Veteran 'role model A'

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

He was impressive on the blue-line.

So much so, that Jason Strudwick played more games on defence than originally anticipated by the Edmonton Oilers.

Now since being moved up to the wing, the 12-year veteran is getting the job done up front. All he needs is a goal.

"Talk about a guy getting 100% out of his ability," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's role model A, and we have lots of them. Horc (Shawn Horcoff) is another one of those guys, he gets 100% efficiency out of his game, his work ethic, attention to detail, professionalism. Strudwick is the same.

"He plays within his game, knows his game, stays within the box and keeps it simple. His consistency is amazing, whether he's playing defence or playing forward. The energy and consistency is a great example for the rest of the team, as is the enthusiasm that he approaches the work."

Signed by the Oilers as a free agent this off-season, Strudwick was brought in to provide experience and versatility, able to play both up front and on defence.

He played so well on the blue-line for the Oilers that it became difficult to take him out of the lineup. But with Ladislav Smid requiring playing time to develop, Strudwick was moved up to the fourth line with Kyle Brodziak and Zack Stortini, who coincidently are now playing their most effective hockey of the season.

"That comfort level is definitely coming," Strudwick said. "There are still little things that the coaching staff comes over and suggest maybe doing here and there. Brodie (Brodziak) is a pretty responsible centreman, so it makes it a lot easier knowing that he's back there. I have a pretty good comfort level being the third guy high or the deep man, so it's worked out pretty well."


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