduce yourself to a new organization and new teammates.
“I think I was playing on a bit of adrenaline coming to a new team and getting the opportunity to play in a few more important situations,” Teubert said. “It certainly helped – I scored a couple big goals, got that out of the way. Hopefully I just keep playing solid and get better each game.”
Oklahoma City head coach Todd Nelson, who admits that he had no idea what he was getting in Teubert other than what was reported by scouts and Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini, has developed an appreciation for the rookie’s skill set over the past 10 days.
“He shoots the puck real hard, has a great shot. He moves the puck with authority and snaps it tape to tape,” said Nelson. “He’s recognizing when to jump into the play and when to try and create a scoring opportunity on the offensive side. And his skating, for a big guy, is pretty decent right now. He’s got a strong stride and is pretty agile.
“He also brings a lot of jam to his game, plays physical in the corners and sometimes in front of the net, and is willing to stick up for his teammates. Colten brings that type of jam that every coach wants and I think every team needs.”
A native of White Rock, B.C., Teubert grew up as a Vancouver Canucks fan and played junior hockey for the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, increasing his point production each year and topping 100 penalty minutes in each of his final three seasons.
Teubert, who turned 21 years old on Mar. 8, was teammates all four years in Regina with Jordan Eberle, now a promising young offensive threat for the Oilers. They grew close during that time together, and naturally Teubert is thrilled to be back in the same organization as Eberle.
“We’re best friends. We hang out every summer, try to make a trip to each other’s places,” he said. “It’s pretty cool that they can’t seem to break us apart. For me to hopefully get the chance to get called up and play beside him again, that’d be pretty awesome.”
Teubert suffered a hand injury late in the 2009-10 season, but X-rays came back negative and he continued to play. In the midst of offseason training some nine weeks later, however, Teubert realized there was still a problem.
Further tests revealed that he had fractured the scaphoid bone in his wrist – which sits just below the thumb – and had been going about his business with the fracture in place ever since.
“It was just misdiagnosed – we missed it on the X-ray, and it’s a really tough bone to catch,” he said. “So I had a broken hand for about nine weeks, which definitely didn’t help. Going through surgery brought a bit of adversity, but I just really focused on working hard, keeping my cardio right.
“Lots of things happen in your career, and you never imagine that you can miss something like that. But it happens, you just have to keep your head up and keep working.”
The resulting surgery and recovery period sidelined Teubert for Los Angeles’ offseason development camp as well as training camp in September and the beginning of the season.
He made his AHL debut for Manchester on Nov. 19 after missing the first 17 games, certainly not an ideal way to begin one’s pro career. But Teubert tried to adjust early on and make the best of a tough situation.
“It was difficult. I was working hard to stay in shape and to be prepared for when I (was ready to join the lineup),” he said. “I think I’ve adjusted well so far – there’s obviously a learning curve with older players, more experienced guys, and it’s a faster game – and I think with that, I just kept it simple and tried to play as consistently as I can every night.”
Some highly-touted rookies who had overcame such an odd, lengthy injury setback and had just started to become comfortable at the AHL level might admit to a shake in confidence at being traded away so quickly by the organization that made them a high draft pick in the first place.
With Teubert, it’s simply not the case.
“I don’t think so at all. The Oilers obviously wanted me in order to give up Dustin Penner, who’s an unbelievable hockey player,” he said. “There’s something there which shows they have faith in me.”
Unlike the playoff-contending Kings, Edmonton is currently in a state of building toward the future, a situation which also could bode well for a developing prospect like Teubert.
“Coming into a fresh organization and seeing where the Oilers are, they’re in a rebuilding stage, and he’s part of that,” Nelson said. “There’s great opportunity for him, probably more so than a lot of teams in the league. I think he sees that in the future.”
Since Teubert joined the Barons, Nelson has employed the rearguard in all situations – even strength, power play and penalty kill. His booming shot is an asset on the man advantage, and while his play on the penalty kill and overall decision-making is still a work in progress, there have been encouraging signs.
As Nelson noted, defensemen often take longer to develop than forwards, and Teubert is still only 42 games into his pro career.
“He’s a real good kid, eager to learn, and I think there’s a real high potential for this kid moving forward,” the coach said. “We want to bring him along the right away, but I think there’s a tremendous upside for Colten to have a great career in the NHL.
“And even though he’s a first-year player and just came to the organization, you can see he has leadership qualities. That’s something that could be a good sign for the Oilers in the future.”
For Teubert, the late-season transition continues – he’s currently living out of a single suitcase in an Oklahoma City hotel while awaiting the arrival of his truck and other belongings from New Hampshire.
To his credit, the 21-year-old takes it all in stride and acknowledges that changing organizations is sometimes part of life in pro hockey.
“I’m really confident. My goal has been to be an NHL hockey player ever since I was a little kid. I always said I was going to do whatever it takes, and it’s going to stay that way,” Teubert said.
“I’m going to keep working. I’m not sure if I’m ready just yet, but I think if I keep continuing to play solid like I have been, I’ll grow into being a good NHL player.”