Justin Schultz did not get a chance to ease himself into the NHL.

The Edmonton Oilers defenceman was dropped into the fire last year asked to play first-pairing minutes without the benefit of a training camp. This year he’ll be well prepared for the regular season.

“Having training camp is really nice” said Schultz prior to departing for Oklahoma City where the Oilers face the Dallas Stars Friday. “Last year going straight from the AHL straight into and playing my first NHL game it was quick. It was nice to have this training camp to get to know the new systems get to know our new coach and how he runs things and getting ready for the season.”

Heading into his second year with the Oilers the talented defenceman is expected to take on an even bigger role with the club.

As one of the few offensive blue-liners on the roster he’ll be counted on heavily to pitch in from the back end.

On Tuesday Schultz set up Taylor Hall for the Oilers opening goal in a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers.

The Oilers go into face the Stars and former captain Shawn Horcoff having won their last four preseason games.

“I feel really good my legs are stronger and the team is playing pretty well” Schultz said. “It’s only preseason but it’s nice to have some confidence going into our first regular-season game. It’s good things are going well so far.”

A year bigger stronger and more experienced Schultz will be one of the anchors on the blue-line this season. The Oilers pared their roster down to nine defencemen with Corey Potter expected to start the year on injured reserve due to a back injury. Denis Grebeshkov is nursing a groin injury as well.

Regardless Schultz will be playing on the Oilers top pairing alongside free-agent acquisition Andrew Ference.

To prepare for the workload Schultz spent a lot of time in the gym this off-season.

“I did a little bit of everything” he said. “I didn’t want to get too big I wanted to stay fast and quick. At the same time I wanted to put on more muscle so I’m stronger in the corners and I think I did that. It was a good summer for me.”

The Oilers are hoping good summers all around translate into a strong season.

With a new head coach in Dallas Eakins the Oilers needed the preseason to get their systems in place. This year will be about puck possession and aggressive retrieval for the Oilers.

“It’s not too different than last year but we definitely have a lot of skill and we want to have the puck we don’t want to be chasing it all game” Schultz said. “I think right now we’re doing a good job of going and getting it and giving it to our skilled guys up front and they’re playing well.

“We’re having fun out there and we’re winning. It is only preseason but it’s always fun to win. Hopefully this can carry on to the regular season.”