Rock Steady

The Edmonton Oilers added a solid, veteran NHL defenseman today at the annual deadline. Nick Schultz has been old reliable on the Minnesota blue since the lockout and he’s bringing his consistent brand of defense to Alberta’s capital.

Nick Schultz is a veteran defenseman, an "actual" NHL player and anyone who follows the Oilers should be thrilled the club was able to add such a dependable hand. The problem? It cost them dearly, as Tom Gilbert is heading the other way in the NHL’s biggest "real" deadline deal today.

Schultz offers the Oilers another throwback type: effecitve defender, read and react type, a very good shotblocker. He is moble and can play at evens and on the penalty kill. He does not offer a lot of puck moving ability compared to Gilbert and that appears to be the difference in the trade.


Why would the Oilers trade a complete defender like Tom Gilbert for a stay-at-home type like Schultz? There are only a few possible answers, involving things that we can’t really speculate about with any authority. Did Gilbert ask for a trade? I doubt it. What about the Oilers? Were they concerned that Gilbert’s long term health was an issue? No idea.

Having said that, the reasons behind the trade are not available to me from the Oilers perspective. The math suggests that Gilbert was Schultz’ equal defensively and has substantial offense to spare.

In terms of use, Gilbert was useful in all three aspects of the game and Schultz only two:

  • Gilbert: 17:25EV; 3:16SH; 2:05PP
  • Schultz 16:44EV; 2:23SH; 0:28PP

The Oilers will miss Gilbert’s ability to move the puck and his defensive acumen. In Schultz, it looks like the defensive side of the game is covered, but the offense is gone. It’s a strange deal based on the numbers


This trade tells you one thing for sure: the Edmonton Oilers believe Jeff Petry has arrived and he’s going to play busy minutes from now on. I also suspect they believe Ryan Whitney can and will return to good health by the fall, leaving the top 4 defensemen as Whitney, Schultz, Laddy Smid and Petry.

I don’t think it’s enough. Even with Sutton, Potter, Peckham and a cast of thousands on the way this doesn’t look like enough, meaning we should expect a very active summertime for Edmonton. The draft will probably be defense heavy and the free agent/trade news from Oilers HQ will/should also be heavy on the color blue.


  • Offensive Zone Start: 41.0 third toughest among Minnesota regulars over 35GP, although he faced the toughest among those who have played over 40 games
  • CorsiRel: -8.7, worst on the team among regulars over 35GP
  • Qual Comp: 5th toughest, although the 3-5 D appear quite close


  • Offensive Zone Start: 50.5,fourth toughest among Edmonton regulars over 35GP
  • CorsiRel: 2.6 third best on the team among regulars over 35GP
  • Qual Comp: 3rd toughest

Basically, it means they face about the same quality of competition, but Schultz’ zone start is more punishing and Gilbert’s CorsiRel is much better. I don’t think there’s a huge gap defensively, and will leave it to others to hairsplit the value of the offense.


In about one half hour from now, Steve Tambellini will address the media. I would expect him to talk about adding grit, toughness, and defensive acumen. I would also expect him to tell us Jeff Petry’s development was instrumental in making this trade possible.

The question then becomes how much does this improve the Oilers defensively? And secondly, is this improvement measurable or does it exist at all? The best measurements we have available to us at this time suggest Gilbert is even or slightly ahead of Schultz defensively and clearly superior offensively.

The trade looks like a loss from here, but Nick Schultz is a fine NHL defenseman.

  • MistaWes

    We havent even seen him play yet with us and ppl are already convinced he is a garunteed 5/6/7 D man Look at his career +/- compared to gilberts its way better. It seems that the man knows how to play some defence and thats what we need. he seems like someone that knows how to protect a **LEAD**. Gilbert Taking his big offense of 3 goals down the Rd wont be missed and will be replaced at the draft and greatly improved July 1st which has been everyones goal on here from the start…more or less


    WOW I am a Oil fan through & through. Come on you HOMMERS. Give away gilbert was not a solid D man. Yes maybe a good first passer but thats it. He was always good for a pylon impersonation every game & a give away or two to boot. He started to ” lean ” on guys this year but I would not call it hitting. As for a offensive D man????? Maybe in 2006. His points the last few years are not at all great.

    Shultz is a put your hard hat on and get to work D man. Good on the PK and can be a good mentor on how to work hard and take care of your own zone. People that think we lost or think this was a even trade are crazzy. You wait this was a great move. Shultz will be great with our system.

  • Skidplate

    I remember when Sam Gagner had his concussion and was out for awhile a couple of years back. I nearly ran over him and Gilbert in the parking lot at the Calgary Trail Future Shop.

    The lot was icy as hell and I was going slow and watching the doors to make sure no-one was coming out when I should have been looking forward. All of a sudden I see these two guys in black pea coats with big eyes looking at the bumper of my F350 as they kinda froze in front of me, trying to do that eye contact are you seeing us look.

    So after noticing them and braking in time not to flatten them I was pretty sure it was Sam and Tom but wasn’t hundred percent sure. Once I got in the store and was looking for whatever the heck it was I went there for I noticed them in the Video Game isle picking out games. I thought, man I should go over there and grab NHL 2011 or whatever was the latest then and get them to sign it and give it to my kid. But then I remembered that I nearly ran them over so thought it best to lie low.

    I remember laughing to myself that no one noticed who they were or recognized them and Sam was wearing an black toque with Oilers logo! It was mid afternoon on a weekday, but still.

  • Skidplate

    Love it! All my Minny bro’s are soooo pissed!
    I’m just glad we picked up a little more grit and sand paper on our back end. Leave to Petry and Whits to move the puck.

  • 24% body fat

    tsn and sportsnet claiming a win for the oilers on this trade. Will it work out? maybe, maybe not. We have to see. And maybe we traded an offensive dman but can we not just be positive about tsn saying we won. And yes I know that they said this with Kurtis foster last year,

    side note and I am asking this question not bashing Gilbert – how many oilers tweeted there feelings about this trade. It seems like a lot of wild players voiced a pretty strong opinion about him leaving.

  • 24% body fat

    I love this trade! Schultz is a shut-down defender we can match up against the opponent’s top line. Sure, Gilbert offers more offence, but he’s mediocre as a two-way defenceman. I’ll gladly take the guy who can execute his role (underrated as it is) over the guy who’s on-and-off in a tougher job.

    Now can we sign Nick to an extension?

    By the way, I love those 2 pictures of Schultz. Why don’t we have any pictures of Oiler defencemen playing like that?

  • Clyde Frog

    Meh if he is a character guy like old gator, this could be a decent trade.

    I don’t mind trading Gilbert’s pass for a steady d-man and a guy who can anchor our team character wise.

    Although if he really has lost a step and will struggle to play Gilbert’s minutes this trade will make a little sad 🙁

    We’ve spent two years crying at Gilbert’s game only to watch it become as solid as we’ve seen it in years… Not exactly the time I was hoping for him to be traded, but time will tell…

    It’s not gonna drop us into the basement, so I guess the next 21 games will tell us if we needed a different approach or not.

  • Dan the Man

    This trade feels like it was based on perception rather than actual ability. I don’t really care for it right now but it can be difficult to predict how a player fits in so I guess I’ll wait and hope for the best.

  • kdunbar

    After listening to Gregor and watching the game today, I now think I see the use of this trade.

    When the score is 4-2 and there is 4 minutes left you should not be thinking are they going to blow this one.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I think this trade was to do with not only giving some veteran stay at home D help we need but to also clear up some cap space. Hemsky fleeced the Oilers a bit with his contract ext. and Gilbert is a 4mil a year D.

    I like Petrys game better cause he uses his body infront and on the side boards more than Gilbert. Maybe this summer there will be another Dman coming in. Cause with Barker hopefully gone this is what Im hoping the D will look like



    Sutton-Tuebert or Potter or Musil (Schultz’s new prodige?)

    Still think a player like with Quinceys ability for XXX would be good or will the Oil go after a big fish in FA and actually compete next year?

    • Time Travelling Sean

      No Smid?????

      I hope the Oilers plan on having Whitney has a third pairing guy or 2nd paring and if he returns to form then we are looking great if he doesn’t then he is still an above average third pairing guy.

      (Free Agent)-Schultz

      I can live with that D as long as the dman we bring is solid.

  • So I just watched Gilbert’s exit video. He was amazingly calm and upbeat for a guy who’s been on the team for six years, has craploads of close friends here, just bought a house and has a pretty serious local girlfriend.

    Funny how he just happened to be traded to his home town for a another actual NHL’er D-man close to his cap hit.

    I’d lay some serious cash he asked for the trade.

  • Never said Smid was bad but he can’t do it all by himself. Look at the top teams in the league they have two solid defence first type dman . Chara- Seidenberg , Stuart- Kronwall etc. I like this trade cause I couldn’t stand Gilbert.

  • Look at this way – OUR GOALTENDING STINKS and often lets in a bad goal a night.

    So with Gilbert – you increase the turnover ratio, you have a D man that pinches and gets trapped often resulting in odd man rushes and goals in your net.

    Subtract Gilbert and add Schultz – you get a stay at home defensemen, capable of blocking shots on a regular basis and eliminating the odd man rush giving the goalie less to deal with.

    D is definitely a work in progress but at least now in the top 4 you have one offensive guy (Whitney/Petry) paired with one stay at home guy (Smid/Schultz).

    This indirectly helps SOG and our Goalie out – where we still need an upgrade and probably wont upgrade until all the other pieces are in place.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Something had to give. Gilbert had a tremendous start to the season playing with Smid and I would say that he’s been average to below average since returning from injury and playing with Sutton or Whitney. Petry started off terribly and turned his game right around the time that they paired him with Smid. To me, Laddy Smid has been our best and most consistent defender all season. Now he doesn’t have enough offense to be a true #1 but our D corps obviously has some room to improve. I would like to see what our D looks like going into next season before I am too critical of this deal. Right now, I want our D to look something like this going into next season:

    Smid – Petry
    Whitney – (Addition)
    Schultz – Potter
    Sutton, Peckham

    Barker is as good as gone because I doubt that we even tender him an offer. I think that we still need at least one right-handed Dman before next season to round it out. Suddenly, have quite a few defensive guys and we need somebody else to move the puck.