Finding a new home

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

DALLAS -- The Edmonton Oilers could use a big, tough, aggressive winger like Brad Winchester.

So could the Dallas Stars.

That's why they're trying to pick up where the Oilers left off in developing the six-foot-five 228 pounder with the big heart.

It isn't always a smooth and easy project - ask the Oilers, who gave up after four years in the organization, including parts of two in the NHL - but the Stars see tremendous value and upside in the 26-year-old. Much like the Oilers did when they drafted him 35th overall in 2000.

'A BIG GUY'

"He's a big guy who brings some size and he actually has pretty good hands for a big guy," said Stars coach Dave Tippett. "The thing that we look for from him is consistency. He has a lot of tools in the bag, he has to be willing to put them forward every night."

Winchester has one assist in 17 games, playing about eight minutes a night, and has dropped the gloves for Dallas a few times already. They want him to concentrate first on being an energy guy and let everything else fall into place after that.

"We're looking for a certain style of game, bump and grind, a heavy game," said Tippett. "The consistency is the part he has to make sure he has every night."

The Oilers, who were left hanging physically when J.F. Jacques turned out to be a bust, could really use some of the strength and energy Winchester possesses, but MacTavish didn't care much for the rest of his game and the organization finally decided to turn the page last summer, letting him go for nothing.

"It wasn't a rash decision (not to make him a qualifying offer)," said MacTavish. "He's got lots of elements to his game, the only thing that stops him from being more productive is being a little heavy footed.

"He's a good person. I liked working with him. But if you don't have foot speed you have to have a heightened sense of anticipation. You have to read the ice and be able to tell where it's going and be there a step ahead of everybody. Sometimes that was a little slow with him as well and it was tough to overcome that.

"What he did for us he did a pretty good job. He's tough, he's a good teammate. If he had quicker feet he'd be fine."

Winchester had a sense when he was here that, for whatever reason, he was never going to find his way into MacTavish's good books.

'TIME TO MOVE ON'

"It was a situation where maybe it was time for me to move on as a player," he said. "Kevin (Lowe) and I saw eye to eye on a lot of things. Other people, maybe not so much. We'll leave it at that.

"In terms of the organization, it was great to be there. I have a lot of good memories. I'm not going to let the way things ended be the way that I look at Edmonton. The guys on the team and the fans... it's a great city. I felt like part of a family there. It was tough when it was time to move on."

But he's enjoying the heck out of Dallas.

"Yeah, I enjoy it here, it's a great organization, a winning mindset, it's good to be a part of. It was just a good fit. I have an opportunity to grow here. Establish a good, solid energy game and go from there. That's what I'm trying to do, build and get better."


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