Please Pardon Me

The Oilers blue is blue. Real Blue. Boasting just two established defenseman who are capable of playing all three disciplines (EV, PP, PK), some young emerging talent and several questions marks. Blue. Real blue.

In the second of my "reasonable" series we look at defense. I would like to start by saying that everyone associated with the NHL–fan, media, onlooker, NHL employee, vendor at the game, players, coaches, anthem singers, NHLPA, photographers, trainer, zamboni driver, guys who paint the lines, cheerleaders, ice scrapers, security, time keeper, on and off ice officials, homeless guy by the LRT exit, ticket takers, program salesperson, cleaning staff, seamstress–everyone knows the Oilers have some worries on the blueline. So what I’m about to predict isn’t exactly rocket surgery.

If Ladislav Smid can be effective at evens (again) and help on the PK; if Cam Barker can establish himself as a useful even strength player while also helping the PP; if Peckham can take a step forward, if Sutton can PK like a madman and if Jeff Petry looks as good as he did last year in the NHL, then the Oilers will answer a lot of questions about their blue in the next 8 months.That’s a lot of uncertainty.

REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

  • Top Pairing: Ryan Whitney (50gp, 4-24-28); Cam Barker (66gp, 7-16-23). I think the Oilers have to give Barker a clear shot at success and pairing him with Whitney would seem to be a natural fit. Barker has not proven to be an effective option against the NHL’s best forwards but Edmonton doesn’t have a lot of options. I’d suggest both will see significant time on the PP and PK. Whitney’s lower number (compared to last season) reflects his injury concerns and the fact that last season saw a lot going his way. These numbers correct for that and drives everything back to the median.
  • Second PairingTheo Peckham (70gp, 3-12-15); Tom Gilbert (82gp, 5-23-28). This pairing played together quite a bit and although I think Smid is still a better player than Peckham it’s probably time to see if Teddy Peckman can be Pat Quinn (the player). Gilbert is–and I know many at ON will disagree–a solid NHL defenseman who can play in all situations. Whatever his limitations, Tom Gilbert is ahead of the men not named Whitney on the Oilers depth chart and it isn’t close. This tandem may end up being the de facto top pairing should Whitney’s injuries become a long term issue. Should that occur, Smid might move up the depth chart.
  • Third Pairing: Ladislav Smid (70gp, 1-7-8); Jeff Petry (50gp, 2-10-12). Smid has played well for two seasons in a row and could form an effective tandem with the organization’s most talented young D prospect in Petry. Although Petry is likely to start the season in the minors (Whitney’s injury may change all of that) there’s little doubt he’ll have an impact on the Oilers season.
  • ExtrasAndy Sutton (44gp, 0-3-3); Taylor Chorney (38gp, 1-5-6); Corey Potter (25gp, 0-5-5). Sutton played depth minutes at even strength and big PK minutes last season and that’s the role I think he’ll play this year in Edmonton. Sutton’s presence is an advantage in that he’s a veteran and can move up the depth chart and has the experience to hold his own. Chorney probably gets the job as 7D out of camp due to the waiver worry and hangs around all year, but it looks like he’s a tweener. Corey Potter is a very interesting player and could be the surprise of the group. Good size, a nice range of skills and coach Renney is familiar with his ability. There’s a chance he makes the grade.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

It means the Oilers are not on solid ground defensively. During portions of the game where Whitney and Gilbert are not on the ice, those uneasy feelings Oiler fans have endured since 2006 spring will return. I suggest a beer fridge nearby and keeping tabs on prospects like Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil and others.

Peckham and Petry have joined Gilbert and Smid, and if Whitney can stay healthy then this team might make a run at a playoff spot if Dubnyk can play 70 games while staying effective. Cam Barker is a risk for what he’ll be asked to do, and we’ll see about that.

    • D-Man

      286 lbs. with speed makes for one heavy hit . Force = Mass x Accleration . Is this where the NHL may be headed in the future ? You see the speed , height and agility of football linemen 300 lbs . plus , and you wonder about the severe injuries that may be coming into the NHL . Concussion city , or depression of mind and body like an accordion being driven into a concrete wall.

      • Mason Storm

        I don’t think 286lbs of Byfuglien equals speed. Maybe plodding would be a better word. What’s with Dustin’s and being notoriously out of shape? Besides Big Buff, you’ve got Penner and Nielson also.

  • Skidplate

    Why does every article about Chorney state that he will stay up in the NHL because of a waiver worry?

    If he was put on waivers, would any other team seriously consider taking him? And if he was taken off waivers, would that really be any loss for the Oilers? I think the answer to both questions is no. Chorney is a poor man’s Marc-Andre Bergeron, and even in his prime I would have waived Marc-Andre Bergeron and not given it a second thought.

    • Lowetide

      I think the Oilers organization has shown many times over the years that they will move heaven and earth to keep prospects from the waiver wire.

      Even guys like Jacques or JDD. Must have killed them to let Schremp go.

  • YFC Prez

    Im bothered when a player earns a roster spot due the to fear being picked up off waivers by another team. Im even more bothered when the player who loses a roster spot is a better option ie Petry sent down, which I imagine is very plausible. I really hope that it wasn’t the fear of waiving Chorney that played a part in Tambi not chasing a veteran quality D-man. It wouldn’t have taken much of signing to improve that lineup at D. I predict disaster on the backend, leading up to a trade at the deadline. Im sure we will see a quality forward gone ie Hemsky or Gagner for a D man.

      • YFC Prez

        “Well it’s a two-way street, though. Theo Peckham didn’t outplay Shawn Belle iirc a year ago but they kept him all the same.”

        point taken, and I remember being very upset about Peckham being given a roster spot at the time. Now not so much.

  • YFC Prez

    I also imagined Barker to be a 3rd line pairing with PP time ala Foster. Interesting trying him with Whitney. I was hoping Smid would get the shot at the big minutes.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Ok… what the heck does “iirc” actually mean in internet speak?

    And should I be upset that Lowetide knows these new fangled interweb speaks when im probably half his age and don’t?

  • YFC Prez

    “….it means the Oilers are not on solid ground defensively. During portions of the game where Whitney and Gilbert are not on the ice, those uneasy feelings Oiler fans have endured since 2006 spring will return.”

    Well, here I disagree. The math may suggest I should feel the contrary, but many a time I get those “uneasy” feelings is when 77 is the ice.

  • Eulers

    “those uneasy feelings Oiler fans have endured since 2006 spring will return. I suggest a beer fridge nearby”

    Now you understand why I chose an avatar of a flask with an Oilers logo.

    [weeps uncontrollably, sips his beer, weeps anew]

  • Little Buttcheeks

    We can’t afford to have as many injuries as we have in past seasons. Our starting D is OK, but once our depth gets tested it could be rough. Whitney’s health is a huge key because nobody is even near where he is at in our system right now.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Hi LT…(sorry..off topic)nice to think about that group(rufus)but I am positve that the original band was her, maybe a sister and her father playing guitar!..his name might be rufus actually…anyways ,I remember playing “you’ve got the love” and thinking, thats the funkiest thing since TOP..I love readind everyones posts about the oil..I am a huge fan and love when music,girls and hockey are presented..!

    • Lowetide

      I’m not sure, but you might be thinking of the Staples Singers (an out of this world gospel/soul band) which features Mavis Staples and her Dad (Papa Staples). But you could be right about Rufus too.

      I do know that Khan spent several years in the band Rufus while underage, which was an even bigger deal back then (bands, bar, alcohol).

      I loved Rufus. Great, great band. The album photo above Rufusized is a killer. An absolute killer.

  • Mason Storm

    I have one issue with this article. Smid hasn’t scored a goal in almost 1000* games. The only way to break a streak like that is to play against the Oilers. Ask Andy Sutton.

    *1000 is a slight exaggeration.

  • knee deep in it

    it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Chorney gets claimed. The only scenario that he is exposed is if he is outplayed in the pre-season.

    If he isn’t able to crack the 30th place teams’s roster as a 24 year old, then he probably isn’t a huge loss.

    The good thing is that it would help us out with the 50 contract limit.

  • D-Man

    I think many of us miss the fact about the Chorney/Petry debate that we know what we have with Chorney; we don’t with Petry. Petry still has a ton of upside, where as Chorney has reached arguably his full potential. If Petry doesn’t have a solid camp – is it worthwhile for his development to jump in and out of the lineup on the big club playing 10 to 12 minutes/game or play in the AHL, in all different type of situations, for 22 – 25?

    My thought is that if Petry shows that he’s ready to make the big club – he should be good enough to play top four minutes… I know – that throws him in the deep end a bit, but he’s too young to sit on the bench in a third pairing role.

    However we look at it – we’re not in playoff contention this year (barring some goaltending/defensive miracle)… Let’s focus on Petry’s future and have him develop on the farm (unless he’s proven he’s more than ready)…

  • D-Man

    It seems that some of the current blueliners are just placeholders until the Maricin’s, Musil’s and Klefbom’s of the system are ready to step up in another 2 – 3 years.

    Out of the current group, Whitney seems to be the only one with a shot at being a true #1 defenceman, but on most other teams, he would probably be a #2-#3 at this point. Smid is a decent third pairing defender although I think everyone hoped that he would develop as a top 4 player at some point.

    At present, I’m more worried about the guy in net stopping the pucks because a decent goalie can be a defenceman’s best friend until they gel as a group.