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Stauffer: Oilers look to toughen up

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
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After two seasons of not having a true enforcer Oilers Management and Head Coach Craig MacTavish have opted to consider keeping up with the arms race in the Northwest Division by plucking Steve Macintyre off of waivers from the Florida Panthers.

The 6’6”, 265-pound, 28 year-old mopped the floor with several legitimate AHL heavyweights last  season according to numerous scouts and was a sought after commodity this past off-season with several teams inquiring about his services.

The decision to give Macintyre a shot is yet another illustration of an organization looking to toughen up, after going with a “team tough” philosophy the last two seasons.

It is well known that the Oilers made a serious push to bring back Georges Laraque during the free agency period this summer, but the NHL’s best fighter elected to sign in a three-year deal in Montreal.

Two other NHL Northwest Division teams inked deals with players that at one time or another may have been on the Oilers radar screen.

Macintyre’s former Saskatoon Blades’ teammate Darcy Hordichuk, who is represented by Laraque’s agent Steven Kotlowitz, signed a three-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks very early in the free agency period.

After Laraque signed in Montreal, some thought former Tampa Bay tough guy Andre Roy might be a good fit, but he accepted a one-way deal from rival Calgary.

With Oiler nemesis Derek Boogaard in Minnesota and Scott Parker in Colorado the Oilers were in the only team in the Northwest without the option of dressing a “true” heavyweight.

The Oilers desire to toughen up has been organization-wide as they brought in free agents Sean McMorrow and Guillaume Lefebvre out of the LNAH for training camp; and signed the under-sized but game Hans Benson out of Peoria (AHL), and tough-as-nails agitator Garet Hunt from the Vancouver Giants to help give the Springfield Falcons more jam at the American League level.

Macintyre though potentially gives the Oilers something a little different... a super-heavyweight who can help limit the shots that some of the Oilers skilled players have absorbed since the start of the 2006-07 season after Laraque wasn’t re-signed during the summer of 2006.

With Zack Stortini continuing to develop into a decent fourth-line forward and having the likes of Ethan Moreau, Sheldon Souray, Steve Staios and Jason Strudwick the Oiler could dress a line-up that keeps you pretty honest most nights.

Macintyre gets his first look tonight in Calgary. My guess is that he arrives in ill humour.

Stauffer Stuff:

If the Macintyre doesn’t claim one of 23 spots on the Oilers NHL roster at the start of the season, fully expect him to be claimed off of waivers if the Oilers try to send him down to Springfield.

MacTavish has complimented the play of young defenceman Taylor Chorney and Theo Peckham throughout training camp, saying they are very close to playing at the NHL level.

There are some in the organization that believe that Peckham has bigger upside then Matt Greene, and is a perfectly-suited #6 defenceman, capable of providing toughness and a no-frills defence first game.

Bob Stauffer is in his first season as the color commentator for the Edmonton Oilers Radio network on 630 CHED.

He spent the last five seasons as the drive-show host on the Team 1260 and was a weekly columnist in the Edmonton Sun.
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