I think the Edmonton Oilers view Jason Strudwick as a “player-coach” for the coming season. I believe there are a number of factors that could end Strudwick’s Oiler career at any time. That said, he clearly has had an impact on the organization since his arrival and I can also see him staying on in a coaching capacity once he retires.
Fitting Strudwick into the top 7D before anyone shoots a puck in anger is one thing; it’ll be another matter when the team has to decide on risking waivers on kids like Peckham or their annual nail-biting about the three goalie situation.
To borrow from the classic movie The Hunt for Red October “this one is going to be close.”
•Boxcars: 72gp, 0-6-6
•Plus Minus: -18
•Corsi (Rel): -16.3 (7th best on D)
•GF/GA ON: 36-54
•5×5/60: 0.36 (4th best on D)
•Quality of Competition: 5th toughest among D’s
•Quality of Teammates: 5th best among D’s
•Cap Hit: $725,000
- What do these numbers tell us? He played above the level of his ability and it cost him. The organization asked too much of him and he gave it his best, but a raw rookie, the sands of time and his own limitations made for some struggles along the way. Don’t get me wrong: Jason Strudwick should apologize to no one. He played the role asked of him and gave it is best. It wasn’t good enough.
- How could these numbers be better? A reduced role, perhaps a veteran alongside. Strudwick is a terrific team player and the Oilers need this type of player to show the Peckham’s and Plante’s just how much personal sacrifice is required to play the position. But he can do that farther down the batting order.
- Anything curious about his season? In mid-February (the info is in this post) Strudwick and Chorney were facing the dregs with solid teammates. After that, the club flushed some veterans and ran Chorney-Strudwick against the tougher competition. By April the wheels had fallen off (April: 6gp, 0-0-0 -6) but he did have an effective March (15gp, 0-2-2 +3). It seems like his plus minus number for March flies in the face of the things we saw during that month.
- Why did they re-sign him? I think Renney probably wanted him back as a mentor to the kids and a safety valve for the struggles of youth. Renney had him in New York and no doubt has a comfort level with this player (which also leads me to believe he’ll coach here one day).
- Aren’t there more than 7 defensemen ahead of him? Well, yes. Gilbert, Whitney, Foster, Smid and Vandermeer would appear to be locks for this year’s blue and that is 5. Souray would make 6 and then we have the kids (Peckham, Chorney) and the waiver concerns. So if the organization sends out Chorney (certainly possible) and sends Souray home (or trades him) then Vandermeer would have Peckham and Strudwick as his partner. Injuries also factor in and Strudwick is certainly used to the pressbox, but some things are going to have to break right for him to stay.
- What if (say) Belle has an impressive camp? The Oilers could risk waivers on Peckham, or they could retire Strudwick or send him down to Okla City with the understanding that he’ll coach next season.
- What if the go with 8 defensemen? It is a long shot, as the team already has a guy like MacIntyre among the 14F’s that will likely make the roster. Believe me, I’ve looked at it. Strudwick is going to have a hard time making it through the season on this roster just from a numbers point of view.
- How important is Strudwick to the organization? He could be very important. There’s a chance he’ll serve as mentor or Peckham, Chorney, Plante, Petry, Motin and others this season and might be coaching them for years to come.
His 14th NHL season likely to be the last one