SUN Hockey Pool

Vandermeer adds grit to Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:42 PM ET

Jim Vandermeer had already made an impression with the Edmonton Oilers.

Two seasons ago, as a member of the Calgary Flames, the six-foot-one, 208-pound defenceman out of Caroline, Alta., jumped Marc Pouliot in an exhibition game, pounded on the Oilers forward, and opened up a nasty gash on his forehead that left a puddle of blood on the ice.

Not one to shy away from an opponent seeking retribution, Vandermeer then stood up to Steve MacIntyre.

“I remember that,” Vandermeer said. “It was on a goal that they scored and he (Pouliot) turned around and kind of looked at me the wrong way and I figured that was enough.

“After that, obviously I knew when you beat up a guy that’s not really a fighter, that something else is coming your way. I’ve fought some big boys in my day and that’s not going to deter me from roughing up a skilled player.”

Fortunately for the Oilers, it won’t be their skilled players Vandermeer will be roughing up next season, having acquired the 30-year-old from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Patrick O’Sullivan on Wednesday.

Both players had been put on waivers by their respective clubs and cleared.

After the trade, O’Sullivan was then bought out by the Coyotes, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday.

Vandermeer, who is set to make $2.3M next season — the final year of a three-year contract — will be staying with the Oilers.

“It’s exciting to be coming to Edmonton,” Vandermeer said. “I grew up in central Alberta, my entire family, we were Oilers fans growing up. I’m really looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be a blast.”

A former Memorial Cup winner with the Red Deer Rebels, Vandermeer was not drafted and broke into the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers on a free-agent deal.

He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks before briefly returning to Philadelphia and then headed to Calgary. The Oilers are his fifth NHL team.

“We were able to accomplish something with the transaction, which is getting more depth with the type of compete and presence that Jim Vandermeer brings us,” said Oilers GM Steve Tambellini. “He plays hard, he plays both sides, left and right defence, he’s hard in front of the net and I didn’t think we had enough of that abrasiveness. He brings people along with that emotional type of game that we talked about that was a need of ours.”

Last season, Vandermeer had four goals and added eight assists to go along with 60 penalty minutes in 62 games with the Coyotes.

However, he found himself the odd-man out towards the end of season as the team’s seventh defenceman.

“I was definitely disappointing in the way things worked out there,” Vandermeer said. “But that’s part of the business.”

With the Oilers, it’s expected Vandermeer will be on the team’s third paring. Part of his role will be to look after some of the team’s young, high-profile talent.

“That’s nothing new to me,” he said. “That was the type of role I had going into Chicago. They didn’t do very well for a while and they got some higher picks and they needed to bring in some older guys to kind of show them the ropes and show them how to be good pros.

“As far as my game, being a little bit more a physical guy, that’s to be expected.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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