Long time readers of this blog will know that enforcers don’t rate well on the top 20—there wasn’t a great deal of love for Cameron Abney, as an example—but Luke Gazdic is a valuable prospect for two reasons (which we’ll discuss below).
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER EIGHTEEN OVERALL
- December 2004: L Jani Rita
- December 2005: G Jeff Deslauriers
- December 2006: D Mathieu Roy
- December 2007: C Chris VandeVelde
- December 2008: L Teemu Hartikainen
- December 2009: R Colin McDonald
- December 2010: D Brandon Davidson
- December 2011: L Phil Cornet
- December 2012: D Taylor Fedun
By December 2004 Jani Rita was just about where Teemu Hartikainen is today—the Oilers had brought him over to have a look and MacTavish wasn’t impressed—and in the case of Rita a full NHL season was less than one year away (with Edmonton and Pittsburgh). Deslauriers is on every list twice, he was a prospect for 27 seasons, and the GP leader on this list today (believe it or else) is none other than Colin McDonald. He played pro hockey with the Oilers for 4 seasons, they should have signed him to another deal.
WHAT THEY SAID BEFORE EDMONTON
- Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Scouting and Player Development, 2011: “Gaz has really come on since we drafted him. For his role, I think he is one of the most improved players we’ve had. For playing down the lineup, he really knows his role. He’s a real good team player and he’s a real smart guy. I think Gaz has made some good steps ahead.”
LUKE GAZDIC, BY SEASON
|PLAYER||TOTAL||NHL E (.45)|
|GAZDIC 2010-11 AHL||72, 9-8-17||82, 5-4-9|
|GAZDIC 2011-12 AHL||76, 11-12-23||82, 5-6-11|
|GAZDIC 2012-13 AHL||59, 4-7-11||82, 3-4-7|
These are Zack Stortini seasons, and I think that’s where the Oilers are hoping he’s headed as a player. Stortini had value (seriously, he did) as a physical 4line RW who could play a physical game and deliver less-than-ghastly Corsi numbers for this player type. Gazdic has good speed and is a better fighter, but I think that’s the role they see him filling on the team.
The other thing that gives him value comes in the form of asset management: if you have Gazdic and he can fill the role, you don’t have to:
- trade picks inside the top 100 overall for Mike Brown
- draft Cameron Abney out of order
I sincerely believe that’s the main value here. Gazdic (and Stortini and Laraque) have very difficult jobs that the organization believes worthy of a roster spot. There’s no math formula I can find to justify this player-type, but the Oilers value him and he’s going to play. The question in regard to Gazdic: how much will he give up? I think Craig MacTavish believes Gazdic is worth the price.
Gazdic is making his stand and stating his case for NHL employment right now. He’s going to play a full season (unless injured) and based on early performance I can’t imagine a scenario where he is outside the NHL in 2014-15. Gazdic is one of three players on this year’s list guaranteed to graduate from it by summer:
- #7 Anton Belov
- #12 Mark Arcobello
- #18 Luke Gazdic
with Taylor Fedun and Tyler Pitlick also among the possibles. I think there’s a very good chance Luke Gazdic is here for the long haul as an Edmonton Oiler. He fits right in, and when he’s involved in the offense (as he was the other night) the reaction from the team tells you everything you need to know: he’s one of them.