IS LUKE GAZDIC A PART OF THE FUTURE?

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:

oilers vollman fs 14-15

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:

sharks vollman fs 14-15

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.

BRUINS ENFORCER

bruins vollman 14-15

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?

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?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Rather difficult to do this job when seated on the bench for 52 mins a night. By the time he’s sent onto the ice the damage is already done.

    Look at what happened to the Predators in the playoffs once Shea Weber was taken out. The best players in todays game all wear a target when their teammates all look down at their skates after the whistle.

    • Bring on the playoffs! and I agree this is where a Glencross would come in handy.

      However, running this out 5X4 will get ugly quick.

      RNH – Hall – Eberle – Seabrook – Klefbom

      McDavid – Draisaitl – Pouliot – Yakupov – Sekera

      You see what I did there…………

  • I am ok with him as 14th until he is replaced by a 14th forward who does not need ice time to develop.

    Ie – I don’t want to see Draisaitl in the press box for the sake of not having an enforcer.

  • kawi460

    It be nice to see if Gazdic have a similar career to Chris Neil.

    Is Chris Stewart still available? He’d be a decent option, when times get tough he could actually take some shifts with Hall or McDavid and not be a liability on the ice

    • Randaman

      Ha maybe, until they get rag dolled in the scrum like last year.

      That will end that. If Glencross is still available, he would be a good addition on a 2 year deal until Nurse is ready to fill the role.

      I like Gazdic for the divisional games as a deterrent.

      Like I have said before, the “Powerplay” will be the #1 deterrent when it catches fire.

  • fran huckzky

    Unlike Scott and Brown,Gzdic has a good set of wheels and can get in on the forecheck. You can be assured that the other western teams will try and run McDavid and will be successful if there is no pushback

  • RaimoSummanenLives!

    Agree with article. As long as other teams use “players” (I use the term loosely) like John Scott, then Gazdic will be needed. Anyone remember Derek Boogaard crosschecking Ales Hemsky in the head? Anyone remember Booger trying that when Laraque was around?

  • bradleypi

    Send Luke to the front of the opponents net and Mcdavid and Draisidle will be banking it in off of him.Luke will have 20 goals next season.I dare them to take a cheap shot cause either they get a major ass sloping or McLellans power plays systems will deter any bullsh!t.So pumped to be an OIL fan.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    LT see you changed your mind from this morning. I think Gadzic is in the line up and I think he is improved from last year as he works hard to improve over the summer and has improved tear over year. I can see him in the Chris Neal Scott Thorton type of player who can play with speed and not be to much of a liability

  • petrklimashelmet

    If the West wasn’t really tough already, Lucic, Steve Downie and now Chris Stewart are all out here now. More trouble for the young and offensive Oilers. I think that the Oilers really missed out with Chris Stewart signing with Anaheim. I am tired of seeing the Oilers get pushed around by every team in the West.

    Is there anyone else they could sign? Maybe Eric Fehr could add some toughness, but he is not a fighter. Last time he dropped the gloves was 2007.

    For now, it looks like the Oilers do not have much choice other than Gazdic. I like Gazdic for his character and he is also a good fighter. The problem is that these days you got to be able to play at an NHL level too. Being only 26, perhaps he can still develop into a legit 3rd or 4th liner. Hopefully sooner than later.

    • Butters

      Semenko was drafted 25th overall (2nd round) in his draft year , and had some offensive ability beyond just physical . Gazdik went in 6th round and had little offensive capability . Doubt Gazdik the answer to helping on a line with McDavid , like Semenko was in limited times for Gretzky and our Oilers.

  • The Oilers can win Stanley when the Nuge’s bubble looks like Bergeron’s above. It could happen. Both are terrific, smart players.

    Gazdic played surprisingly well for several games in the late winter. He is a terrifying fighter. Having him at least prevents the panic that might happen when someone tries to do to McDavid what Kassian did to Gagner. The Oilers used several roster spots acquiring stick optional guys (MacIntyre, Brown (sort of) and Gazdic) better used on competent defensemen.

    Whether actually having the enforcer actually prevents the goonery is a hard hypothesis to prove. Having a good enforcer at least prevents panicked midseason enforcer tryouts.

  • The Soup Fascist

    That old school mentality is hanging by a thread. Deterrents no longer work team overall toughness is the only way. You bash our guys and we will bash your guys so let’s all play nice and respectful. Players like Gryba and Nurse who have edge will help but another heavy player with edge who can actually play in the top nine would be the answer.

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      Tough one. Reaves is a big kid. Gryba just had a bad start to that fight. Missed the grab and then fell down, taking a bunch of punches to the head in the process. He looks awesome.

  • petrklimashelmet

    When momentum needs to change and someone needs to get called out – I’d rather see Ference or Yak step up. The role of the traditional brut is predictable and uninspiring, the game is changing and so should the roles.

  • petrklimashelmet

    we really should’ve signed Stewart. Having a top 12 of:

    Pouliot/RNH/Eberle

    Hall/McDavid/Stewart

    Purcell/Lander/Yakupov

    Korpikoski/Hendricks/Letestu

    Would’ve been a real good mix of size, toughness, speed, and skill. Now we don’t have a big forward who can put up 30 points in our top 9.

    • fran huckzky

      We don’t need someone teaching our young guys that is OK to play hard only when you feel like it The old saying about your best move being the ones you don’t make really applies to Stewart.

    • Randaman

      Maybe you should’ve worn a visor longer. Would have prevented that obvious last puck to the forehead.

      Stick to Flames Nation Walter. The people there love your constant Oiler bashing.

      Oh, tell Johnny to keep his head up if anybody goes after Conner.

      • ATL Oiler

        Randaman you’re a fn hypocrite! I get on here and trash and bash all the flamer trolls and all I get from you is “No wonder those flame trolls are on here” A bunch of whining! And here you are doing the same thing! I know guys like you! all talk until the shooting starts and then its tuck tail and run! I stick up for my Oil country… I’m tired of cn Flamer jersey’s and flags on people in this city! 04 cup final people jumping on the flames bandwagon! Not this guy! Go TB!! “Who ya gunna cheer for cuz the Oil didn’t make it again” that’s all I hear! NOBODY!! I’m a Oiler fan! Half was for Randaman and other half was for all those bandwagon jumpers! Go Oil!!

          • flyin ryan

            It’s all good dude…I’m sick of guys like that too! But I can’t say I blame them…they’ve been 2nd fiddle to us well forever! LOL! Always the bridesmaid never the bride! I can’t wait til we start beat’en their ass! It won’t stop them…they’ll cry even more! Cheers man! Go Oil!!

  • singlemalt

    The GW walter white wrote “Will Gazdic be wearing his full face shield again this year?

    LOL!!Can someone please send walter a copy of the current NHL / Players Association Agreement?? Perhaps he might figure it out all by his litthle thelf!

  • Meh,
    Part of me think yes, but if the officials do their job and call penalties like they should then putting the Oilers on the PP just to take a run at one of the players is going to prove to be the dumbest thing to do.

    My guess is coaches are going to lose their sh** if a player on his team takes needless penalty and puts this team on the PP.

  • petrklimashelmet

    Don’t be too hard on poor old Walter. His brain is fried from all that cooking….clearly he is not smart enough to wear a mask himself.
    Team toughness will be a big problem on the Oil but I bet in the next season or two Chia will be addressing that. I’m with the camp who feel the PP will be the ultimate deterrent once it takes hold. How long before coaches start reigning in thier “tough guys” when the Oilers are putting up two or three pp goals a night?

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Hendricks – Letestu – Gazdic seems like a pretty good rough and tumble 4th. I’m gonna miss Gordon on that wagon line, one of the most underrated Oilers of all time.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    He’s got one year left at a good number. Since there is now more toughness and nastiness in the West, he is necessary. If his skating improves a bit and he is put in the games where he is needed, I don’t see any downside. He could even ride shotgun on the 1st and 2nd lines occasionally. Send clear message to the other teams. I was at the game where he and Lucic danced. I don’t think Lucic wants to revisit that.