SUN Hockey Pool

Fourth line special

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Kyle Brodziak said at the start of the season it would take until the Edmonton Oilers year-end banquet for him to feel comfortable with his place in the NHL.

But after a solid rookie campaign, the Oilers forward appears to have carved out a spot for himself on the roster for years to come.

"I'm pretty happy with the way it went," Brodziak said yesterday as the Oilers were cleaning out their lockers.

"I feel pretty confident in my game right now and that I can be an everyday NHLer.

"Over the course of the year I felt I grew as a player and I'm looking forward to next year to keep on improving my game."

Brodziak, 23, finished with 14 goals and 17 assists in 80 games this season. He became a valuable contributor for the Oilers and was a key component to the success of the fourth line down the stretch.

"I felt as though I didn't have the greatest first month," Brodziak said. "But after Christmas I started getting better every day and I felt really confident with my game over the last month or two. That's when I started feeling more confident in my game and I felt like I belonged here a little more."

"He's a guy that finished the season playing the best hockey he's ever played," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "I've got a lot higher expectations for him offensively, based on the way he's played in the last little while.

"The challenge for him is to come in with the same confidence that he finished the season with."

Brodziak, Curtis Glencross and Zack Stortini formed the Oilers' buzzsaw of a fourth line that helped to almost get them into the playoffs.


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