Oilers Sign Strudwick

I wonder if Jason Strudwick knows exactly how lucky he is today. The Edmonton Oilers have settled on him as their niche roster player who will be asked to stick up for the skill kids, make the simple play and maybe get in a fight or two along the way.

Since Kevin Lowe took over, the Edmonton Oilers have proven very capable of finding solid role playing defensemen. They could find them at midnight in a snowstorm and have proven it over the years with names like Scott Ferguson, Igor Ulanov, Cory Cross, Steve Staios, Jan Hejda and others.

These are players that are usually readily available because they often find themselves on teams where their abilities don’t mesh with the job required or they are asked to do too much by the coaching staff. Just because Strudwick is playing well in December doesn’t mean he’s going to be able to take on huge minutes against the Iginla line with Ladislav Smid as his partner.

These defensemen seem interchangeable and sometimes they appear to take great leaps forward, sign big free agent contracts, and fall flat on their faces when their roles increase. Igor Ulanov is an example of that scenario playing out.

I think the key for the Oilers is that the entire management staff were role players and they know how to handle a Jason Strudwick. He’ll be told to keep it simple, rim it around the boards when in doubt, play tough and make the safe play. And when he takes a dumb penalty they won’t bench the guy, and when he gets in a fight in which he takes the extra minor it won’t be World War Three.

The Oilers do really well with these kinds of signings. Strudwick is coming in as a depth defender, but I have little doubt there will be games this season when his TOI is in the top 4 and he’ll be asked to do things not thought possible by fans of his last team. And he’ll do them well, and by this time next season people will be talking about Jason Strudwick in a much kinder fashion than they are today.

It’s the damndest thing I’ve ever seen, and the only comparable I can think of is the Whitey Herzog era where marginal hitters like Vince Coleman becamse superstars because Herzog asked them to do only a few things (get on base, steal second) and those happened to be the things they were good at all of the time.

As for what it means for the Oilers roster, there are several possibilities. I think the Oilers might go with 13 forwards and 8 defenders to start the season if they’re not sure about how the blueline will shake out. You don’t want to lose Mathieu Roy for nothing. Speaking of Roy, this signing may indicate his career is in jeopardy, maybe those concussions have him in some trouble.

This signing could impact a player like Zack Stortini. Word is that Stortini’s agent is asking for the sun, moon and stars. It is my opinion that this organization is completely capable of using Stortini as an example to their other young kids. Strudwick is also very nice insurance against an Ethan Moreau injury, as he can also play forward and he might be able to help a young, struggling player like JF Jacques find his way.

A very nice signing by the Oilers, and an extremely good day for Jason Strudwick. He landed in the best possible spot for his ability and on a team with a tremendous record of success in this area.

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30 Responses to "Oilers Sign Strudwick"

  1. Jonathan says:

    The Oilers do really well with these kinds of signings. Strudwick is coming in as a depth defender, but I have little doubt there will be games this season when his TOI is in the top 4 and he’ll be asked to do things not thought possible by fans of his last team. And he’ll do them well, and by this time next season people will be talking about Jason Strudwick in a much kinder fashion than they are today.

    Pefect paragraph. This is exactly the kind of player who excels under the MacTavish coaching staff.

    We’ve been talking about how Visnovsky is an upgrade on Pitkanen, and Cole a big upgrade on Torres, but I’d wager right now that Strudwick is more effective this season than Matt Greene.

  2. namflashback says:

    Plus, indications are that he is a funny guy with his teammates, and has a porn stache to boot.

    Todd Harvey v2.

    Nothing less than the SCF now!

  3. dstaples says:

    Yes, well said Lowetide.

    Of course, as the president and only member of the “‘Mean’ Matt Greene is the Future Jason Smith Faction,” I’d have to say Greene really is cut out for bigger things than others are predicting, and he will show that in Los Angeles as things progress. But I certainly had a moment of recognition reading your thoughts on MacT’s handling of such defenders as Greene, Ulanov.

    You nailed it. (But now that I think of it, Hejda has proved that such a player can step up into a bigger role with another team and still do fine).

    As for Strudwick, the Oil both needed some insurance on the blueline and some hitting/fighting power and got a bit of both in Strudwick.

    Finally Matheiu Roy. I’ve never seen any indication at all from his play here that he belongs in the NHL.

    This Oil team is a lot less uneven than other recent editions of the team.

  4. ClaytonMagnet says:

    …and another hometown boy on the roster, something Lowe seems to like.

    I wouldn’t care if Roy left for no return. He is more of a one-way contract road block for guys like Peckham and Chorney than anything. Didn’t he pass through waivers untouched once already? My guess is not many GMs need an unestablished Dman with a glass jaw.

  5. CrazyCoach says:

    LT,

    I remember having a chat with Mike Johnston, current assistant coach with the kings and Marc Crawford’s assistant in Vancouver.

    His impression of Strudwick is about the same as yours in regards to the Oil. Great team guy, willing to fit in any role you put him in, including the 3rd pass option going up the ice.

    He will fit in fine and make people quickly forget about Matt Greene. Matt Greene’s only hope is that Johnston stays in LA.

  6. William says:

    You’re a great story-teller LT. Not only did you manage to turn a quiet Oilers signing of a 4th line low-event role player into an enjoyable read, but also now have me looking forward to seeing some guy who, if I had been asked about 30 minutes ago, I would’ve said “Jason WHO?”

  7. namflashback says:


    Finally Matheiu Roy. I’ve never seen any indication at all from his play here that he belongs in the NHL.

    Granted, every time he got in a game some guy named Rypien or Tootoo pasted him.

  8. Quain says:

    Well, in the thirteen games he played last season, in between concussions, Roy keep his head even with the water. Sure, it was against the soft parade’s weak sisters, but even is even for a seventh defenseman.

  9. Art Vandelay says:

    Not sure what Oilers fans will be saying at the end of the year, but I can predict what they’ll be saying halfway through the pre-season: “Strudwick can’t even skate backwards!”

    /Hockey Kresgin

  10. David says:

    It’s a nice depth signing, but it makes me a little nervous about how many spots this leaves for the kids. Will this force Smid out of the top six? Will his ability to play forward keep Pouliot or Schremp out of the top twelve?

    I think he’s the right player to sign for this team, but this is a young team, and leaving openings for a second wave of young players to join the Nilssons and Gilberts of the world as the youth core is still important, IMO.

    If they weren’t so short on veterans in the top six, I would recommend trading Pisani or Moreau. As it stands, it may take yet more injuries to sort out this line-up a bit.

  11. Scarlett says:

    You think they’re going to dress 7 d-men a night? Or does someone sit out? I’m curious to see how this works out. But you’re right, the Oil have no trouble finding capable defensemen.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Scarlett: I think they might dress 7 defensemen some games, with Strudwick the guy who plays F if everyone is playing well. It just makes sense in games against Calgary or Minnesota imo.

  13. Oilman says:

    LT – I love how you keep bringing up ex Mets in your blogs – good stuff;o)

  14. Bruce says:

    “Strudwick played 52 games with the New York Rangers in 2007-08. Averaging 12:56 minutes of ice time per game, he scored 1-1-2 with 40 penalty minutes and was even in the plus/minus rankings.”

    This is exactly what you want in a seventh defenceman, a guy who’s been through the wars (488 GP spread over 12 seasons) and who “understands his role”, even when it’s the pressbox. In Strudwick’s case that role can be expanded a little, as he has played a fair bit of LW in his career, and knows the position well enough to be an emergency forward who can also suit up for the odd Ducks game. So 7th defenceman, 14th forward.

    Which, to borrow from LT’s always-outstanding baseball references, makes him J.C. Martin*. Bench strength.

    (* who Oilman will know hit .500 for the Mets in the ’69 Series)

    Any word on terms? One year at ??? $600 K?

  15. Oilman says:

    He was way before my time Bruce – but I appreciate it non the less:o)

  16. Bruce says:

    Mmmmm … the Miracle Mets … you didn’t have to be a Mets fan before or since to fall in love with that crew.

  17. Oilman says:

    hmmm….JC Martin is responsible for the running lane in baseball….learn something new every day!

  18. Oilman says:

    I see Burke is at it again…tampering charges against the Oilers? What an idiot. Effin Lawyers.

  19. Lowetide says:

    That’s a non-starter. I heard the quote re: Perry and it was so minor it is to laugh. Burke being Burke like Manny being Manny.

  20. Dennis says:

    Strudwick was 15/17 last year playing in the bottom pairing for the Rags; very low event and posted a good GAON/60.

    He’s a good piece of insurance for a D that features three vets — one of whom is injury prone — and three kids, one of whom might need a seat in the pressbox every now and then.

    A good 7th D; he also spells the end of Roy’s career as an Oiler. Mathieu will be put on waivers at the end of camp — if he’s not already dealt — and he might even be bought out if the Oilers really want to feed the SF time to kids like Peckam-Chorney-Wild-Bisallion. Then again, maybe Roy would be a good vet to bring them along.

    In any case, he’s done as an Oiler and good signing by Lowe.

    In other news, I heard Vince Coleman once sprayed bleach at a guy because that fellow was trying to tell him what to post on the internet:)

  21. Lowetide says:

    If you want the best Vince Coleman story, google “Vince Coleman tarp”

  22. Oilman says:

    Yeah – Vince Coleman was a pretty decent ballplayer and could run like the wind…but that never stopped him from being a jerk on the internet.

    disclaimer: In case Brian Burke is reading, the proceeding comment was a joke – Vince Coleman is a very nice man and one hell of a golfer;o)

  23. Stuart van says:

    I don’t think this spells the end of Roy necessarily.

    Didn’t Lowe start with 9 NHL capable defensemen last year? Weren’t they down to 7 in short order? I think Roy is still seen as providing insurance for the team, but if Roy went down, they’d be calling up Young, so bringing in a guy like Strudwick was key to getting more defensemen depth.

  24. Backhand says:

    //Any word on terms? One year at ??? $600 K?//

    1 year 650 k as per TSN

  25. Oilman says:

    1 year 650 k as per TSN

    Your move Stortini

  26. Ribs says:

    Hey, it’s a punching bag!

    I can’t honestly say I’ve seen enough of this guy to get a true read on him but from what I remember he likes to pick on the little guys. Not my favourite kind of player but a necessary evil I suppose.

    Now, can he skate? He’s gotta be able to make it to the fight before Souray jumps in and wrecks his shoulder again.

  27. rickibear says:

    Ribs: If you have been in the league for 12 Yrs and you are 6’4″ just about everybody is a little guy.

  28. Dennis says:

    Gallagher had more material and he was definetly funnier;)

  29. Oilman says:

    Yeah – but his comedy does not translate to blogging…tough to write about smashing a watermelon and make it funny…also, tough to reference an obscure comedian on one blog and have it make sense to anyone reading comments on another blog (I had no idea the Gallagher reference was toward me before I read jonathon’s blog this morning)

  30. Stan the Caddy says:

    Great take on a depth signing, LT. You hit the nail on the head.

    The Oil can’t go wrong with this signing. I’ve followed his entire career and he’s developed himself into a good steady defenceman. He always makes the simple play and usually doesn’t get himself in a lot of trouble. He’ll always stick up for his teammates, is great in the room, great with the young guys and is 100% a class act.

    Not to mention his wife actually wants him to play in Edmonton! I’m looking forward to seeing him in the copper and blue. I know he’s very excited.

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