RE 14-15 LUKE GAZDIC: LESSON IN SURVIVAL

The Edmonton Oilers acquired Luke Gazdic for nothing. Placed on waivers because they had so many young wingers perform well in Dallas, the Stars lost a terrific young enforcer at the very beginning of his career. In this were 1984, articles would appear in local papers and magazines and the Hockey News would have written three features by now. Alas, it is 2014, and Luke Gazdic’s presence on the team brings a decidedly mixed reaction.

LUKE GAZDIC 13-14

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.62 (13th among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: nil
  • Qual Comp: 15th toughest faced among regular forwards (fourth line)
  • Qual Team: 12th best available teammates among regular forwards (fourth line)
  • Corsi Rel: -16.5 (worst among regular forwards)
  • Corsi for 5×5 %: 36.8
  • Corsi for 5×5 % REL: -8.3
  • Zone Start: 52.5% (6th easiest among regular forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 43.8% (11th best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 30/6.7% (11th among F’s >30 or more shots)
  • Boxcars: 67, 2-2-4

RE 14-15 PREVIEW

PPG NAME GP G A PTS
.083 LUKE GAZDIC RE 14-15 48 1 3 4
 

 VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMERhall sledge corsi rel

  1. What was the scouting report on Gazdic before Edmonton picked him up? 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.”
  2. What did you say about the move when Gazdic was hired? The day after his acquisition: “I don’t think there’s any other way to frame this: the Edmonton Oilers are going to be a very physical team and the possession talk of summer has given way to something else this fall. The Sam Gagner injury may have long reaching impact on the Edmonton Oilers beyond the injury itself.”
  3. You sure were wrong on that one. Heh.
  4. Can he be more than an enforcer? Can he play on a legit shutdown line? His resume suggests that Gazdic is not an ideal candidate.
  5. How is his offense? We’re looking at Zack Stortini.
  6. What do the Corgi’s tell us? His WOWY Corsi for 5×5% is 37.2 and that’s beyond terrible. Even more damning, his teammates are better off without him in a big way.
  7. Like who? His most common linemate was poor old Ryan Jones. In their time together, the Corsi for 5×5 % was 38.8. Jones without: 44.1; Gazdic without 36.2.
  8. That’s just one guy, though. Let’s take Martin Marincin, another rookie like Gazdic. The pair spent just over an hour on the ice together, posting a 41.7 Corsi for 5×5 %. That’s terrible. You wouldn’t re-hire that in a productive company. In 317 minutes without Marincin, Gazdic’s Corsi for 5×5 % was 36.3, that’s basically dereliction of duty. Marincin without Gazdic? In 621 minutes, 48.2%—on this team that’s a Calder nomination and a seat on next year’s Titanic.
  9. Gazdic was a rookie, he’ll get better. I’m not going to argue that, the concern is Edmonton’s stated priority of running a 4line that takes own-zone draws while also housing Gazdic.
  10. Has anyone actually said Gazdic will be on that 4line? Yes. A two-year deal is strong confirmation.
  11. Well, they’ll have him as the enforcer and then double shift someone for the own-zone starts. Maybe have a third defenseman out there. So let me get this straight: you’re dressing an enforcer who will be used exclusively in those rare times when Gordon gets a neutral or offensive zone start?
  12. He could play on other lines, too. NO. HE. CAN’T. Gazdic isn’t good at passing and making a pass, getting the puck out under control, beating another man while stickhandling, reading the play, making a clever pass to open ice, those hockey kinds of things.
  13. So he’s got a little work to do. (Blinks).
  14. I thought you liked him! You had him as a top 10 prospect in December! No, I listed him as the #18 prospect in the system for the winter edition. He would be in that range currently, although he’s no longer eligible (having played 50 NHL games).
  15. Why did you rank him that high? Two reasons. Having Luke Gazdic means the Oilers are less likely to spend a third round pick on Cameron Abney. Second, if the organization is committed to having a fighter they might as well have a good one.
  16. Is there a disconnect here in the Oilers offices? Yes, I think so.
  17. What is it? The Edmonton Oilers—including Craig MacTavish and Dallas Eakins—are grappling with the idea of an enforcer, a one dimensional tough guy. The Kassian thuggery injured Sam Gagner, and ensured the team would play with a fourth line that looked a certain way. It was a very effective assault.
  18. Are MacT and Eakins wrong? They certainly are based on the ineffectiveness of the fourth line. And now they want that line to play even more of a feature role. Gazdic is not a strong candidate for that role, in my opinion.
  19. Then, what’s the trick? I’ve long felt (and said, there’s no issue from my end) Edmonton has completely missed the boat on all this physicality jazz. The key isn’t to have a fourth line guy who can come out after the carnage and blow his horn, the key is to have actual NHL players who can also impact the game physically. We watched Hemsky get murdered by Regehr for a decade, but the Oilers are (apparently) incapable of icing actual NHL players who can wreck Boring Monahan on one of his sorties.
  20. So Benoit Pouliot is the enforcer? He’s a bigger man who can win battles. You have to acquire skilled men who also have physical size as part of their game. You have to stop equating toughness and intelligent play with fighting and intimidation. Hell, Mark Arcobello was exceptional in checking last year, good position, retrieved pucks, the whole deal. “Things accomplished after the whistle” do. not. matter.
  21. What’s the solution? Finding physical players, actually not even that, finding men with size and skill to pepper into the current lineup. More Benoit Pouliot’s, fewer Ryan Jones.
  22. And no Luke Gazdic? Only if he can help in a specific hockey role.
  23. Are the Oilers making progress with this philosophical problem? Yes. Dallas Eakins discussing Mark Fraser: “I can easily stand here and argue “Yes, we need that.” We’ve got a guy back there that’s more than willing to fill the role  with Mark Fraser and, uh, one side of me says “absolutely, we need the toughness up front, we need it on our back end. But, Mark [Spector], I… and that’s the honest to God’s truth, there’s one side of me that says: “Yes, we need to old school it and we’ve got to have those guys.” And, then there’s another side of me looking at how teams are, some other teams are building and… I’m not sure.”
  24. Why this song? It’s about searching for answers, and NOT following the crowd to get them. Find your own solution, don’t say ‘well, everyone’s doing it’ or ‘well, we’ve always done it this way’ when you know one is not true and the other doesn’t work. Find the future in your past, not the Dave Semenko past, but the Messier, Tikkanen, Krushelnyski past.
  25. Not easy to get those players. Oilers have some on the way, and I really like the addition of Benoit Pouliot. Maybe Tyler Pitlick can help. The Oilers do need men who can win battles and check, but that’s an entirely different job description than the one filled by Luke Gazdic.
  26. When do we have our answer? We got it. The two-year deal. There’s no mystery here. The Oilers enter the season shorthanded because they are too attached to the past to see the future. The 4line will go out for an own-zone start and the results will be poor. There’s no mystery to this. None.
  27. Brian Bollig was successful in Chicago. Yes he was, but that Kruger fellow seems to have major impact in that role no matter who they throw over the boards. One suspects it’s a matter of who’s zooming who,  we’ll find out this coming season as Bollig is in a new town.
  28. Were you surprised by that trade? Mostly the return. A third-round pick. Sam Pollock used to do that, play a guy on a great line for a year and then trade him away for high value.
  29. Do you like Gazdic? Oh yeah, he seems like a nice fellow and he’s popular with the team.
  30. Eberle says he’s a big part of the team. Eberle would enjoy winning hockey games, too. Oilers have to figure this out.

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37 Responses to "RE 14-15 LUKE GAZDIC: LESSON IN SURVIVAL"

  1. jake70 says:

    Book it – Gazdic channels McLelland and scores the only goal in a 1-0 victory in a future pivotal playoff game. (yes that would mean the Oilers will be in the playoffs in the future …;) )

  2. wordbird says:

    Will there be enough useful talent at training camp to ensure Gazdik doesn’t have a spot in the lineup? Hopefully someone pulls a Brodziak and forces #20 into the pressbox. Positive results with a non-Gadzik lineup would help.

  3. 106 and 106 says:

    So why is the RE only 48 games?

    He will miss the first part of the season with injury, and maybe that’s the ticket – to have Arco or Lander or Pitlick help the fourth line out of zone start misery, and when he gets back, maybe Eakins and Mac-T look long and hard at the number and say that they will play Gazdic when teams not named Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Chicago come round.

    All speculative, but two years isn’t 8.

    And Sam’s gone, so there’s that too.

  4. Lowetide says:

    The RE’s on all the guys after Gordon (Hall-Nuge-Eberle-Perron-Leon-Arco-Purcell-Yak-Gordon) are hedging bets. I’m not sure Hendricks lasts the whole year—he could be dealt at the deadline—and I’m absolutely not sure of Lander, Pitlick and untold others.

  5. jp says:

    I think Gazdic gets squeezed more and more as Eakins continues to reflect on his “old school” comments. He and MacT are clearly aware of both sides of the debate, they just haven’t completely made up their minds yet.

    I really don’t see Gazdic’s presence on the roster or the 2 year deal as huge issues. He’s getting paid (relative) peanuts, and by all accounts is a great team guy who is well respected. I’m fine with having him as the 14th forward who gets inserted into the lineup for occasional specific matchups. I think Eakins and the players all feel better with Gazdic around as an option, even if he doesn’t play much.

    I completely agree that Gazdic is incompatible with a D-zone, shut down 4th line. And that definitely is a major issue if he plays 50 games. I’m just optimistic that the “hockey” side wins out in the argument in Eakins head.

  6. GATO BANDIDO says:

    He’s a better skater than Steve MacIntyre and a better fighter than Eager or Brown, but that’s about it. Where is Georges Laraque these days?

  7. soup says:

    Wonder if Eberle loves him because he is less likely to get Gagner’ed than he was before Luke arrived? You can have this dream of four skill lines, but this is still a physical game. With this team running the both soft and ineffective d-corp last year, there had to be some beef somewhere. You can’t just ignore the bruising these fine young forwards have taken over their first few years and say that everyone else is wrong for playing that way.

    Maybe teams like Chicago didn’t have to do it. Bickel and others would argue. However, the Oil are no where close to that complete team yet so Luke or someone else like him will be needed.

    Two hopes for next year. First, Luke learns the game. I’d love to see him become the next iteration of a Big Georges. Second, with now what looks like a more complete defense, other teams will be more concerned about getting the puck to our net and less inclined to head hunt the young stars after being gifted a couple of soft goals. In the meantime, I will forgive Dallas and Craig dragging their knuckles just a bit.

  8. supernova says:

    Why did you rank him that high? Two reasons. Having Luke Gazdic means the Oilers are less likely to spend a third round pick on Cameron Abney. Second, if the organization is committed to having a fighter they might as well have a good one.

    ——————————————————-

    For this reason alone I like the pick-up.

    He has points in his game that show he can improve, although it could be a long road.

    My fear is the Oil keep spending assets for years down the road if the dont have Gazdic on contract.

  9. Bar_Qu says:

    soup,

    Eberle loves him because he’s a good guy and we all want good guys on our team. It is not the job of the GM and the coach to put together the best team of “good guys” they can, but the best hockey team they can get. Likely Chris Pronger was an absolute nightmare in the room, but the team won with him in the line-up, regardless of whether guys liked him.

    Also, good teams lose good players with tough guys on the ice. It makes no deterrent difference at all. Marc Savard’s career was ended by a dirty hit while Lucic was on the ice “protecting” him (credit WG for that piece of info). These guys don’t work.

    Having said that, ride that horse while you can, young Gazdic. Become popular in the community, build relationships and save the money this team will throw at you, because you are in the show. Congratulations and I wish you all the best.

  10. Bruce McCurdy says:

    How is his offense? We’re looking at Zack Stortini.

    No, actually, we’re not.

    Zack Stortini: 257 GP, 41 points, 13 P/82
    Luke Gazdic: 67 GP, 4 points, 5 P/82

  11. Hammers says:

    LT if the oilers waive Gazdic with his 2 year deal does he get picked up ?? I think he would and my guess is your giving him a bit over half a season so he can play against the Flames , Canucks and a few other teams . Putting a “team” together isn’t just the perfect player in the exact right spot .McT & Eakins need this type of player for certain games just like they need a Yak for those free flowing games . For me the important thing is he only gets half a season and then I agree with Ebs ; this is a player type we need .

  12. Ducey says:

    Not sure why there is any concern about a 2 yr deal. He can be waived and buried if necessary with no cap implications.

    Given that Brown was traded for a 4th, Gazdic would likely bring back something similar.

    “Things accomplished after the whistle” do. not. matter.

    You cannot Measure things that happen after the whistle.

    Are morale, effort, confidence, happiness, anger, etc things that impact on the playing of a hockey game? You can bet your pointy ears they do. If Eberle plays a little better because Gazdic is in the lineup, then there is an impact.

    Perhaps Gazdic’s deficiencies outweigh any positive impact he has. But is reality he is playing 5 minutes a night. He was -8. So he was on for 8 goals against net. Perhaps the 4th line would have been +10 without him, but someone how I doubt it.

    I do share the concern about how he will fit into a revamped 4th line. I expect that he will start the season on the injury list, so it would not be a problem initially.

  13. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “Brian Bollig was successful in Chicago. Yes he was, but that Kruger fellow seems to have major impact in that role no matter who they throw over the boards. One suspects it’s a matter of who’s zooming who, we’ll find out this coming season as Bollig is in a new town.”

    If I can re-pimp a recent piece on the matter:

    http://www.theoilersrig.com/2014/07/the-chicago-model/

    And, Willis did an excellent piece dissecting what Q had Bollig actually do after faceoff situations. It’s very good. And shows that Q gave Bollig extremely limited and rigid duties for each situation (loss, right side; win right side; etc)

    http://oilersnation.com/2014/7/29/where-does-luke-gazdic-fit-in

    The fact they dumped Bollig is a sign that even in this limited role they saw the opportunity to upgrade the roster without him. That’s a tell right there.

  14. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “The Sam Gagner injury may have long reaching impact on the Edmonton Oilers beyond the injury itself.”

    Indeed. Gagner is gone. Gazdic remains.

  15. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    One reminder. SJS signed Brown to two years and signed J. Scott.

    That team went insane after getting knocked out from up 3-0.

    That’s what having a Gazdic is. A signal you are a terrible team. Or, a great team in the midst of fever dream.

  16. Hammers says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: One reminder. SJS signed Brown to two years and signed J. Scott.That team went insane after getting knocked out from up 3-0. That’s what having a Gazdic is. A signal you are a terrible team. Or, a great team in the midst of fever dream.

    Or a team that needs a little bit of everything just in case !

  17. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Hammers: Or a team that needs a little bit of everything just in case !

    no team needs Brown and/or Scott. They are accessories of desire, not necessity.

  18. Deadman Waiting says:

    Even after Eakins comment, I still regarded Gazdic as a stop-gap measure in MacT’s mind. A team that intends to saw off the Broosies can either retaliate on the scoreboard or it can retaliate on the ice. There’s at least eight teams above us in the west were we can only dream about retaliating on the scoreboard.

    What does it accomplish to file onto the charter plane for a quick hop from St L to LA after losing 5-3 (three scoring lines) toting three ice-packs per player rather than losing 5-2 (two scoring lines) toting one ice-pack per player?

    Might as well charter a Midnight Express stage coach.

    It won’t feel like a good night’s sleep, but don’t worry, you’ll be surprised how quickly your legs come around after six cups of Joe. This works fine for a few months, but after six months of the six-Joe breakfast, you’ll either look like Ray Condo or a mature John Wayne, depending on which way your insulin crumbles. I know this is counter-heroic, but “sucking it up” is a finite resource, both physically and psychologically. The epic showdowns of sucking it up happen when both sides know in their heart that the other side is hurting just as much.

    Three scoring lines. Insufficient sand. Six Joe breakfast. Long season.

    I suspect the three-line scoreboard deterrent doesn’t kick in until you’re good enough to force the other team to choose between taking the puck or taking the body, or you’ll be left singing the Five Joe Blues when the other guys are icing Sand Quentin.

  19. Lois Lowe says:

    Gazdic brings an excellent THUNDEROUS bodychecks/60, his truculenceRel is through the roof, and his intangibles are off the charts. Quite clearly this is a player the Oilers cannot live without. The stats geeks aren’t watching the game close enough to see these things because they are too busy looking at spreadsheets.

    How was my Steve Simmons impersonation?

  20. justDOit says:

    Lois Lowe,

    Not enough yelling – is your caps-lock key broken?

  21. justDOit says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    One reminder. SJS signed Brown to two years and signed J. Scott.

    They also signed Tye McGinn, who is a big, physical energy guy who can mix it up. Well he can’t ‘mix it up’ quite like Mike Brown can, who broke McGinn’s orbital bone in a fight when Brown was still a Leaf.

    Awkward moments to come in the Sharks’ TC this fall, “Oh – hi Mike…”

  22. Lowetide says:

    Bruce McCurdy:

    (Quote) (Reply)

    Gazdic’s AHL scoring rates (including 23 points in a single season) seem in line with Stortini at a similar age. At his peak, Zack scored 13 points in 77 NHL games. I suspect Gazdic can climb the mountain.

  23. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Well lets hope. Zorg put up consecutive seasons of 12, 11, & 13 points which is 4th line scoring but at least it’s scoring. Gazdic put up 4 & you’re calling for another 4 which is goon level scoring.

  24. Lowetide says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    Well lets hope. Zorg put up consecutive seasons of 12, 11, & 13 points which is 4th line scoring but at least it’s scoring. Gazdic put up 4 & you’re calling for another 4 which is goon level scoring.

    Gazdic’s zone starts will KILL the offense! :-)

  25. boxman says:

    Deadman Waiting,

    On the mark…..yup.

  26. boxman says:

    This season in this conference Gazdic will be invaluable in some games. When we take the next step our power play will protect our talent, until then they have to know someone always has their back. Looking at just the numbers doesn’t take into account how Gazdic’s teammates feel about him. To me where analytics come up short is exactly a player like Gazdic.

  27. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Bob used LT’s favorite line:

    https://twitter.com/Bob_Stauffer/status/496020849821229057

    Bob’s going to have a beer, and then he’s going to have another one?

  28. justDOit says:

    boxman,

    Because according to analytics, this is Gazdic as a hockey player – so there has to be more to it? Maybe if we look at Snarl/60, or RelGlare%?

    Or maybe we should look at the team that gave him away – the Dallas Stars. Surely they have an even bigger, meaner winger than Gazdic – who doesn’t play much, is bad at hockey, but protects the stars from the bench while confounding the analytic types? Go ahead and have a gander at their roster, but I’ll save you the time – the answer is no.

    http://stars.nhl.com/club/roster.htm

    I guess MacT has shown some progress in shedding yesteryear’s definition of team composition, because this is the first off-season in a while where only one roster spot has been granted to muscle. Wait – Biznasty is still UFA? sighs… We wait.

  29. "Steve Smith" says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Bob used LT’s favorite line:

    https://twitter.com/Bob_Stauffer/status/496020849821229057

    That you would point that out says more about you than it does about Bob Stauffer.

  30. "Steve Smith" says:

    boxman:
    This season in this conference Gazdic will be invaluable in some games.

    Please make sure to point them out as they occur.

  31. striatic says:

    justDOit: this is the first off-season in a while where only one roster spot has been granted to muscle.

    Depends on what you consider Hendricks to be.

  32. jp says:

    boxman:
    This season in this conference Gazdic will be invaluable in some games.

    I don’t think invaluable means what you think it means.

  33. justDOit says:

    striatic,

    You’d really lump him in with Eager, Stortz (sorry LL), Brown and SMac (again…)?

  34. jp says:

    Lowetide: Gazdic’s AHL scoring rates (including 23 points in a single season) seem in line with Stortini at a similar age. At his peak, Zack scored 13 points in 77 NHL games. I suspect Gazdic can climb the mountain.

    I was thinking the same thing and expect you’re right.

    Also, has everyone on here been looking up Stortini’s stats? I checked them on Elite Prospects and his was the first name that came up once I’d typed Zack, even though he’s no longer an NHLer. Not Zack Smith or Zack Kassian. Weird.

  35. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “Steve Smith”: That you would point that out says more about you than it does about Bob Stauffer.

    My thinking was more along the line that this is apparently a very common idiom amongst a certain regional/age demographic.

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