The Edmonton Oilers are building some reasonable depth on defense in terms of quantity, but it seems to me there’s still room to add quality and that’s why it seems likely GM Steve Tambellini will make another move to bolster his blue line this off-season.

Even after added prized unrestricted free agent Justin Schultz to a blue line that includes Ladislav Smid, Ryan Whitney, Jeff Petry, Nick Schultz, Corey Potter, Andy Sutton Theo Peckham and Colten Teubert, Tambellini is open to adding another proven piece. Tambellini said so today.

"If we have a chance, regardless of who we have, we’re going to do it," Tambellini told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now on 630 CHED. "There’s no question about that."

Tambellini’s take, given how lack of depth on the back end – particularly as it pertains to defenseman ready to play in coach Ralph Krueger’s top two pairings — has been exposed the last couple of seasons, is welcome. You can’t have too many real NHL defensemen. You can, as we’ve seen, have too few.


While every one of the players I’ve listed above is or projects as an NHL defenseman, it seems to me there’s two tiers in the group the Oilers have in the fold and under contract now.

Petry, Smid, Whitney, Nick Schultz and Justin Schultz, if all the hype has merit, are legitimate options for top-four duty, although the extra body count does hinge on how Whitney’s troublesome ankle rehabs and if Petry doesn’t go sideways after making big strides at the end of last season.

As a group, the foursome of Potter, Sutton, Peckham and Teubert looks capable of rotating through the final two spots, with one in the press box. That said, it’s hardly an untouchable bunch, given Sutton’s age and that Teubert has yet to prove he can play beyond spot duty. Not a lot of margin for error.

It makes all the sense in the world for Tambellini to pursue another top-four guy. While that won’t be big deal UFA Ryan Suter – the Oilers won’t get near his short list of U.S. teams – he might be able to move some of the usual suspects up front to get what he needs. If that bumps somebody in that first group of five down, so be it. If either Schultz, for example, is in Krueger’s third pairing, the Oilers will be in pretty good shape. Tambellini will be taking calls and making some.

Sort them out later.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • bazmagoo

    I don’t think Paajarvi or Harti start the season on the top two lines. They’ll have to earn it. It can’t just be because of their size otherwise this’ll be just like the J.F Jacques experiment that Quinn did.

    As for Gagner, unfortunately, I think he’s “untouchable” unless we’re getting someone back to replace him or Hall plays centre.

  • @dougtheslug

    I read today that Nuge said it was just a regular check up and that everything checked out OK.

    Supposively we was back out golfing with Legaila?? after the check up.

    Scared the hell out of me too. Hopefully they are not hiding anything.

  • @Wäx Män Riley

    I agree there is obviously no way they are ahead of Hall, and I think Smyth is a better player if used in limited amounts so he does not get fatigued like last year.

    I would put Paarvi on one of the top 2 lines as I think he needs to play with finesse players to be effective. His rookie season that he looked really good for he was top 2 lines almost the entire season. last year he was 3rd and 4th. lets face it our 3rd is a defence first line and our 4th is AHL/roughians, not exactly elite players.

    I would like to see the top 2 lines as balanced scoring lines so it is harder to send out top checkers against them. that is why I put Paajarvi on 1 and Hall on 2.

    The difference between Harti/Paajarvi and JF Jacques is that they are big guys with skill. Jacques is not an NHL player in my mind. against certain teams or on some powerplays I undersatnd having the muscle with your skilled frowards for protection or to stand in front of the net as a screen and have pucks bounce off of them. If the player cannot play as well as fight he has no business on the top 2 lines on a regular basis.

    Hartikainan I would have on the 4th line as I feel he will do well there and can move up the lineup if need be. If Smyth keeps them out of the lineup then it was a mistake resigning him.

    He is still a solid player if used in the right spot, but these guys are ready to play and could be a big part of our future. Smyth may add some this year and to a lesser extent next year, but in my mind the primary reason to have him there is as a mentor. Having the oldest guy on the team be the last one off the ice, practicing an hour after everyone else leaves is a great thing for our young team to be exposed to. Hopefully it will be infectous and get our young guys working that much harder in practice and off the ice.

  • We are in a good spot. I would rather have too many bodies right now than not enough. There is no rush to make a move but opportunities will come along as teams get close to the cap or end up with a roster imbalance between forwards and D. I wouldn’t mind one more gritty forward if we are to part with a roster player up front.

  • I think there are benefits to both the SEL and the AHL. I think in the SEL you are playing against more skilled men where as in the AHL it’s generally skilled boys and men that are AHL role players. If they were full grown men with good skill playing in the AHL they would be given NHL opportunity.

    Playing in the AHL gets him used to the North American culture, media, more contact and the smaller rink. I would prefer he played in the AHL if he is not NHL ready, but the player himself said he would prefer to play another year in the AHL. Unless it is clear before he comes over it is to play in the AHL I think you might be burning bridges with him. If he moves because we tell him he is NHL ready, and we need him on the NHL team and then we cut him, you are hrting his confidence and trust in the team.

  • justDOit

    As much of a coup as it would be to land a Suter or Weber, it’s even better to grow those bean-stalks yourself. Draft em, develop em and use them until they’re no longer affordable – just don’t let them walk for nothing. Strangling your cap with a $100M/13yr contract is not an ideal situation to be in.

  • justDOit

    Ive read all the comments and not one person has even mentioned taylor fedun. Before his unfortanate “accident” during pre – season last yr he was almost a garuntee to make the team. He’s calm under fire, doesnt throw the puck away, doesnt panic, and makes very smart intelligent plays both with the puck and more importantly without the puck. If both fedun and schultz make the team this season and whitney returns to form of a few seasons ago, then our back – end looks just fine with trhe emergence of petry, the development of smid and sutton being his usual self.

  • @dietflannel @ jasmine

    Sorry Brownlee I usually agree with you.

    Bouwmeester would be huge if we got him. He is a true top pairing defensemen.

    That guy played on a miserable team and played tougher minutes, his defensive zone starts are extremely impressive and far better then Yandle, blocks more shots and hits more while taking almost no penalties.

    Yandles minutes are more sheltered then Bouwmeester, I am not saying I don’t like Yandle, I just don’t think you need him as bad on this team with three players all having the same like skill set, Petry-Schultz and Whitney.

    Bouwmeester career point totals are close to the same as Yandels, as for the cap hit your looking at 1.4 million in difference.

    I also like the fact that Bouwmeester is an Edmontonian, while Yandle is an American. I know it shouldn’t matter.

    We would be so lucky to get a player like Bouwmeester.

    P.S I say sell the farm and go after Weber myself!

    • Wax Man Riley

      You think “sell the farm” in the sense of trade Eberle or Hall for him?

      That is the only way I see a trade working out. I don’t know that Hemsky and Gagner do it for him. Plus you know he is going to demand $7M+ and probably 10 years….

      Not sure it’s worth it…

      How about Nail? Trade him before he plays a game?

  • “Sorry Brownlee I usually agree with you.”

    You don’t need to apologize for disagreeing, but you’re massaging the facts.

    You can have your zone starts and blocked shots (any stat that makes your case) and you can even say “close” in career pts if you choose to believe .40 PPG is close to .51 etc etc.

    If I’m a GM, I’m not paying over $6 million a season for a guy who skates beautifully and plays a lot of minutes, but doesn’t produce 40 points with regularity. Jay has underachieved his entire career for a guy who was pumped big-time as a No. 1 overall pick and who eventually went 3rd. Very good player? Yes. But so is Yandle, and he’s younger and cheaper.

    Like I said, for me, it’s no thanks to Bouwmeester. And he wouldn’t much like the scrutiny here, either. That much I know first-hand.

  • John Chambers

    @ Brownlee

    Would it make a difference if JBouw was drafted in the 5th round? Does it seem relevant to cite his salary even though the Oilers aren’t at all close to a cap team?

    If you and Wes are playing fantasy GM and he picks JBouw as his #1 and you pick Keith Yandle, you’ve selected a guy who Dave Tippett uses 5th (meaning he prefers four of his other Demn) to take on the opposition’s top players, while giving Yandle the most juicy offensive zone starts on the team.

    Bouwmeester meanwhile soaks up minutes against the other teams’ toughs, making the lives of his defensive counterparts far easier. He has done this for over a half-dozen years, despite being a terrible interview with transluscent skin. But isn’t defensive aptitude a skill set that the Oilers should place the highest value on at the moment?

    Tips of the hat to Alan Hull and Kent Wilson.

    • Good points but does this mean that if Jbo was given the soft parade in Calgary and lots of offensive zone starts, he would outscore Yandle? I’m not so sure.

      One thing I DO know is that I am SO glad I am not a Calgary Flame fan right now. Those guys are so far in denial they are completely screwed. In Edmonton we are getting close to ‘OK we have many pieces now maybe we can package a bunch to meet our needs’. In Calgary they are arse deep in ‘OMFG we have nothing quick sign all the free agents to ridiculous overpriced contracts and give them no movement clauses.’ Screwed with a capital S.

    • dietflannel

      As unfair as it is sometimes salary does come into play when judging a player. Because it is the same as anything. Is the worth of the commodity in line with the cost. In business no one would implement a procedure or machinery that would cost more money than it would make. It’s the same in hockey. For dmen that make 6+ million they have to produce because with that high a cost in a cap system it would handicap a team to have to pay a defensive dman that much and then try to land a high end offensive defenceman for 6M+, and then have to round out your defense with 2-3 other top 4 dmen for 3 to 4 plus million per dman. It would be really bad formula for holding together a contending team. Take Chicago for example, if Florida hadn’t come around and taken Brian Campbell off Chicago’s hands, then guaranteed this offseason or the next one of the big 5 in Chicago would be gone (Kane, Toews, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook) because Chicago mishandled the allocation of their salaries.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination to Follow –

    Dominoes – Suter signs in Detroit, Carle signs in Chicago, Hjarlmsson gets traded to Edmonton for Anaheims second + Peckham.

    Smid, Petry, Shultz, Whitney, Hjarlmsson, Schultz, Sutton, Potter, Teubert.

    Replace Martin with Hjarlmsson if Suter signs with the Pens.

  • “(meaning he prefers four of his other Demn) ”

    Thanks for the added explanation. I was confused by the initial reference about Tippett using Yandle 5th.

    Yandle is younger.

    Yandle is cheaper.

    Yandle outscores Bouwmeester.

    I didn’t say I’d go out and get either one, but if I HAD to choose between the two at this stage in their careers and at this point in Edmonton’s rebuild, I’d look at Yandle first.

    And money is always relevent. It’s stupid to pay more than you need to just because you can.

  • @ John Chambers
    I don’t think we need Yandle or Boumeister unless Whitney struggles. I agree if cap hit, tade cost and salary length were the same I take Boumeister over Yandle.

    The fact that we are not close to a cap team today does not matter. We will be in a couple years. If you are only brining them in for 1 or 2 years how much do you give up to get them? Certainly not part of your future I would hope.

    In a trade because of his draft position (Should not matter) his name, age, and expectations Boumeister would likely cost us more assets then Yandle. When the contract is up if we wanted to resign them I would think Boumeister would be at a much larger cap hit then Yandle.