- Photo by Andy Devln | Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
It was a triple-header of signings that Edmonton made on July 5th. The biggest splash on that day was the deal made with Andrew Ference. A local kid and Cup winner who was coming home to help shore up the blueline. At the opposite end was the signing of Jason LaBarbera. A steady and seasoned netminder with a track record as a backup who could also pitch in and play more often if necessary. In between the two of those deals was Boyd Gordon. A name, if not overly familiar, at least recognizable. A centreman brought in the day after another centreman, Shawn Horcoff, had been shipped to Dallas. On the surface it looked like Gordon would be a fill in for the departed captain. He's already turned into much more than that.
When he first arrived here's what we knew about Boyd Gordon. He was a former first round pick (17th in 2002) of Washington's who played his junior hockey in Red Deer and won a Memorial Cup. He also represented Canada at the World Junior Championships and won a silver medal. He spent 8 seasons with the Capitals and the last 2 with the Phoenix Coyotes. The 6'0"-202 pound man in the middle came with the reputation of being a shot blocker, defensive stalwart and a faceoff specialist. What we didn't know about him was that he could also score goals at a better rate than he ever has before.
Prior to joining the Oilers Gordon had played in 486 NHL games and scored 39 goals. The math on that is that he would get a goal about every 12 games. The Unity. Saskatchewan native had put together seasons of scoring from 0 in 2005-06 (25 games) to a career best 8 in 2011-12. He was a complimentary offensive player who earned his keep at the other end of the ice. That is until he showed up in Edmonton and started scoring goals. One on opening night, another one in game two then single markers against Toronto and his old team Washington. Seven games into the season and Boyd Gordon is the Oilers leading goal scorer and already halfway to equaling his career high in goals.
While the offence has been somewhat unexpected, everything else that has been part of his past came with him to Edmonton. It started in the pre-season when he laid out to block a shot. I don't think anyone would have blamed a 10 year vet for taking a pass but the easy way out isn't Gordon's style. In the regular season he's second on the team in blocked shots with 15 leaving him a couple back of Ladislav Smid's 17. As if that's not impressive enough he's arrived as advertised, if not better, with his work in the faceoff circle. A 15-8 win loss record against Pittsburgh pushed his season totals on the dot to above 63%. Basically every 2 out of 3 times Gordon takes a faceoff it's Edmonton that ends up with the puck. What stats don't tell you is the calmness he gives the team and specifically the coach. A player Dallas Eakins can count on to do his best and also give it his best effort everytime he's on the ice.
It's only been a couple of weeks but it certainly doesn't look like Gordon will be a flash in the pan.
Gene Principe is the host of Oilers broadcasts on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Oilers.