Edmonton Oilers sign Jason Strudwick

Ian WilsonCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2008

The Edmonton Oilers have added some grit in tough guy Jason Strudwick, inking the defenceman to a one-year deal.

“Jason is a veteran NHL defenceman who will add depth and a physical presence on our blueline,” stated Kevin Prendergast, the Oilers’ Vice-President of Hockey Operations in a press release. “A proven leader, he is excited to be returning to his hometown to play and we are looking forward to having him as part of our defensive corps.”

The 33-year-old, who can also play left wing, spent the last three seasons with the New York Rangers.

The move is expected to add toughness to an Oiler lineup that was decimated by injuries in recent years. Strudwick is a willing combatant who doesn't hesitate to stand up for teammates (even if it's Sean Avery!).

With the signing, the Oilers' defence looks set and the re-signing of forward Zach Stortini remains up in the air. Stortini is not afraid to drop the gloves either, although Strudwick is a fighter who can better hold his own against the league's top pugilists. Rumours that Stortini wants to be making a salary in the $1-million per season range could mean that "Zach Attack" - a more effective pest than a fighter - could follow linemate Curtis Glencross out of town.

No word from Oilers star forward Ales Hemsky on Strudwick's arrival, but he should feel a tad safer with the 6'4", 225 pound veteran on the team.

More from the Oilers press release:

"(He) will be entering his 12th NHL season this coming fall and the Oilers will be his fifth team. Strudwick, who will turn 33 on July 17th, has played 488 career NHL games since turning pro with the New York Islanders in 1995-96. He has scored 11-27-38 and registered 678 career penalty minutes during his career that has seen him play with the Islanders, Vancouver, Chicago and the New York Rangers.

Drafted by the Islanders in the third round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Strudwick played 52 games with the New York Rangers in 2007-08. Averaging 12:56 minutes of ice time per game, he scored 1-1-2 with 40 penalty minutes and was even in the plus/minus rankings. He was scoreless in two post-season appearances.

Strudwick turned pro after a successful junior career that saw him win back-to-back Memorial Cup championships with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in 1993-94 and 1994-95."