When the Injuries Heal: Matt Hendricks | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours

When the Injuries Heal: Matt Hendricks

Anton Lander was placed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. The reason for this may be the impending return of Matt Hendricks to the lineup.

Hendricks was diagnosed with a lower-body injury early in the pre-season and hasn't played a game since. There was a time the Oilers were on a winning streak and it looked like it might be tough to find a place for Hendricks. Oh, how times have changed.


Matt Hendricks

Hendricks is a fourth-line grinder. He's got a little skill and speed to go with it, but his biggest attribute is that he provides energy for a team that could use it. I wrote earlier in an article about Hendricks time coming a close the following:

Rough isn't new for Hendricks. A soldier on the ice, he's made a career out of doing the dirty work as a player in the NHL. He's a veteran center/winger who night in and night out arguably puts in more effort than any other Oiler. He's also the type of player every coach wishes they had more of. He's just no longer a terribly talented hockey player — at least not by the standards that current NHL GM's use to qualify players of importance and contract renewals. He is getting older and his underlying numbers aren't good. He went this entire past season as a negative Corsi player, barely cracked the fourth line and offered little to no scoring or point production. Edmonton has prospects in the system who are bubbling from under and looking to take his job. It's only a matter of time before they will. 
Hendricks came to Edmonton from the Nashville Predators. In the 2013–14 season, he struggled to meet the expectations of his new contract with the Predators, producing just four points in 44 games and he was traded to the Oilers in exchange for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. In his second season with the Oilers, Hendricks rebounded offensively with 16 points in 71 games. Hendricks' work ethic was rewarded in the form of a third nomination for the Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Where Hendricks Fits


Matt Hendricks may be the spark Edmonton needs to get them out of this slump, but he's not going to be anything more than a bottom-line player. He will penalty kill, take the odd faceoff and forecheck, so his contributions shouldn't be understated. That said, he won't likely provide the scoring punch Edmonton needs as they dwell over these last five games near the bottom of the NHL in goals scored.

Will he be an improvement over Anton Lander? Probably.


Long-Term


This is likely Hendricks' last year with the Oilers. He's 36 and he's on the cusp of being one of those players who will spend the summer looking for a team to give him a shot as an unrestricted free agent. He'll need to play extremely well and avoid further injury over these last 60 games to really make an impact and extend his NHL career.

It will be nice to have Hendricks back, but I don't expect it to be a long-term thing. If he's an Oiler by this time next season, I'd be surprised.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




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