I hate like hell writing about Zack Stortini. Why? Everyone thinks I don’t like the guy and that just isn’t true. Stortini has exceeded expectations beyond a shadow of a doubt and represents a rip double to the wall for the scouting department as they delivered a solid pick 94th overall in 2003.
I think a good comp for Stortini is the fellow in the photo, Casey Candaele. A hard worker, someone who made mince-meat out of the scouting reports and a person who had a positive impact in a well-defined role.
Among the people in the Oilers organization I’d like to buy lunch for is Chris McCarthy. Over a steak and beer the questions would be non-stop and he’d have to answer all honestly (“did you want to stick a knife in Fraser when he passed on Kaberle?”) but I’d gladly pay the tab and hope to one day.
McCarthy told us years ago about Stortini: “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.”
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Reading those words, how would we compare Rob Schremp’s mark in some of these categories? Colin McDonald? Marc Pouliot? Zack Stortini was willing to do whatever it took in order to get to the show. If Craig MacTavish had said “you know Zack, I see some Guy Carbonneau in you” Stortini would have responded in an entirely different way than Jean-Claude Van Pouliot.
In the words of the great hockey coach Clint Eastwood a man has to know his limitations. Zack Stortini shows us what happens when a man concentrates only on the things he can control and working hard and never giving up. Inspiring.
- Boxcars: 52gp, 6-5-11, 181pims
- Shots: 23
- Plus Minus: -3
- Corsi: -19.2
- GF/GA ON: 17-21
- 5×5/60: 1.76
- 5×4/60: 0.00
- Quality of Competition: dregs
- Quality of Teammates: dregs
- FO %: 63.6% on 11 sorties
- 09-10 Cap Hit: $.700k (capgeek)
- What do these numbers tell us? Stortini has some nice things. His 5×5/60 is third among Oiler regulars. You can say “well that’s a reflection of just how bad that team was” but bottom line is the guy delivered some offense while he was on the ice. It represents a nice improvement over last season (1.24) and is exceptional considering he doesn’t shoot much. On the other hand that’s a poor Corsi and unlike Pisani Zack’s playing in the shallow end of the pool so moving up the depth chart at RW is unlikely.
- How Could these numbers be better? I think the Oilers are getting the maximum from him right now.
- What about Reddox? Stortini played in 52 games a year ago and at least a half-dozen of those came from injury (strained left knee, awful). I think we should expect him to play north of 65 games this season and Reddox (among others) will need to play a very physical style if they plan to move Stortini to the pressbox.
- What about a 4th “energy line”? One area our guy might be a little vulnerable is a “Falcon line” biting him (and others–Pouliot, etc) in the ass with a strong training camp. The last time the Oilers had a new coach (MacT) he raved about the chemistry on that Bulldog line and hired the bunch of them.
- Will Quinn play him? Quinn has no choice but to play him in the Minnesota, Calgary and Anaheim games plus a bunch more too. Stortini is no longer a hug and dance fighter, he’s hung in there when overmatched and he’s won some too. Hey, we joke about this and I’m as guilty as the next guy in doing it, but a lot of what Zack Stortini does requires overcoming basic fear and using your head during a time when it’s easy to lose it. Credit where due, he’s grown into this role and is a smart, smart hockey player.
- What Else? He replaced a legend (BG) and this past season I started to see him becoming one all on his own. We need to acknowledge that, along with a hat tip to Craig MacTavish for patience and the organization for seeing him good.
- How Important is Stortini to this team? Very. MacIntyre isn’t close to an NHL player, the numbers are atrocious and just to the naked eye it’s clear the big man can’t dance. So Stortini is it unless Tambellini plans to bring in Abney right away (joking here).
Predictions Past 2008-09
- Predicted: 75gp, 5-8-13 (.173 per game)
- Actual: 52gp, 6-5-11 (.212 per game)
Prediction for 2009-10: 70gp, 6-10-16 (.229 per game)