Calls had been coming from many corners for GM Steve Tambellini to bolster his blue line long before Taylor Fedun was carted off the ice at the Xcel Energy Center Friday, joining Ladislav Smid and Taylor Chorney as casualties in a 4-3 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild.
Might Tambellini, who until now has resisted repeated suggestions his Edmonton Oilers are woefully short of proven depth with the rearguards still in contention for roster spots, be prompted to listen now?
With Fedun’s right leg fractured in a race for the puck with Eric Nystrom in the second period against the Wild, Chorney lost with a bad knee and Smid gone with a shoulder injury, the Oilers played much of last night’s game in St. Paul with just three defensemen.
While Fedun’s long-term health after a terrible fracture is the most important issue here, the fact is that with Ryan Whitney already on the shelf recovering from ankle surgery, the Oilers today have just six healthy defensemen left on the roster as the face the Vancouver Canucks tonight.
As it stands now, pending Tambellini working the phones — be it in pursuit of a trade or free agent or putting a call into Oklahoma City for short-term reinforcements — the Oilers face the prospect of starting the season with Tom Gilbert, Cam Barker, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Andy Sutton and Corey Potter on the blue line.
See any problem with that?
Aside from the matter of having a promising pre-season showing by Fedun come to a crashing halt by a yet another needless injury on a meaningless icing play — we can only hope this isn’t a career-ending situation — what unfolded will certainly force Tambellini into finally making a move to bolster the back end, no?
Is it unreasonable to think any move would — and should — involve more than calling up a body or two from the AHL to fill in against Vancouver? Is Colten Teubert, just getting over a concussion after being sent down to the AHL to get back into game shape, the answer?
Assuming Whitney will be ready to play when the puck drops for keeps against Pittsburgh Oct. 9, and that’s far from guaranteed, how much ice time will he able to log early this season?
And if Whitney can’t carry his usual workload — it would be absolutely nuts to even ask him to — how much ice time can coach Tom Renney reasonably heap on Barker, Gilbert, Petry, Peckham, Sutton and Potter?
I’d suggest yet again that Tambellini take a look at some of the surplus talent he has up front, make a call on who he is willing to part with for a defenseman who can log top-four minutes, and get busy addressing a lack of depth that is painfully obvious.
I can only assume Tambellini will spend the next night or two tossing and turning over the predicament he finds himself in now because he’s failed to do so to this point. It might be an idea, if he is wide awake, to get busy on that phone.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.