RE 09-10: Zack Stortini

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)
  1. 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.
  2. How Could these numbers be better? I think the Oilers are getting the maximum from him right now.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)

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20 Responses to "RE 09-10: Zack Stortini"

  1. spOILer says:

    I think Bruce (surely it had to be Bruce, didn't it?) had a post where he highlighted the fact Stortini had zero obstruction penalties last year, had the most majors out of the entire league, yet did not get a single instigator either. …All IIRC.

    As much as I would prefer a little more offensive beauty matched with that ugly mug, and a prettier Corsi surely too, Zorg just does so many of those little things well. Shows what can happen when you are eminently coachable.

    As far as working on skating goes, I'd like to see young Samwise put in a little work off-season in that area too. An extra half-step would do him wonders.

    Oh, and for someone you don't like writing about, that was a lovely incisive RE, LT.

  2. Ribs says:

    Moose not coming to Edmonton….yet

    Link

  3. B.C.B. says:

    spOILer: actually Zorg had two high sticking calls in one game. I think Bruce is referring to the fact that Zorg didn't actually highstick anyone, but he was lifting the opponent's stick in both cases. I remember this because I was cursing the ref for screwing up my penalty project, at the time.

    with the help of coach and Bruce, there is an interesting analysis of Zorg in comparison to other middle-weight fighters (look at the comment for a full comparison) at http://bringingbacktheglory.blogspot.com/2009/05/zorg-bear.html

  4. Peter says:

    Stortini is a great guy, and he actually has decent hands for a 4th liner. However, he isn't much of a fighter. I don't know if it's cuz he just isn't strong enough yet, but his fights end in lose or draw. He usually holds on for dear life against heavyweights, and throws a couple of shots from 6 inches away from the other guy's face. Good for him for throwing himself into the fire, but it isn't much to get excited about.

  5. Jonathan Willis says:

    According to hockeyfights.com, Stortini's W/L/T record in fights this year was 5-10-10.

    Of note: he finished the year 5-2-2 after going 0-8-8.

  6. Black Dog says:

    I am sure Bruce will chime in when he returns from their weekly Sunday brunch. ;)

    It would be awful nice if a lot of the rest of the roster showed the qualities that Stortini has in spades. He has to be given credit – he's made a player out of himself.

  7. spOILer says:

    Not sure if Bruce would consider high-sticking to be obstruction.

    …I wouldn't.

  8. geowal says:

    Unrelated, but Vinny Prospal in New York for 1.1 million.
    Another sign the "veteran market" is dirt dirt cheap.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=287885

  9. Gord says:

    Stortini will be turning 24 just before the season starts – there is still room for improvement. With his attitude & work ethic, he will get better in his defined role.

    Having said that, what you see is what you get – a 4th line team player who should be able to handle himself on the 3rd line when injuries demand he fill in.

    On a side note, MacIntyre would be on my team as the 14th forward. Another player who knows his role & does it well at a decent salary cap hit.

  10. Jfry says:

    geowal, you beat me to it. sather has really changed that team up this summer.

    i think zach is a total beauty and this could be the season we see him and ethan go a round at practice and then maybe it becomes the kid's team, finally? i jest of course. zach will just do what he's told. living in calgary, i take a lot of flack about stortini, but now that he's chuckin' them and huggin less, i'm hoping they'll shut up. apparently, he's really easy to dislike and make fun of when you're not an oilers fan.

    with stortini it's kinda like cheering for the fat guy when he's trying to land some trim that's out of his league — workin' to his strengths, lettin' her do all the talking and just being happy to have some scraps to work with.

  11. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Interesting player. The casual fan would say why is he in the NHL and ____ isn't?

    I'll admit, for the first few games of his career I was actually laughing at how awkward he looked out there. There's also been times where I'm sure his teamates have been a bit embarassed to have him on their team (bearhug antics).

    He does bring some things that help win regular season games (pest, responsible, draws more penalties than he takes, fights almost anybody, goes to the net).

    However, if the Oilers ever make the playoffs again I think he gets pb'd. He just doesn't skate well enough to keep up with a playoff pace.

  12. MikeP says:

    I dunno LT, re MacIntyre, Quinn gave Wade Belak an awful lot of chances to prove his ineptitude in playing hockey with the gloves on. I can see SMac and Stortini changing up as needs dictate.

    That said, Laraque was fairly useless as a young man as well (although he was always a good fighter), but grew into his role. I saw him in AHL games early in his career and I wondered why he was drafted at all. I can see Stortini doing that too.

  13. Jfry says:

    you cannot compare Macintyre to belak or BG. sorry.

  14. Lowetide says:

    I only have one more forward to go and can tell you it isn't Steve MacIntyre. Does anyone think he can play?

  15. mjsh says:

    I think Stortini is actually a hockey player, not a great one, but a real player. I would not be afraid to see him get some third line time.

    Your last guy had two decent games last year with the Oil but then seemed to take it easy in his third. Yes, he has skill, yes, his skating is not great but he could be a player if he got his head on straight.

  16. Racki says:

    Good to see a good right up on Stortini. It's almost ridiculous to admit, but I've been a fan of his for a while now. There was a point though that even I wanted him waived from the team. But then I saw something… MacTavish could motivate him just by benching him 1 or 2 games. If he gets too indifferent out there, all he needs is one or two nights off and he's back to fighting for his job.

    He is the perfect 4th line winger. He's important to the team, as you mentioned. And right now, I'd rather have him than MacIntyre, even though Big Mac is a nuclear weapon. Hopefully it doesn't come down to that though.

    Also that knee injury he suffered was brutal. I thought for sure he was done for the season. Our team has been so bloody brittle the past 3 years that it's refreshing to see a tough SOB like Stortini.

    Major credit for proving to everyone he's a necessity to the team. We've yet to see his leadership skills in play, but that's something to look forward to down the road.

  17. Sean says:

    I called it last year and it didn't happen much but I see Stortini moving up at times during the year. Our 2nd line is going to be super soft to play against and I still think 46 might see the occasional shift with say 12 and 89.

  18. Bruce says:

    Oh, and for someone you don't like writing about, that was a lovely incisive RE, LT.

    spOILer: I'll say. That write-up's as accurate as was Chris McCarthy's scouting report those several years ago.

    Of note: he finished the year 5-2-2 after going 0-8-8.

    JW: Also of note: Two of the "wins" came against George Parros and one against Raitis Ivanans. It's not like Zorg picks his spots. He's taken his lumps and has improved the same way he has improved as a skater: slowly, but surely.

    Stortini will be turning 24 just before the season starts – there is still room for improvement. With his attitude & work ethic, he will get better in his defined role.

    Absolutely, Gord. Zack is a work-in-progress who I expect to continue improving for several more years.

    We've yet to see his leadership skills in play, but that's something to look forward to down the road.

    Given his status as a young player not to mention a 4th liner/borderliner, his most effective type of leadership is of the "by example" type, as per BDHS:

    //It would be awful nice if a lot of the rest of the roster showed the qualities that Stortini has in spades. He has to be given credit – he's made a player out of himself.//

    apparently, he's really easy to dislike and make fun of when you're not an oilers fan.

    Jfry: There are more than few Oiler "fans" who have done the same, despite the fact the kid has done nothing but try his level best to improve himself and be a good teammate and team player from the day he was drafted.

    To me, one of his most endearing characteristics is how much he is hated by Calgary and Vancouver fans in particular. That's proof positive he's effective in his role as an agitator.

    I am sure Bruce will chime in when he returns

    BDHS: Consider it done.:)

  19. Racki says:

    Bruce Said: "Given his status as a young player not to mention a 4th liner/borderliner, his most effective type of leadership is of the "by example" type, as per BDHS.."

    Oh I agree Bruce. I think he leads by example better than Moreau has this past season or two (and this was Moreau's biggest asset up until maybe recently.. but I don't mean that as a backhanded compliment). But I also think one day he could be a locker room presence (if he isn't already.. how would I know), and maybe even (dare I say it) captain material. While we obviously can't expect him to be a 20 goal scorer, the sky seems to be the limit in other ways due to his big desire to compete, great attitude and teachability.

    I sound like the guy's mom the way I'm feeding him compliments, but I think what he brings to this team is pretty underrated. But fans do notice it now.

  20. MikeP says:

    Jfry, I can and did.

    I saw BG play in the AHL, and he barely belonged. Dennis Bonvie was a better player than he was, and just as good a fighter at that level. All he had going for him was size and willingness to do what he needed. He could barely skate from one end of the rink to the other (I was told he was asthmatic), couldn't take or make a pass, and so on.

    I'm not saying I think MacIntyre's a better player than Zorg – far from it – but Quinn's shown a willingness to let players who don't care which end of the stick they're holding to stick around on a roster, and that affects Stortini. Maybe Quinn's changed, I don't know. We'll see in a few months.

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