Rebuilding The Defence

Defencemen develop by sundial.

A quick glance at the current roster confirms that. Ryan Whitney was a fifth overall pick in 2002, but didn’t play his first NHL game until he’d spent two more years in college and played 120 contests in the AHL. Tom Gilbert’s arrival in the NHL didn’t happen until five years after he was drafted. Ladislav Smid went ninth overall in 2004; he spent a year in Europe and a year in the AHL before he arrived in Edmonton (where he was rushed into the line-up to show the fruits of the Pronger trade) and only really emerged as a reliable player last season – and he (hopefully) still has a ways to go, in his fifth NHL season. Kurtis Foster, meanwhile, played more than 300 games in the AHL and spent two post-draft seasons in junior before finally making the jump to the NHL in 2005-06.

The point here is that it can take a long time for a defenceman to go from draft pick to reliable NHL’er. This is true even of top-10 draft picks. Over at Houses of the Hockey, I looked at top-10 picks from the last 10 drafts and found just three ready to contribute immediately on an NHL blue-line.

For the Edmonton Oilers, this presents a bit of a problem. The team’s blue-line has been its most obvious weakness, and while the team is blessed with an assortment of competent defensive prospects, none look to be ready for top-four duty any time soon. Theo Peckham’s just breaking into the league, and while the team’s key minor league prospects (in order: Jeff Petry, Alex Plante, Taylor Chorney) all have things going for them, none of them have been so compelling in the AHL that they’re shoe-ins for an NHL spot at this time. Elsewhere, Martin Marincin might be the team’s best defensive prospect, but he’s still playing junior hockey and is probably looking forward to at least one year in the AHL before he seriously threatens for an NHL roster spot.

Even if the Oilers were blessed with half a dozen prospects breaking down the doors, they couldn’t play them all at the NHL level. Only once in the last 10 seasons have the Oilers broken in more than one rookie defenceman at a time, back in 2002-03 – and one of those rookies was a 25-year old European pro named Ales Pisa. Neither he nor top prospect (at the time) Alexei Semenov cracked the 50 game barrier. I’d suggest that at the very most the Oilers might carry three rookie defencemen at one time, and that it is far more likely they would not carry more than two. Additionally, if they chose to carry two rookie defencemen next season, they would almost certainly be unable to carry two more in 2012-13. There are only so many spots on any blue-line that can go to players still developing into NHL’ers.

The difficulty of breaking NHL defencemen in is only half the problem. The other half is the weakness of the Oilers’ current group. I’d argue that as it stands they need at least two more top-four (ideally top-two) defencemen, without making any subtractions. That would allow them to ice a top four including Whitney and Gilbert, and leaving Smid and Foster on the third pairing with Peckham subbing in for whoever is playing poorest. Those kind of players are not easy to find.

The way I see it, this means that somewhere along the way, Steve Tambellini is going to have to start augmenting his defensive corps through some avenue other than the NHL Entry Draft. He’s done a tremendous job of dismantling it (he inherited a team with Visnovsky, Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Staios, and Smid on the back end) but this summer it will be time to add pieces, either via trade or free agency. Capable veterans will be needed to ride shotgun for whatever young players are added to the group, and they have to do more than add toughness or be a presence in the dressing room – they need to be able to provide on-ice support.

  • Rogue

    Would be nice to have to have Smid and Peckham as 3rd line pairing, Whitney and Petry as 2nd line and Marincin and ? as 1st line. Our biggest downfall is physicality on the D. That is one reason everyone is in love with Pecks, (as I am too)maybe we are overestimating his final place in things. For the past few years, I have seen the opposition skate into corners and front of the Oil net with little or no fear of getting hit. Not to compare,with old Oil, but a Fogolin, Jackson, Lowe, Muni never put fear offensively, but knew how to punish in own end. We do not need 6 stars on D, just capable guys who know how and when to use body.

    Up front our 4th. line will eventually have 3 different players with a big tough center, 3rd line have Horc and 2 bangers on wings, Gags, Hemsky, Hall, Eberle, MP and a Stud Center.

    These are my Xmas wishes. Either that or I have been drinking too much in Thailand. Time will tell. ELPH for this year.

  • DSF

    @ Willis.

    Surely you jest…on a contender, Peckham, Smid, Foster, Vandermeer and Strudwick would be #9, #10,#11, #68 and #666.

    Go check out the contenders…really.

  • John Chambers

    The Oilers have the ability this off-season to overpay a free agent on a 2-year contract. Why a 2-year contract? Because it’s the length of time before Hall, Eberle, and MPS’s entry-level contracts expire.

    Who should they go after?

    Think Kaberle would sign here for 2 yrs $13M? Andrei Markov, same dollars? What about Jason Williams at 2 yrs $11 or $12M? I also like Ville Leino who’s a UFA.

    Some answers to fix the defense short-term, but they’re not cheap, and certainly just a stop-gap until new talent can be developed / traded for.

    • VMR

      The problem is getting anyone to sign a 2 year contract. Most UFA’s are looking to sign a long term deal so they’ve got security. You think Kaberle takes that 2 year $13 million deal if he gets an offer for 6-8 years even if it’s only for 26-30 million?

    • Crash

      No, Kaberle won’t sign here, Markov either…IMO, not yet anyway

      Jason Williams is a washed up forward (did you mean Justin Williams?) and Ville Leino is a forward this team doesn’t need..

      In any event, we certainly don’t need to overpay for more top six forwards that aren’t bonfide stars and Williams and Leino definitely aren’t.

      • John Chambers

        I suppose one of the ways to re-build the defense would be to deal Penner or Hemsky later in the season for a young defensemen. Someone was floating around Forbort (LA D prospect) last week.

        If that was the case then we would have the money and need to add a top 6 RW in the offseason. Both Leino and Williams (Justin, you’re correct) would make for a decent interim solution. J Williams has 2 x 30-goal seasons on his resume and is top 25 in scoring this year.

        There’s no Hamhuis or Paul Martin in this summer’s FA crop, so GROSSLY OVERPAYING for Kaberle or Markov would be the only way to sign a marquee FA on D. This may be palatable on a 2-year basis as previously explained.

      • Its not top 6 forwards we need as much as bottom 6. Those guys you overpay if you have to because the magnitude of the overpay is inconsequential to a team so far below the cap. As it is right now, we’re asking our top six guys to win games on their own, which is why when Hemsky is out of the lineup our “first line” is HHE – because there’s nobody else to carry the mail.

        *Thinks about HHE as our defacto first line*


        • C-DOG

          The top six is 1/2 the problem, A legit #1 centre would put Horcoff were he belongs, as an elite 3rd line/shutdown centre who can score 35-40 points in that role, with Brule/Reddoux on his wings, whatever they lack in size they make up with grit/speed, and Brule would be a second faceoff man on the line, allowing both to cheat a little more in the faceoff circle.

        • Wanyes bastard child

          I kind of agree there, also with Mr Chambers and crash all to a certain extent.

          I like Chambers idea of overpaying for 2 years and like Crash said those guys wouldn’t sign. Also I don’t think we need to overpay for the top 6 since we are grooming our young guns for those roles.

          How about in the off season we overpay for the roles that we know we need? We know we need faceoff/pk people (don’t quote Malholtra at me anyone) and defence. We have the cap space im sure to overpay and shore up a couple good defenders as well as at least 2 forwards for the bottom 6 to improve our PK and our faceoffs.

          Im just not sure who is out there next summer to be had other than what Johnny mentioned…

        • Crash

          You won’t believe this but I agree with you…lol

          This team does need some bottom six forwards but not as much as it’s needs a couple of good d-men.

          IMO though, the bottom six forwards we need require some size and grit to their game with a bit of offensive ability…guys like Chris Neil and Nick Foligno IMO.

          I also do hear what you’re saying about the magnitude of the overpay being inconsequential..but you know only to well how that would play out here if the team didn’t win most of the time and we had underachieving overpayed FA’s.

    • C-DOG

      Shopping Gagner before the draft might of landed Fowler/Gormely, that would of went a long way in rebuilding the “D”. Especially in Fowlers case, he will be the Zack Parise of this draft.

      • It also would have caused the Oilers to have 0 prospects or players under 25 at Centre in the Organization that can push for the top 6.

        So yay, the Oilers would have 1 more defenseman who MIGHT turn out to be as good of an NHLer as Gagner at the expense of the only bit of depth at the Centre position the team has.

        Well played. Your trade just put the club backwards.

        I get that you dont think Gagner will ever be good enough to push the team to a Championship (disturbingly premature*), but surely you are aware that the team has absolutely no one else who can fill his shoes now or in the future.

        *that’s what she said

        • C-DOG

          They will have a top centre prospect this June if the team wants one and that trade would have looked even better had they drafted a centre last year, to go along with Horcoff, Cog’s,Brule could play there for the mean time since it is a rebuild you know.

          You would rather have Couturier or Hopkins and Gagne, instead of Couterier or Hopkins and Fowler? What planet are you living on? My team would have Seguin,Couterier/Hopkins and Fowler.

          And I will say it again Gagner is not a centre in my opinion, if the Oilers were to have a centre of similar size it would Eberle, How do you expect a slow, week 5’10” player that can’t even be 46% in the right hand circle after 4 years to go head to head with, Sedin,Kessler,M Koivu,Stasney,Dushene,Thornton,Pavelski,Couture,Getzlaf,B Richards,Kopitar,Zetterberg,Datsyuk,Toews,Sharp Brassard,Johansen,Schenn in the freaking tough western conference. It takes more than 60 points to be a great 2nd line centre you know there is that place called the d-zone, you people seem to forget that when evaluating little Sammy.

          The Oilers today could never get Fowler for Gagne and 95%-100% of g.m’s would agree. But if shopped ahead of time maybee it would have been possible.

          As a matter of fact extremely “well played”, and the team would be much better off in the future.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            The Oilers today could never get Fowler for Gagne and 95%-100% of g.m’s would agree. But if shopped ahead of time maybee it would have been possible.

            ~how on earth could the oilers have traded Simon Gagne for Fowler?~

            and this “eye for talent” stuff. You, by chance, a pro scout? coach at the pro level? played pro?

            I am just curious. Obviously, if you have some credentials that make you actually someone with an eye for pro talent, then good on you. However, if you are johnny beerleaguer who quit when he was stuck playing Midget ‘D’ house league, but thinks he has the pro game figured out, even though he has never set foot anywhere near the pro game… i would giggle at that..

          • Your team would not have Seguin. It doesnt play like that. If we’re going by those rules then my team chose Parise instread of Pouliot, and we drafted Doan when we had the chance too.

            You call out Gagner’s defensive play but by all accounts that’s the area that he’s been getting better in each and every year. So where is the phantom terrible play in the d-zone? Nowhere, you’re just making it up.

            Did you just count Schenn as one of the big Centres in the West that Sam Gagner cant match up against? He’s played 8 games. Yet again, you’re getting well ahead of yourself.

            Poor play. There’s also absolutely no guarantee the Oilers get a shot at the top 3 picks, let alone Couturier. We want it to happen, but the Oil are 2 wins away from 4th spot and drafting in the 2nd tier of prospects. So your team has Cam Fowler and Cogliano Centering the 2nd line with no help on the Horizon. Wicked team you’re building there.

          • C-DOG

            Yes, I am looking into the future on some but you omit the others, and by D.Staples #’s(his biggest fan) he has regressed defensively this year and thats playing with Hemsky and Penner, and his faceoffs are worse and he’s taking most of them in the right hand circle, Penner is taking the ones in the left circle, stop making things up about his “D” play. He would be much better off on the wing were he doesn’t have to focus as much on his d game.

            You accuse me of saying they will get a top pick, but you come along and say they might get a second tier prospect. They have been injury free for the most part, just wait until that kicks in. The only way they move up is with the youth and you know I wouldn’t of had them all here. Don’t count out Hall as a centre yet.

            I think you might be the only person who wanted Seguin and beleives in Gagner as a centre for this team, or at least in the super minority.

            Do you at least agree if they drafted a centre last year that moving Gagner for a d-man would of been the right move.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            So many weak assumptions.

            And what if we draft 4, 5 or 6 this year and even if we pull a center it’s no longer a sure thing (or close like a top 1-2 pick is).

            Fowler was also projected to go top 5ish, so I doubt the team would have been negotiating Gagner to the Ducks under the assumption they’d grab Fowler at 12… And I doubt a trade of that magnitude would go down in the 15 min or so that they’d have to negotiate.

            “The Oilers today could never get Fowler for Gagne and 95%-100% of g.m’s would agree. But if shopped ahead of time maybee it would have been possible”

            As usual you are guessing… but pretending it’s fact.

            Anyways, I’m pretty sure everyone knows where you stand, you don’t like Gagner and you think the NHL best center wins.

            Time to pick another topic.

          • C-DOG

            Of course Anaheim didn’t know Fowler would drop to them, that is why before the draft( being proactive) I said( Not in hindsight )trade him for the highest possible draft pick and take the bpa or bda, and they would of had a great selection of d-men avail.

            Please tell me you wouldn’t take Fowler over Gagner, then I would know that I am talking to a wall, so I can disregard you as a knowledgeable fan, and never waste my time.

            And at 4-5-6 we would still get a better PLAYER than Gagner that can actually play the position of a centremen.

            Heck if the Oilers could trade Eberle for Larsson and then move Gagner to Eberles spot , I would be all for it as long as Larsson is still highly regarded as a top prospect, this has nothing to do with me not likeing him, it’s about his position.

          • C-DOG

            Nice to see your not full of venom and can actually be rational despite all the haters.

            Menacer is another example of blind hate , and overating your own prospects.

            What do they expect to give up, to get a Larsson, Cog’s?

          • Dyckster

            As long as the Oilers keep giving up their pride, I don’t think they’ll have to give up much to get Larsson at all

            unless of course, you’re talking about Larsson after drafting Couturier, which if by last years example of Tambellini trying to get Hall and Seguin (allegedly), is extremely unlikely

          • C-DOG

            I want Couturier, Larsson was an example of trading from strength in another topic, I know it’s highly unlikely, but some people think Eberle is way more Valuable than a 2nd overall pick, and actually thought it was laughable to even suggest such a thing, that’s all.

          • Dyckster

            But in this case some might argue our 22nd overall pick (Eberle) is performing like a second overall. Current actual performance > projected performance. See A. Daigle (spelling?)

          • “blind hate”…really?

            I’m not suggesting that we need to draft a Larsson – that was you that suggested that. There have been plenty of other comments on here suggesting that trade or free agency are other possible ways of aquiring d-men.

          • C-DOG

            So if the Oilers draft unproven Couturier, they should trade him for a second line player that is established say Ray Whitney,~~~~ great Thinking~~~ why the hell didn’t they trade Hall for Hagmen~~~~~~~~. ~ Those stupid unproven draft picks I tell you~, I guess Eberle and his whopping 22 games are a lifetime.

          • Dyckster

            Why the attack on Menacer’s opinion? You’re doing exactly what you’re asking other people not to. Bludgeon someone for stating what they think.

            On another note, you would seriously trade Eberle for an opportunity to draft Couturier? I’d take Eberle’s 22 games this season, plus his AHL and World Championship success over a highly touted draft pick any day.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Ya it’s always a tough call trading a (even if it’s only somewhat) known for an unknown. i’m hesitant moving even average hockey players for late 1st/2nd rounders etc… and we’d certainly set the team back if Eberle went on to be a solid 70+ point guy and Larson Bust.

            Going on history and where I porject them, I’d take the risk… that’s just me though.

          • bhlazo

            “Heck if the Oilers could trade Eberle for Larsson and then move Gagner to Eberles spot , I would be all for it as long as Larsson is still highly regarded as a top prospect, this has nothing to do with me not likeing him, it’s about his position.”

            Why hasn’t Katz gotten in touch with you? I’m sure you’d build a contender in no time at all. We’ll trade one of our most talented youngsters for a d-man who hasn’t played a game in the bigs but who is supposed to be the next big thing. Brilliant

            While we’re at it, I got 5 numbers in the lotto max this week, how about you give me the numbers that you’re sure of next week and i’ll give you my ticket with 5 numbers….

          • C-DOG

            The point was to show I don’t hate Gagner, but for you to understand that might be challenging, and if the man that actualy drafted Eberle 22nd thinks the guy at # 2 is a better fit, I would trust him. That is why you have scouts, UFA’s aren’t lining up to come here so the only way is to draft/trade, last time I checked draft picks don’t come with expierence, what do you think Cog’s is going get us a #1 d-man.

            Sooner or later you need to give something to get something, or maybee you don’t get that concept.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Considering you are trotting out guys with 0 NHL games as players that Gagner can’t match up with, I think it is I, that is talking to a wall.

            Anyways, I think you should look up the success ratio of 4/5/6 etc picks before you keep throwing out your baseless claims.

          • C-DOG

            I am looking right about Couture,Fowler Brassard, Smid ,Whitney,Gilbert,Grebeshkov,Cog’ Vishnovsky and many others, just because you don’t have the eye for talent like myself, it doesn’t mean it’s fabricated. Do you honestly think the Oilers could get any one of those centres for Gag’s, come on, let me guess your answer, your guessing Shadi, because you don’t have the balls to say which one of those centres the Oilers could get for him. Deep down inside you know they couldn’t get 1 of them 1 for 1.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I always enjoy when you get everything all wound together and mixed up.

            First we’re trading Gagner a draft pick that will become Fowler, now you’re asking which center we could trade him for? … And for some strange reason you listed a bunch of random players, telling me you are “right” about them….

            I’m all for shifting assets from up front to defense (and goaltending). I’ve been saying that since we added MSP to a nice stable of prospects/young roster players up front.

            However if it were up to me, I’d be pulling from were we actually have some depth… on the wing and trying to use that to up grade the D… Not from our thin center position.

          • C-DOG

            Sorry you see him as a “c” I don’t and which winger is going to get a top prospect that the org is willing to part with .

            You know what I meant, which team would rather have Gagner instead of their guy, it’s not an actual trade senario.

            I would bet 18-0

          • C-DOG

            Please keep it coming…lol, you’re cracking me up…ha, ha, ha.

            You have the eye for talent? Ohhhh man, you’re a ham…lol

            Not difficult to pick top 10 picks as guys who may have some talent. Nice work Einstein.

            Not sure what you’re basing Couture as being so much better than Gagner…Gagner has so far had the better career and this year Couture and Gagner have basically the same stats…Couture is playing on a team with more weapons at the moment.

            Brassard will probably be a fine player too….now there’s going out on a limb, you’re a freakin genius Shadi…oh how I wish everyone had your knowledge.

            Brassard has also not had as good of a career so far as Gagner and he’s one year older….

            So just what is it you think you’re right about? Keep it coming, you’re a hoot, man. You’re at your best when you’re telling everyone how brilliant you are….I love that, lol.

          • C-DOG

            How many games played would gagner have if he was drafted by S.J. ah ah ah ah ah exactly, sooner or later your will have to look at improvement and not count seasons were others were developing slowly in the A or CHL.

            Imagine how stupid people feel now when they remember saying Thornton was a bust and samsanov was better and had outscored him early on.

            There is this thing called projecting talent, sorry I don’t look at a calculater all the time like you guys.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Now that DSF, would be some fine planning.

            For the sake of time, lets just assume the top 60 scoring centers make up the “top 6” universe.

            In two years Pitlick will 21 which coincidently should be around the time this team should be getting serious about competing…great time to have a rookie C in your top 6.

            So last year, of the top 60 scoring C’s their were… count’em… 5 centers 21 or younger top 60 in scoring for centers.

            Stamkos(1st overall) Toews(3rd overall) Duchene (3rd overall) Tavares (1st overall) Gagner (6th overall) Sutter (12th overall)

            Sold plan, penciling in your 2nd rounder into your top 6 center spot by 21.

          • The biggest problem with the “run Gagner out of town” posse is that they fast forward to a mythical future where every prospect pans out, and not just pans out, but excels in every possible way.

            It’s funny though, in 2 years they figure Pitlick will be able to do a job that Gagner’s been doing since he was 18, but they dont give any credit to Gagner for doing it faster and better than the new kid in town they hope will knock Gagner down the depth chart.

            I’m all for an Oiler team where Gagner is the 4th best centre. That sounds like a deep team at C. It just isnt here yet, and wont be here in the near future unless something changes.

          • C-DOG

            Early this year you were shocked at the example of, Couture being better than Gagner, even if Gagner had outscored him, I gave you an example of Eberle being better than Filitov, even though Filitov had outscored Eberle in the N.H.L.

            The point was to prove it didn’t matter how many points 1 player had because he was in a different situation, and his team gave him an opertunity that the other wasn’t afforded.

            I don’t think you have anything bad to say about Couture now, imagine if he was playing 1st line minutes here with Hemsky and Penner, he’s already better than Gag’s defensively and on faceoffs.

            Sooner or later this “he has the second most points from his draft class excuse will run out.

          • Scuba Steve

            Do you understand the idea of teams? Couture plays on a team that includes Thornton and Pavelski, he plays no tough minutes against team’s top players. Of course he looks better in the D zone, he plays against other team’s 4th lines.

            We get it that you don’t like Gagner, but at least try to back up you claim with facts.

          • C-DOG

            Yes , your right, Couture plays 16 min/game against Stortini, and who cares if Doug wilson said he’s the best 3 zone rookie in the league, and gagner would rather play with Brule/Jones instead of Hemsky, Penner, and Cog’s wants to play with Stortini and Moreou instead of Penner & brule, Paajarvi wants to play with Jones,Fraser instead of Horc/Eberle, you are so intelligent I don’t know what I was thinking, thanks for the heads up. Ya S.J tries to hide him who cares if their coach says were comfortable playing him in any situation, thanks for all your FACTS!!! , Check is in the mail with a free set of scuba gear.

          • Scuba Steve

            Really? HIS COACH thinks he`s a good player? Wow, that means he must be great. ~I know Renney says Gagner sucks all the time. So he must be terrible, right?~

            I really don’t understand the rest of the post, so I can’t refute it. Well played, I guess.

          • C-DOG

            Or, perhaps it won’t…

            Possibly sooner or later Gagner will prove you wrong….actually so far, he is.

            Your fabrications are quite hilarious though, so keep them coming, you’re more entertaining than you are knowledgeable.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Exactly. The new guy is always the next great thing. You’d think we’d have learned by now that you don’t run what we have out of town until you know for that we’ve got some as good or better to replace them with.

          • You mean the Winger Tyler Pitlick who is playing in Medicine Hat? Yeah. He’s definitely learning how to be an NHL Centre as we speak by playing the wing against 17 year olds, isnt he?

            Good luck with that. Maybe Marincin will be the Oilers next #1 goalie.

          • C-DOG

            The average age is closer to 19, and Pitlick 6’2″ has played his whole life at centre, he’s been a winger for 2 months now, plus there is Martindale 6’3″. As long as Stu is around I wouldn’t be worried about replaceing Gagner if I was you. This team will be in the lottery again next year as long as Tambi is running the show, so don’t worry, lots of great young prospects to be had.

            Pitlick and Martindale for sure will be in the AHL and the Oilers can play them were ever they see fit, oops! that might actually help your point.

        • John Chambers


          I’d be all for trying to move a guy like Gagner for a talented young defenseman under two conditions:

          1) We were able to obtain another young C like Joe Colborne or Brayden Schenn as part of that or another trade. (eg. Penner + Gagner for Schenn, and Voynov (D))

          2) We aimed to draft one of the two highly ranked available centres in the upcoming draft.

    • Crash

      Seriously? How’s Staios making out with Calgary? Many nights he’s a healthy scratch on the team just ahead of us in the standings…

      Staios is just another Strudwick…

      No thanks

          • My point is that although he is a cap hit that is more than one would like (which doesn’t matter because the squad isn’t in a cap crunch this year) he would be a viable option on the current D-squad compared to some of the clowns we have out there.

            It really doesn’t matter as the team has obviously chosen to ignore holes in the lineup to get another high draft pick but they can’t realistically have thought that a D squad with Vandermeer and Strudwick would be even half decent.

          • Before the season started, I don’t know if anyone thought Vandermeer would be as bad as he has been this season.

            The general opinion seemed to be that he was overpaid, but could do the job and bring a physical element. So far he has live up to being overpaid, but has brought little else to the table.

            He has been brutal this year, but I think he was a reasonable gamble to take in that we got to trade out POS for him. He hasn’t worked out, but so what? We cut him loose at the end of the year and move on. If he had at least been physical, no one would be complaining about him.

  • Jmask5

    I agree. Drafting D-men is a bit of a crap-shoot. Its like drafting a pitcher in baseball. You never know exactly what your getting until much further along in their career. Now mind you there are the exceptions like Pronger, Doughty, Niedermeyer. But then there are Hamrlik, Philips, Berard. I think its a combination of drafting, UFA signings and a good trade or two.

  • Bucknuck

    The Oil have been thin on Defense since Pronger, Bergeron and Spacek left in ’06.

    I still remember watching with horror in 2007 as they called up poor Bissaillon (sp?) from Juniors to play a game since there was no one left in the AHL that they could call. He wasn’t all that bad in his debut, but it was a startling revelation as to just how thin the Oil were on D.

    The Oil are thin again this year, but I am glad to see there are some folks to call up in a crisis who might be ok, unlike last year (Taylor Chorney anyone). It has gotten a little better.

    I think one of our young forwards is on the way out and I would be surprised if we didn’t pick up a defensemen on the way back. It remains to be see who is out, as in order to get something good, you need to give up something in return.

  • SumOil

    the thing is that you dont generally get top 2 D-men on the FA very often either. Mostly what we get are bottom 4 D-men. Top 2 dmen can almost only be acquired via trade or draft.
    That said ST has just decimated our D. I think if we had last season’s D with this coach, we might have had different results

    • Horcsky

      Whoops. One word post. Yay for edit button.

      What I meant to say was true, the Oil were lucky to fetch a Souray on the market (at the time anyways).

      JW, when you say Tambo has done a great job tearing down the previous D corps, it makes the tapioca rise in my gullet.

  • SumOil

    For real yo. We are obviously going to augment this group via free agency at some point (or multiple points) over the next couple of years. I wouldn’t add 2 major UFA’s in the same year. We obviously have to let Vandermeer and Strudwick go, and its starting to look like Foster was a misstep as well. However, that is the exact type of signing we need to continue to look for. Cheap, shorter term, potential bargain. We should always be in the conversation when solid D-men with potential are being scooped up at the lower price range.

    If we really believe that the compete window has opened by the offseason I would look for 1 major signing as well. A real stud for our top D. I don’t know if that is the case, though. We might be better off settling for a middling UFA and adding a couple rookies to the mix next year for one final “development/high draft” season.