Oilers: Is Radunske the complete package?

By Guy Flaming






Is Radunske The Complete Package

Brock Radunske looks like he has it
all.  Standing 6’4” and weighing in at
nearly 200 lbs the power forward is certainly noticeable for his size when he’s
on the ice.  If his mass isn’t enough to
get your attention, then his dominating on ice performance should take care of
that in short time.

 

Well maybe.

 

The Canadian born Radunske is in his third year
playing with Michigan State where the Spartans are desperately trying to climb
the ladder in the CCHA.  A successful
weekend against Ohio State has propelled the Spartans up from fifth place to
second overall in the conference but the spot is shared with the archrival
Michigan Wolverines.

 

It’s a really
tight race,” said Radunske from Munn Ice Arena.  “I think only four points separate first and seventh place.  I guess you could say that our destiny is in
our own hands since we control the outcome by coming up big and winning the big
games because that’s what we need to do.”
      

 

The CCHA is
incredibly competitive this year but for Radunske and the Spartans their
toughest competition is never reflective of what the standings may be at the
time.

 

“It’s Michigan all the time no matter if
they’re the toughest team at the moment or not,” Radunske revealed.  “Just because of the intensity of every game
and the urgency that’s brought to that night.”

 

It would be a bit surprising to see a
couple of Spartan and Wolverine players conversing as friends but that happened
last summer when the Oilers held their first ever top prospects mini camp.  Radunske attended and so did Michigan star Dwight
Helminen
.

 

We hung out a
lot because, both of us being college kids, we found out we had a lot in
common,” Radunske said.  “It’s kind of
nice to be on the other side when it’s not so competitive and just hang out
with him.”

 

The mini-camp also
provided Radunske the opportunity to reacquaint himself with two other Oiler
prospects that were also former teammates from his earlier playing days.

 

“I played with Pat
Murphy
and Zack Stortini for the New Market Hurricanes during my
last year in junior,” the big winger recalled. 
“I hadn’t had a chance to see them in a while so it was good to catch up
with them.”

 

Radunske was born in
Kitchener, Ontario but grew up in the town of New Hamburg.  Radunske pursued the opportunity to play for
Michigan State rather than continue up through Canadian Major Junior because he
felt it would be better suited to him.

 

“I just felt that it
would give me a better chance to reach my goals and give me an extra couple of
years to mature and develop into a more all around hockey player.”

 

That has happened and
the improvement in Radunske’s game since the Oilers drafted him in the third
round of 2002 has been noticeable to those who follow him.

 

When we drafted him he was a big gangly kid who was a raw prospect
with hands,” Oiler scout Chris McCarthy described.  “His legs were so skinny he looked a little bit like Bambi out on
the ice.” 

 

“This past year he started out slow but
then kind of got his feet underneath him and he’s starting to turn into a power
forward by using his size to his advantage and going to the net, paying the
price in front of the net and chipping in cheap goals.”

 

He’s
playing a lot more physical than he has in the last couple of years and he’s
working on his skating, which was a bit of a problem for him,” said Kevin
Prendergast, Edmonton’s VP of Hockey Operations.  “He’s getting stronger now so he can handle it more.  Brock’s also playing a bigger role at
Michigan State this year than he was in his previous two years. 

 

Radunske feels that his game is well
balanced and because he has experience playing anywhere up front, his
versatility makes him a better player too.

 

“I’d like to think that I’m a good all
around player,” began the Spartan.  “I
have good hands for my size, I grew up playing center so I think that one of my
stronger aspects is my playmaking skills. 
Every team that you go to you’re going to have a role that you are asked
to play and I think one of my strengths is that I can play a lot of different
roles.  I’ve played both wings this year
and I grew up playing center so I think I could fit into a lot of different
situations quite nicely.”

 

It sounds as though Radunske is the
complete package. However, as it is with every player there is at least one
area where a need for improvement exists and with Radunske, it’s consistency.

 

“Brock Radunske is an enigma right now,”
described Michigan based Oiler scout Bob Mancini.  “He could, in one period, be the worst player on the ice or the best.  Looking at it, as the glass is half full, I
guess it’s really a good thing because Brock is showing that he has ability and
potential. 
He has made some improvements to his game but
his biggest hurdle is to use his size more effectively and to play with
more consistency.”

 

To his
credit, Radunske agrees with that criticism and knows he must address those
areas of his game on top of other things he wants to improve.

 

I’d say that’s a fair assessment,” Radunske agreed after hearing the
scouting report on him.  “I think
consistency is one of the harder things to achieve in today’s game.  To be consistent night in and night out, if
I could put good games together back to back to back, that would probably be
something that would mean I’m ready to make the next jump to the next level.”

 

“I’d say my main focus right now is to
get stronger and put on weight so I can have a bigger physical presence night
in and night out because I think that’s what will be asked of me in the future,”
continued the winger who is on pace to having his best college season
statistically.

 

Nicknamed “Brocko” since he was a
youngster, Radunske says he grew up in an athletic family and that sports have
always been a major focus in his life. 
There is a sister playing university level basketball in Buffalo right
now, a sport which Radunske played until he the time came when he had to make
the choice to concentrate on hockey.

 

Currently enrolled as a communications
major, Radunske jokingly suggests that he’s preparing for his broadcasting
career for when his playing days are done.

 

“I guess I can make the easy transition
then,” he laughed.

 

The Oilers have Radunske on their radar
and hope to see continued development from the player as he completes this
season and graduates from college next year. 
Radunske plans on turning pro for the 2005-06 season and would almost
assuredly be pencilled in for the AHL at that time.

 

Edmonton fans will get their next chance
to see Radunske in person at this summer’s prospect camp in Sherwood Park.