Tangled Up In Blue

The Oilers defense performed well enough last night to secure an OT win in G1 of the 11-12 season. Plenty of chaos and things to work on, but overall the 6 showed grit, shot blocking ability, strength along the boards and did a good job of staying in lanes. Down in OKC, there was a lot of blood on the tracks. Opening night for the Oilers at the pro level exposed a distinct lack of depth along the blue. Who knew? Everyone.


Jeff Petry had a solid game last night in Edmonton, but he was badly missed by the Barons. In losing 7-0 in their opening night, OKC ran the following tandems most of the night:

  • Bryan Helmer-Ryan Lowery
  • Alex Plante-Colten Teubert
  • Johan Motin-Kirill Tulupov

Helmer/Lowery finished the night -2, Plante/Teubert -1 and Motin/Tulupov even. Plante had 7 pims and it looks like much of the night was spent penalty killing for the Barons.

There’s very little experience on the Barons defense currently, and the experience that is there is somewhat aged. Here’s a breakdown of last night’s defense by age and pro experience:

  • Helmer: 39 years old; 146 NHL games; 1024 AHL games
  • Plante: 22 years old; 7 NHL games; 122 AHL games.
  • Motin: 21 year old; 1 NHL game; 89 AHL games; 14 ECHL games.
  • Teubert: 21 years old; 0 NHL games- 59 AHL games; 18 ECHL games.
  • Lowery: 23 years old; last night was his pro debut after 4 NCAA seasons.
  • Tulupov: 23 years old; last night was his NA pro debut.

There’s no one in the heart of their career, no Corey Potter or Jeff Woywitka. The Oilers have to address defense soon, which could mean sending Potter down or risking waivers on Chorney. Or it could mean a minor league trade.

The Oilers are trying to develop Colten Teubert, Alex Plante and others while also developing a plethora of young forwards in OKC. The blueline and improved performance in OKC have been issues for some time: both Robin Brownlee and Jonathan Willis have written on it at ON and Bob Stauffer recently tweeted the following:

  • The Oilers are a bit thin at both NHL and AHL levels. Moving an AHL depth forward for an AHL D may be doable.

After last night, I think the Oilers might want to upgrade "doable" to "imminent." A quality pro defender capable of helping this team–in exchange for a forward–seems a likely transaction for the Barons this week.

    • misfit

      Really? Cant understand why you’d say that. I thought he played a decent game last night to be honest. He was the only D-man skating it up out of the zone and made some crisp passes up the the forwards. Its not his fault Horcoff cant catch a tape to tape pass.

        • lol… nice one and just to add to that if you didn’t watch the game don’t post comments about it. It’s pretty asinine.

          Barker played fairly well last night. I thought Petry looked more uneven and of course Peckham got beat a few times due to poor agility. Barker wasn’t bad and took the body a little bit as well. I know it’s just one game but Sutton looks better than Foster just based upon his style, which is in the vein of the Hal Gill/Zdeno Chara style. Stay close to the net and use your size and reach. Not saying he’s in their class but his skill set is useful and the Oilers have decent mobility with the rest of their defence as Petry, Gilbert, Smid, and Barker all skate quite well.

        • French Toast Mafia

          My bad, I did drink heavliy last night some crap that tasted alot like paint thinner. I retract my dumb statement. Next time I’ll try to understand before I post. Having said that I still think Barker had a good game

    • French Toast Mafia

      I was at the game last night and other then a bad give away in the 3rd barker looked good. He has a rocket shot and has a lot quicker feet then I thought. I think he will do just fine he looked better then most last night.

      As for trading for a dman. I’m not sure why it seems like a simple fix to get a top 4 dman. Every year at the deadline teams that are making a run at the cup try and trade for Dman not trade them away. Teams need as much depth on the blueline as they can get so im a little confused as to why people are thinking a team would jump all over trading one of their top guys to us.

      • 50 in 39

        This is exactly what I have been thinking. The majority of NHL teams would like to improve their depth at defence and don’t have a full legitimate top 4 defence. The teams that do have depth and think they could be a contender (which is alot of teams right now) don’t want to trade away depth with the uncertainty of injuries and a long season ahead. It seems for the type of player we would need the price would be sky high.

  • Eric Rodgers (@AHLBarons) yesterday on Plante:

    “Plante continuing to be Plante. Nearly had a giveaway while playing with the puck in front of the net.”

    and later..

    “There’s an orange cone wearing a 34 OKC Barons jersey right now. Playing like crap”

    And yeah, 34 would be Plante.

    • Lowetide

      The year Plante was drafted I asked a guy who scouted the WHL about him and the issues mentioned by the scout are still issues today. I think the Teubert acquisition spelled the end for Plante with the Oilers (although we’ll see).

  • unca miltie


    I guess my point is – why do the Oilers need to wait? If they know what they need, why not find that dance partner ASAP?

    If they feel Hemsky is the guy they need to trade (***I sure hope not) then why not be aggressive in trying to move him for the top pairing Dman.

    It seems like they would be hurting the development of guys like Teubert or Plante if they are forcing them to play roles that they are not ready for. Not to mention the young guys up with the big club.

    ***as for moving Hemsky, I think that is a big mistake. Just watching the game last night, he is still way ahead of the young kids in his ability to control a shift. The puck seems to follow him and most offensive chances are created by him. I am afraid we will be talking about how they need a veteran offensive player to carry/protect the young guys if they move Hemsky.

    • D-Man

      The problem with finding that dance partner is the fact that we’ll need to dangle someone up front… If we’re vying for a legitimate #1 or #2 d-man – no one is going to be interested until we have Hemsky or Gagner on the trading block. I agree – I don’t want to move neither but considering the fact that Hall/Eberle/MPS/RNH are untouchable – there isn’t much more that Hemmer or Gagner to offer. Even then, I think you’d have to throw a first rounder with Gagner and a 2nd rounder with Hemsky before any team would begin to listen to offers…

      The Oilers won’t be waiting by choice. I think they won’t have enough bullets in the gun to make a legitimate offer…

      • French Toast Mafia

        Ya hemsky definately looked good last night. I’m not his biggest fan but he had a great game last night. Still always finds ways to get rocked though so hopefully he can hold up.

        • D-Man

          With the emergence of Hall, Ebs and (hopefully) RNH, I don’t think Hemmer will be as punished as often as we’re accustom to seeing… Teams will have to respect Hall, Eberle and others that there won’t be as much focus on Hemmer… We also have some better deterrents in Hordichuck and Eager – players who can skate and hit the opposing teams superstars… I recall watching Eager laying out one of the Sedin sisters last year – I’m guessing some teams might think twice before attempting to lay out Hemmer or Hall or RNH.

          • French Toast Mafia

            I think our young offensive players are definately going to get a lot more attention from top D pairings etc… The problem with hemsky is he leaves himself open to get rocked a lot even of nobody is gunning for him so I think having more skilled players around might not help him too much. Either way I thought he had a great game. I’m usually pulling my hair out with his good old blueline turnovers. Hope he can stay healthy but I’m just waitin for him to get popped and there goes the shoulder

    • Lowetide

      Totally agree that moving Hemsky is a big mistake. As for getting a defenseman right now, I agree with that too but would allow for the possibility that the asking price is enormous.

      Burke has an extra d, but as the season wears on that player’s value will increase. I’m sure the GM has made calls and imo there’s something to the Leafs chatter w/EDM.

  • unca miltie

    Thew thing that sticks out for me with Chorney is that he won the fastest skater thing last year with the Oil. Is there a player there some where??

    Don’t think anyone will pick him up. He is off to Okla1homa.

  • Lowetide

    Injuries do happen to everyone, but I’m sure the Oilers were thinking at least one, maybe two, of Potter, Chorney and Fedun would be available for the AHL.

    I wonder if they’d have kept Marincin around for a bit if they knew a couple injuries would be coming? What was the timing there, did they send Marincin down before the game where Fedun, Chorney, and Smid were injured?

  • Lowetide

    To look at a score and outright assume its the D is ludicrous! How many soft goals? How many outnumbered rushes, how many times did the forwards not pick up their man or picked up the wrong man? That’s a young forward group there as well.