#9: Brad Winchester
The best players you've never heard of
Team: Edmonton Oilers
Pos.: LW Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 215
Hometown: Madison, Wis.
Key stats: Playing on a line with Marty Reasoner and Patrick Thoresen, Winchester has put up pretty decent totals (three goals, four assists in 20 games) despite the fact he's only averaging 7:49 ice time per game. He currently leads the Oilers with a +5 rating, is second in PIM with 34 (including four fights) and has an impressive 29 shots on goal.
James on Brad: The first thing you notice about Winchester whenever he's on the ice is that he's a big, big body — a guy who's a born power forward and is going to have a lot of success banging bodies on any team's third line. After struggling early, he's fit in much better and begun to produce some offence, including a stretch in mid-November where he had six points in seven games. He was on a 50-plus goal pace last season in the AHL, but was pretty inconsistent in four years in the NCAA. While a rookie, he's already 25 years old.
Pub for Brad: “Brad's doing everything now that he wasn't in training camp ... he was tentative and passive, he wasn't taking the puck to the net or protecting it down low,” head coach Craig MacTavish told the Edmonton Journal. “He was always on edge before, but now he's played himself into a pretty important position on the team, going from an average of five or six minutes a game to 11.
“He's determined around the net, something I haven't seen for a while.
“He looks so much more comfortable now. Before it was looking absolutely like rocket science when you'd watch him, but he's simplified his game.”