The Edmonton Oilers have always thought highly of Zack Stortini. It was obvious in their words and deeds from the start.
About a year after he was drafted, Oilers scout Chris McCarthy said: “Zack Stortini does not skate like an Oiler but he brought other things to the table that made us say ‘alright, look what else he’s got’. He’s tough, he’s a leader and was captain of his team at 17 years old, he can put the puck into the net every once in a while, he’ll fight anybody, and he works hard and he’s willing to improve his skating.”
He said and did all the right things, from the power skating in Regina with Leanne Davis to going out every night in the NHL and playing the role asked of him. He grabbed an NHL job ahead of the Oiler selections taken before him from the 2003 draft and along with Kyle Brodziak (who is 14 months older) appears to be on his way to making the scouting staff look pretty smart for their depth selections that summer.
Stortini’s role on the club is as the agitator, the physical presence on the 4/energy line. In 2007-08 he was so effective in the role many of us doubt it it can be repeated. Desjardins says he played subpar opponents with the dregs and came out smelling like a rose consdering his age and talent. Zack Stortini had a fine season in a defined role and most certainly deserves another 500 at-bats. Can he do it again?