SUN Hockey Pool

Monster from Madison knows his role

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

He'll have a job waiting for him on left wing and a one-way contract in his pocket when the Edmonton Oilers open training camp.

Brad Winchester, who signed a two-year deal worth $950,000 Wednesday, doesn't need anybody to draw him a diagram to know how he fits into Craig MacTavish's vision of a bigger, grittier team.

Winchester, after all, is a college man. As captain of the Wisconsin Badgers, the six-foot-five, 230-pound Winchester was the big man on campus in more ways than one.

He'll figure it out. "It's an exciting opportunity," Winchester said. "I'm happy to be signed and I just want to be a part of this organization."

With Brad Isbister jettisoned to Boston for a draft pick and the one-way deal inked, the window of opportunity is wide open for Winchester, who earned his shot with an excellent sophomore season in the AHL with the Edmonton Road Runners.

Winchester scored 22-18-40 and added 143 penalty minutes in 76 games, a quantum leap forward from his first pro campaign, when he managed 13-6-19 as a rookie in Toronto.

The Monster from Madison has nice hands for a big man, a nasty streak, is almost impossible to get a handle on in front of the net and he moves well for a skyscraper on skates.

"From a team standpoint, last year was a bit frustrating because we didn't make the playoffs," he said.

"I felt like I took some strides and I learned a lot from the coaching staff and the guys in the room."

Drafted 35th by Edmonton in 2000 - the Oilers used the pick they got from the New York Islanders in the Roman Hamrlik trade that landed Eric Brewer and Josh Green - MacTavish intends to move Winchester from the right side to the left as a fourth-line winger. The bookend on the line will be 250-pound Georges Laraque, leaving Todd Harvey or Marty Reasoner to play in the shadows between 480 pounds of muscle.

"Playing a power-forward role and combining size with skill is something I want to do," Winchester said.

"I like to control the puck and create room for my teammates."

AROUND THE RINK ... hard-nosed forward Dan Baum, who spent 2004-05 with the Road Runners, has been free of the headaches that plagued him at training camp and at the end of last season for over a month and should be ready to go when camp begins.


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