The signing of Chris Vande Velde (expected later today) will give the Oilers a rare item: a big forward with size and grit. He’s a center and can win faceoffs (his winning percentage in college was just below Toews-range for much of his college career, including 54.1% in 861 FO’s this past season).
Vande Velde is also unique in terms of size. The Oilers are undersized at both the big league and AHL level at the position:
- Shawn Horcoff 6.01, 208 1251 faceoffs (46.7%)
- Ryan Potulny 6.00, 190 781 faceoffs (47.1%)
- Sam Gagner 5,11, 190 709 faceoffs (47.4%)
- Andrew Cogliano 5.10, 184 377 faceoffs (43.2%)
- Geoff Paukovich 6.04, 215 (AHL)
- Ryan O’Marra 6.01, 193 (AHL)
- Rob Hisey 5.08, 170 (AHL)
Vande Velde checks in at 6.02, 207 which would put him near the top of the list. Plus he has enough offensive skill that we can assume he’ll actually deliver some results in pro hockey. I’m very happy with this signing; Vande Velde was ranked #4 on my prospect list in December because of a wide-range of skills. Rugged, center, size, good on faceoffs. There’s a lot to like.
Vande Velde is ranked #19 by Copper and Blue (their top 25 is for all players under 25) and HF has him ranked 14th on their newly released Top 20. I think this is exactly what the club needed, and will be a more important signing than Omark and Petry this summer. Forwards with size and skill are a rare item for this hockey club, and if he can learn to play the game at the AHL/NHL level this guy is going to help win hockey games.