The past off-season, when the Edmonton Oilers signed Boyd Gordon, by all accounts they hit a home run. The team hopes that by now acquiring a similar type player in Matt Hendricks that he becomes as equally good of a fit.
“Matt Hendricks has a lot of leadership ability and we need more veteran presence really highlighted by how Andrew Ference has been for our hockey club as well as Boyd Gordon,” said Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish. “And now we add another guy that has really good leadership and compete level.”
With a career 53% face-off efficiency, Hendricks helps the Oilers in that realm. This season, Hendricks is right on pace at 53.8% to rank second on the Predators.
“He’s a good penalty killer. He takes face-offs during the penalty kill. He’s an excellent face-off guy. He can play up your lineup. He can play on your third line and definitely can play on your fourth line,” MacTavish continued, adding that he can play anywhere up front.
“He’s been playing right wing in Nashivllle. Our pro scouts have had an eye on him for quite some time. He helps increase the abrasiveness on our group and has a lot of versatility.”
Hendricks, acquired in a trade on Wednesday in exchange for goaltender Devan Dubnyk, has two goals and two assists in 44 games this season with a minus-five rating. As a player who has chipped in nine goals in a season on several occasions he talked about getting a fresh start in Edmonton.
“I figured that something may be in the works,” Hendricks said about being traded from Nashville. “I felt like the season wasn’t going exactly the way we had planned and the Predators were in need of a goaltender.”
Hendricks talked about being somewhat familiar with the Oilers after having talked with the Oilers GM when he was a free agent this past summer.
“I talked with Craig MacTavish over the off-season during free agency and they had a lot of great things to say and it was an exciting time. And now to be able to go to Edmonton and be able to put on that Oilers jersey is pretty exciting.”
The forward talked about his role with the Oilers and where he sees himself fitting in.
“First, I’m going to try and get to know everybody, try and find my role and where they see me fitting in the lineup and fitting in the room. After that, I’ve got to be myself. I’m a guy that brings a lunch pail to work every day, works hard and tries to help establish that type of game that’s hard to play against, that gritty style of hockey.”
Hendricks is also a player who can fight if needed but brings an added skill set as a shootout specialist. In the shootout, Hendricks is 9-for-17 (52.9%) in his career. His best season was 2011-12 when he went 5-for-6.
“I have some offensive abilities that I haven’t been able to show a whole lot here in Nashville. But what I’m going to be here for mostly is to help the defensive style, the defence first tactics.”