Luke Gazdic is a young, effective enforcer. The role may be heading toward extinction but the Edmonton Oilers still employ one. Will Gazdic be here in a year?
Later this month, Luke Gazdic turns 26. His role on the Oilers is as an enforcer and he has shown some ability to win puck battles in the offensive zone. He’s not exceptional at passing or taking a pass but his speed and the battle give him a few tools to work with when game action occurs.
The Oilers used Gazdic last season in the least stressful moments possible:
As you can see, Gazdic wasn’t close to a tough zone start (only three forwards were a year ago) and he’s almost off the chart in terms of ease of opposition. Edmonton wanted Gazdic for the nuclear deterrent and he filled that role well (I haven’t read much negative about him as a fighter, and it’s a damn tough job. The Lucic video above is an example).
MCLELLAN’S JOHN SCOTT USAGE
In San Jose, Todd McLellan employed John Scott in the identical manner to Gazdic’s season:
It’s basically the same slot McLellan used Mike Brown for in the 2013-14 season, so we have some ammo on McLellan’s deployment of the player type.
Just for fun, thought I’d see where Lucic runs and as you can see he is very much part of the heart of the game—Edmonton doesn’t have this player.
WILL EDMONTON KEEP AN ENFORCER?
“The strength of the pack is all the wolves not just one of them.”- #Oilers McLellan on having a deterrent on roster to protect young talent
— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) July 2, 2015
When Todd McLellan was quoted on this subject earlier in the month, a lot of people concluded this spelled the end of the line for Gazdic, but I took it as possibly meaning the team would add a forward like Curtis Glencross or Chris Stewart—a player who could be part of the important minutes of the game. Based on Todd McLellan’s recent past, there’s a role for a six-minute enforcer and that role in Edmonton belongs to Luke Gazdic.
I think he’ll be on the roster opening night. Agree?