Signing Andy Sutton

Ladislav Smid is one of the more valuable players on Edmonton’s blue line these days. It’s interesting to see how much coach Renney relies on him and the situations Smid gets the most work. It’s also interesting to see how much Andy Sutton plays during a game.

EVEN STRENGTH OILERS BLUE

The Oilers top pairing at evens this season is 5-77. Smid’s 17:04 at even strength is tied for 77th in the league, Gilbert is the leading Oiler in this category–59th in the NHL. This suggests that coach Renney likes to roll three pairings more often than some NHL coaches, or that he doesn’t have a dominant defenseman or pairing to run out there to play heavy minutes at even strength. In fact, the even strength time on ice is actually divided fairly democratically:

  1. Tom Gilbert 17:35
  2. Ladislav Smid 17:04
  3. Jeff Petry 16:41
  4. Cam Barker 16:34
  5. Corey Potter 16:21
  6. Ryan Whitney 15:41
  7. Andy Sutton 14:44
  8. Theo Peckham 13:48

We know that Ryan Whitney’s number would be greater if he were healthy, but it is interesting to see that in the wake of the Whitney injury Andy Sutton’s even strength time (14:44) is still bottom pairing–in fact, Jeff Petry and Corey Potter are top 4 defenders at even strength this season for Edmonton. What does this tell us?

If the Oilers plan to sign Andy Sutton AND add another veteran top 4 defender, the numbers don’t work. Too many defensemen, especially for the bottom pairing. If the Oilers plan on keeping Smid-Gilbert and Potter, plus the younger D in Peckham and Petry, then adding Sutton means someone is a #7 unless they believe Ryan Whitney will not return. What do I suspect? Tell you in a minute.

On the PP, coach Renney once again has been forced to ad lib without Whitney, but Corey Potter comes to the rescue.

  1. Corey Potter 3:14
  2. Cam Barker 3:06
  3. Tom Gilbert 2:27
  4. Ryan Whitney 2:23

Jeff Petry ranks well behind in 5th but I think his time on ice 5×4 may increase as the season rolls along. Barker was hired to help the PP but his injury meant that he was not a factor in the season’s first half. When he returns, I imagine his PP job will be waiting for him.

Heading into this evening’s game, Ladislav Smid was averagine 3:44 on the penalty-kill. That total ranks him 7th in the entire NHL for time-on-ice shorthanded, and his partner Tom Gilbert isn’t far behind (tied for 10th with Eric Brewer. Here are the shorthanded totals:

  1. Ladislav Smid 3:44
  2. Tom Gilbert 3:38
  3. Theo Peckham 2:47
  4. Jeff Petry 2:08
  5. Andy Sutton 2:06

As with his even strength minutes, Sutton contributes on a per-game basis but does not appear to be a "go-to" option and you’d have a difficult time proving Sutton is a vital part of the special teams based on his shorthanded play.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Ryan Whitney injury left a void in all three disciplines. Coach Renney has chosen to use Corey Potter, Jeff Petry and (on the PK) Theo Peckham more than Andy Sutton. Some of this may have to do with majors in-game, injuries and suspension, but it would seem reasonable to suggest that if the Oilers are going to sign Andy Sutton for another season  (or two, Steve Tambellini likes giving long contracts to old guys) then it’ll be in a depth role similar to the one filled by Jason Strudwick in the past.

WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?

I think we’re headed for a 3-for-1 trade similar to the Pronger deal although unlikely on that scale. Edmonton is going to have a lot of defensemen signed for 2012-13 if they choose to sign Sutton. I count Whitney, Smid, Gilbert, Potter with Peckham and Petry rfa’s. That’s 6, add Sutton and there’s a full deck.

The Oilers have some new pro’s coming in plus a guy like Tulupov who might get a pro contract. It seems reasonable to suggest that a deal is available that might send a defenseman and a pick or prospect away for a better option.

  • RexLibris

    I mentioned here on ON a few articles back about the possibility of moving someone like Peckham at the deadline rather than Sutton, or the idea of re-singing Sutton come July 1 but moving Peckham at the draft. From where I sit (stand, actually) the Oilers have a lot of depth in defense, just not the kind that you can plug in as a cornerstone defenseman. But to be fair, there aren’t a lot of those guys around. Vancouver could be said to have one in Bieksa, but would anyone label Bouwmeester as a cornerstone d-man anymore? What about Bogosian and Enstrom in Winnipeg? Toronto has Phaneuf, but aside from the recoring Mark Staal who do the Rangers have? Dan Girardi is good, but is he in the same category as Weber or Lidstrom, the names that many Oiler fans keep mentioning here.

    As much as I dislike the Canucks, I do like one aspect of their team makeup, they have a great collection of upper-mid-range defenceman that can plug in to almost any position in a 6-man rotation and play very well. My guess is that this is where the Oilers will be once players like Musil, Klefbom, Marincin, Gernat, Plante, Simpson, Teubert and Petry work themselves either into or out of the NHL. I have said several times that I would focus my attention at this point on our forward depth. There are more bodies needed to fill out that part of the lineup and while we have some stellar talents there now (or at least in the sick bay) I worry that we won’t have enough to avoid them being shut down in a long playoff run.

    I actually do have a relevant point in all of this: bringing in Sutton as a depth defenceman that you can expect to sit out a few games with either an injury or a suspension doesn’t seem like such bad planning. In what I have seen from Sutton, he is displaying better offensive timing and movement than I was initially given to expect. While I don’t like giving up on young prospects, my belief is that Peckham’s abilities aren’t going to improve so dramatically that his being traded at this time would be a very regrettable move. I believe his skills are duplicated elsewhere and that I would rather, at this point, give his ice-time to either Plante or Teubert next season.

    Perhaps a trade involving Omark, Plante and Peckham to a team in desperate need of depth would work. I have no idea what that might return and whether it would be of any use to the Oilers, but those are the kinds of multi-player deals I would half-expect to see this off-season.

  • Oilers looking at dealing Hemsky and defenceman(my guess is minor leaguer) to the Red wings for Brennan Smith and 1st round pick? That can’t be right? Anyone else hear the same thing? Pierre Lebrun not sure how much I trust his rumours had something similar yesterday.

    • Chris.

      Naw. Can’t be right. Brennan Smith is a hypnotherapist based in Los Angeles who has an 87% success rate helping people quit smoking (while in his office) 😉

      Seriously though, I’m not overly excited about the possibility of aquiring Brendan Smith either. Sounds like Detroit wants a prospect upgrade to supplement a Hemsky-for-a-late-first-round-pick-type deal. Not a great sign.