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.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
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.