WHITNEY AND VISNOVSKY: A WIN-WIN TRADE?

I shudder to think what the Edmonton Oilers defence would look like without Ryan Whitney. Then again, the Anaheim Ducks would have an uglier back end than Terry Jones trundling up the press box stairs without Lubomir Visnovsky.

For all the debate when GM Steve Tambellini dealt Visnovsky to Anaheim for Whitney at the 2010 NHL trade deadline, what’s obvious, with the Oilers and Ducks facing each other today, is Whitney and Visnovsky have both served their new teams well since swapping addresses.

Whitney, 27, leads Oilers defenceman, and is among NHL leaders, with 0-16-16 in 18 games this season. He’s playing 25:55 a night and is a minus-1. All told since the trade, Whitney has 3-24-27 and is plus-6 in 37 games with the Oilers.

The rest of Edmonton’s defence, a group that includes Kurtis Foster, Theo Peckham, Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid, Jim Vandermeer, Shawn Belle and Jason Strudwick, has combined for 21 points.

Visnovsky, 34, has been every bit as impressive. He’ll face the Oilers today with 3-14-17 and a plus-5 rating in 22 games. He’s playing 25:14 a game. Since the trade, Visnovsky has compiled 8-22-30 with a rating of minus-1 in 38 games. The rest of Anaheim’s defence has combined for 21 points this season.

So, here we are.

WHAT I SAID

The 2010 trade deadline was obviously a hot topic. My take on it drew 309 comments. Here’s how I summed up Tambellini’s swap of Visnovsky for Whitney in the March 4 story:

"I get it why people like Visnovsky as a player. He’s smart. He’s productive. He thinks the game. He’s a damn good player, by far the best the Oilers have had on the back end the past two seasons.

"Visnovsky is also 33, and, unless he can buck Father Time over the final three years of his contract, his effectiveness, ice time and points production will almost certainly decline. Would Visnovsky have been a significant part of an Oilers team ready to contend in, say, 2011-12?

"Whitney, on the other hand, is just entering his prime. While there’s no doubt he’s struggled in Anaheim with just 4-24-28 this season (his bad numbers make him the Oilers leading scorer on defence), past seasons lead me to believe he’s better than he’s shown.

"With 38-150-188 in 335 games, including a career-high 59 points with Pittsburgh in 2005-06, Whitney sits at .56 points per game to this point in his career. That, it turns out, is the same as Visnovsky, who comes in at .56 with 88-254-342 in 606 games.

"So, which player will have been more productive when we add up the points the next three seasons? Whitney at $4 million or Visnovsky at $5.6 million? I know where my money is."

BEGGING TO DIFFER

A lot of people weren’t nearly as impressed with Tambellini’s work at the deadline in shipping out Visnovsky for Whitney. Here’s portions of some of the takes that you provided:

— TobiasFunke March 04 2010: "A fire hydrant could amass 59 points playing with Malkin, Crosby, and Gonchar. He failed miserably with Getzlaf and Perry. Wonder how he will fare with Gagner and Penner……"

–Jay March 04 2010:  "I don’t think there’s a chance that Whitney will outperform Visnovsky points-wise in the next 3 years. I’d actually bet that Visnovsky will out perform Whitney on his next contract too. Visnovsky is a very good offensive D-man. Is it his fault that he played on perhaps one of the worst teams in the last 20 years?"

— Ender March 04 2010: "Lubo was expensive, but he was earning every penny of his paycheque. That makes him very valuable to any team. Whitney, I would argue, is not worth every penny of $4M. That makes him drop drastically in my eyes in value, and that’s why I don’t have a problem with Staios for Johnson but I do with Lubo for Whitney."

The snippet from Ender was part of a much longer comment, so if you want it in full context refer to the comments section from March 4.

HERE AND NOW

I’m not surprised Whitney has performed as well as he has since his arrival in Edmonton. I knew his foot problems, not to mention how he was being used by Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle, were a factor in his slide in performance from his best season in Pittsburgh.

I’ll give all the Lubo lovers credit, though. Given his age, Visnovsky has performed better than I thought he would when the trade was made. He’s playing with a whole bunch of nothing on the back end in Anaheim, just as Whitney is here, and he’s still putting up very good numbers.

While Whitney is providing a bit more bang for the buck to this point — his cap hit is $4 million and he’ll earn $4.5 million this season, $5 million in 2011-12 and $5.5 in 2012-13 — Visnovsky has earned his money, as well. He’s a $5.6 million cap hit. He’ll earn $6 million this season, $5 million in 2011-12 and $3 million in 2012-13.

As it stands today, it’s looking a like a pretty good trade on both ends of the bargain. That said, I’ll stick with my original contention to Lubo Lovers that Whitney will outperform Visnovsky over the balance of their current contracts — there’s another 220 games or so remaining in the terms.

We watch.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • DimebagDave

    I can see your argument from the age perspective and I know that old 71 wasn’t overly physical in his own end but I also don’t see a lot more from Whitney then I did when he was in Pit or Ana; though I certainly understand he’s facing higher calibre opp with the Oilers and of course I’m a numbers guy so I gotta respect that.

    But I did hear tell that he puts up a few second assists!!

    • C-DOG

      First, I’ve noted that you’ve been focusing on what’s written instead of who’s been writing it for a dozen or so comments over several weeks now, and I don’t think one of your offerings has gone missing. Likewise, I haven’t imposed the standing “this IP doesn’t get to post here” edict, despite a list of reasons why that’s as long as my arm. There’s a message there, no?

      Second, the second assists thing was relevent when some people were getting ahead of themselves about Gilbert’s potential top end a couple of years back. Gilbert was picking up a lot easy points in certain situations.

      Whitney has had a bushel of second helpers this season as well, but he’s doing it with a group that doesn’t boast Souray and Grebeshkov on the back end. I’d also argue a review of the goals Whitney has had a hand in would show that his seconds have been a more crucial part of scoring plays than many of Gilbert’s were.

      And, for the record, I have no “dislike” of Gilbert. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of guys who get in on scoring plays but aren’t necessarily a critical part of making those plays happen. That was Gilbert a couple of years ago.

      I’ll be proven right on Gilbert over time (just as I’ve been wrong on other players).

      • Hemmertime

        RB: Im not gonna waste alot of my, yours or anyone else’s time except to say that I admit I could have done a much better and less incindiary job at stating my old point: you and everyone else in the MSM gave Lowe, IMO, a free ride.

        That’s still my opinion – and we can agree to disagree – as well it’s still my opinion that you somtimes talk down to posters who don’t deserve it and that you shouldn’t be so quick to delete comments.

        Anyway, I don’t focus on that much anymore and I just try to comment on posts and I appreciate your insight.

        But if my re-stating of those old opinions mean that you’ll want to delete this comment and those following then go ahead; I don’t dwell on it anymore but it’s still the way I feel about matters old and new.

  • Slick

    As much as i loved lubo’s play for the oilers (and i’m still a fan of him in anaheim) i think whitney is the better choice for the oilers at this point in time. Not to say that he is the better player, but he is much younger and he does bring a little bit more grit to the oilers back end.

  • DSF

    Dean Lombardi won this trade.

    He got the pieces he needed for Visnovsky while both the Oilers and Ducks get a player who essentially perform the same function while they are not in contention for anything.

  • ~Looks like my goat pick is turning out to be a keeper~

    Robin I generally like your acerbic wit but making fat jokes about Jonesy isn’t cool. I’m not wild about him as a writer but taking shots at someone for being fat isn’t something that I expected from you.

    • McCreeper

      You’re reaching here. You twice used “fat” in your comment. I used it how many times?

      I’m surprised such subtlety would be enough to make you feel the need to focus on one reference rather than on the context of the whole item.

      • You’re telling me that wasn’t a fat joke? Seriously?

        I have no criticism on the context of the whole item. It was a good article and a well reasoned argument. I just don’t think it is cool to take shots at someone about his weight that’s all. If that pisses you off there isn’t much I can do about it. It is your article so write what you want. I’ll do likewise with my comments.

  • He does make some good passes. But he also makes some god-awful blunders in our own end of the ice.

    I’m not a numbers person. But if i was, i would have to say “if he is playing nearly 1/2 the minutes of the game, he should be putting up points”.

    I personally think there should be only “one assist” per goal. Why is it two? What if every Oiler touched the puck before it went into the opposition net, while none of the opposition players touched it? Should’nt they all get an assist? That’s why I don’t understand the 2nd assist. I assume it is only to increase point total. Makes no sense whatsoever to me.
    The person who dishes the puck to the scorer is the only person who assisted on the goal.

    Stupid logic? Yeah probably. But i’m sticking to it man.

    Cheers everyone…have a good day.

  • Bucknuck

    I was all pissed off when the trade was made because Lubo was one of the only Oilers I didn’t want to be traded and we still had lots of dead weight at the time. I wanted other moves to be made and was unimpressed.

    Now…

    It turns out that it was a great trade. RB you were right I think. I remember reading your article in March and feeling somewhat mollified. It was one of the more savvy moves made by Tambellini, though I’m still not a fan of him.

  • C-DOG

    Entering the Coyotes game 13 of Whitneys 14 assists were 2nd Ass. He added 2 primary assists againt the Coyotes, but considering Whitney is putting up points every year I don’t care how they come , he adds a dimention that Vishnovsky doesn’t have, size/age. The Oilers p.k has been bad for a while and when they had Lubo they didn’t trust him on the p.k. and he didn’t play aginst the other teams best players, Souray did. You can’t have a d-man with a $5.6 mill cap hit if he isn’t good on the p.k. or doesn’t play against the other top players. One trick pony d-men can’t make $4 mil let alone 5.6, they are called DEFENCEmen after all.

    I like Lubo, but he’s not the right fit/cap hit.

    I wouldn’t say Lubo is on an island by himself, they did draft Fowler and is playing a lot with 7 points and has missed a few games due to injuries, and a bunch of teams will regret passing on him especialy the Rangers/Stars, mind blowing.

  • McCreeper

    Shadi: I don’t mind the second assists but it’s something that a certain someone cited in their dislike for a young Tom Gilbert so I figured it was only fair to bring it up:)

    • C-DOG

      Yes, but Brownlee said what are the chances that Gilbert can keep up that pace? And so far he was right, plus Whitney is producing year in and year out and actualy battles, If you read in between the lines it was a lot more than just the second assists Brownlee didn’t like, and of course now everone is all over Gilbert for everything.

  • Horcsky

    At the time I didn’t like the Lubo trade much, but Whitney will probably be the better player over the next few years. The one thing I miss about Lubo is his ridiculous/awesome tendency to aim top corner on one-timers from the point. That guy had a cannon, and Whitney doesn’t seem to have Lubo’s shooting prowess, as evidenced by his lower goal to point ratio and no goals yet this year.

      • Horcsky

        Seems like Foster has been doing his best to funnel pucks to the net, but when both him and Whitney are on the ice it seems like there is confusion as to who is supposed to be tee-ing it up, and who is supposed to be hammering pucks. Any thoughts on Foster’s PP work so far RB?

  • Hemmertime

    Foster does, when he feels like it. Almost like he lacks confidence along with accuracy. I think we made the right call on Souray though, with him our PP abit better, maybe we win a few more games. But hes definitely not good enough to get us to the playoffs so he would only hurt our draft pick and create a cancerous room.

  • Crash

    Doesn’t Foster lead this team in shots on goal? The problem with the lack of production IMO is that the Oilers still refuse to get traffic at the oppostions net for screens, deflections, rebounds and lucky bounces.

    If they EVER figure out that this is the way the majority of goals are scored in today’s NHL I believe they’d start winning more games and Foster’s production would increase.

    • Perhaps I should re-phrase: Nobody pounds the puck at the net on the PP with much success. Foster is throwing rubber at the cage, but two goals on 55 shots going into tonight translates to a shooting percentage of 3.6. Not a big threat, so far.

  • Mitch

    @Brownlee
    Robin what I like about Whitney is he has presence whenever he steps on the ice, not to suggest he is Pronger, but the closest thing we have had since Pronger. Whitney is a leader and seems to be enjoying Edmonton and will be a big part of the “oil change”. Just a thought but I would run with big Dubnyk in net, I hope the coaching staff can see that this kid looks ready for the challenge, or does Khaby’s contract suggest he should start the bulk of games. Also the biggest reason for the oilers improved play in the last 2 games is body position without the puck and battling for the puck. Nice to see the win tonight.

    • Oilers have to pay Khabibulin whether he plays or sits, so the money is spent.

      I’ve said I think the remaining games should be split. That won’t happen, but it makes no sense and does nothing for assessing Dubnyk if he doesn’t see at least 25-30 games this season.

  • Vish is a very skilled, offensive weapon, but here’s the problem, he’s 5’2″, nobody talks about that. When you’re in the playoffs, all it takes is for one big dude(see Backes) to railroad him, and he’s done, out, gone. Injury.
    Whitney at least won’t get hurt.
    Otherwise, the trade is a wash.