The term "Top-Four" varies from person to person. Whether we are evaluating who is a top-four D-man, or whether Shailene Woodley, Emma Watson, Charlize Theron or Emma Stone looked the best at the MTV movie awards; we usually will have differing opinions.

Charlize and Miss Stone get my vote, but there is no wrong answer, just like there isn’t one when we debate which top-four defender is best suited to help the Oilers. We all agree the Oilers could use another veteran top-four defender, but do the Oilers have the proper pieces necessary to obtain one?

It is easy to say the Oilers need another top-four defender, but it will be much harder negotiating a trade to acquire one.

It is unlikely the Oilers will deal one of Hall, RNH, Eberle or Yakupov so I won’t use them as a comparable to any of the following deals.

Here are a few recent trades involving defenders and what it took to acquire them.


Ottawa acquired Marc Methot from Columbus for Nick Foligno.

Methot has played top-four minutes in Columbus for the past three seasons. Up until last year he played EV and PK, but this past year he averaged over 2 minutes on the PP as well. Some would argue that he’s only a #5 defender, but to get him the Sens had to part with a three-time 15-goal scorer coming off a career year of 47 points. Foligno added some grit to his game this year totalling 124 PIMs along with his 47 points.

The Oilers have no forward similar to Foligno.


Philly acquired Luke Schenn from the Leafs for James Van Riemsdyk.

Contracts were a likely a bit of a factor in this deal, with JVR a $4.25 million cap hit and Schenn sitting at $3.6 million.

Schenn is unique. He played 21 minutes/game as a rookie, then 17 his 2nd season, he jumped up to 22 in his third year and last season he only played 16 min a night. He doesn’t play on the PP. He’s only 22 and he’s already played 310 games. Some would argue he’s been as high as #3 some years and as low as #6.

Van Riemsdyk has played three years and has seen his icetime increase by one minute every year, starting at 13 and playing 15 last year. He was injured for half of last season, but he still managed 11 goals and 24 points in 43 games. He scored 21 goals in 2011 after potting 15 as a rookie. He’s 6’3" and 200 pounds, and while he isn’t physical he has some size.

He has 99 points over 2 1/2 seasons, but 83 of them have come at EV. He didn’t get much PP time in Philly because they had lots of depth, but he’ll get PP time in Toronto.

Magnus Paajarvi would need to score 21 and 11 goals his next two seasons to equal Van Riemsdyk. Again, the Oilers didn’t have a forward similar to JVR.


Phoenix acquired Zybnek Michalek from Pittsburgh for Mark Cheverie (ECHLer), Harrison Ruopp (2011,3rd rounder…physical, stay-at-home defender for Prince Albert Raiders) and the 81st pick in the 2012 draft (Oskar Sundqvist).

Michalek has played top-four minutes in Pittsburgh the past two seasons. He plays EV and PK. He was a salary dump for the Penguins. He has three years left with a cap hit of $4 million.

Michalek shoots right and has played 550 NHL games, and for the past few years he has consistently faced the other team’s top lines. Last year in Pittsburgh he and Brooks Orpik played the hardest minutes.

The Oilers could have easily been involved in this deal. They have loads of prospects and giving up two 3rd rounds and an ECHL player would have been easy to absorb. They completely missed the boat on not being involved in Michalek. The only explanation is that they felt acquiring him would lessen their chances of getting Justin Schultz, but I don’t buy that either considering Michalek doesn’t play the PP.

The Oilers could have acquired Michalek, giving up nothing significant, and went then paired Michalek with Ladislav Smid or Ryan Whitney. They could have elected to put Smid with Michalek and have them face the top lines all season, and then have Whitney with Jeff Petry and have Nick Schultz mentor the younger Schultz.

These are the types of deals that the Oilers need to be involved in.


If the Oilers are going to acquire a top-four D-man now, they will likely have to pay way more than the Coyotes did for Michalek.

The list of top-four defenders that teams would be willing to part with isn’t that long. Names like Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Martin and Keith Yandle have been floating around, but what would the Flames, Pens and Coyotes want in return.

Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi would have the most value of the Oiler forwards (keep in mind I’m not including the four kids), but Paajarvi’s value isn’t as high around the league as it seems to be in Edmonton.


Yandle is an intriguing player. The Coyotes weren’t happy how Dustin Brown ran his show in the 3rd round, and they feel Ekman-Larsson has more upside.

The Coyotes need forwards. Would Gagner and Paajarvi for Yandle make sense for both sides?

If the Oilers deal Gagner then Horcoff is their #2 centre. That isn’t the best scenario, especially because the Oilers don’t have any young offensive centres that look ready to play. Anton Lander is not ready to be a #2 centre, he might be in a few years, but if they dealt Gagner they might have to play Lander in OKC for 40 games as a 1st line centre to see if he has enough offence to be a good #2.

Yandle is a $5.25 million cap hit for the next four years, which makes him even more attractive because you know you’ll have him for at least four years. He’s only 25 years old, and if he is actually available then Steve Tambellini should be talking to Don Maloney daily.

The Oilers would likely have to add another pick or prospect to the package, but I’d make that deal if it was on the table.


I know many are leery of Bouwmeester’s $6.68 million cap hit, but Bouwmeester and his Flames teammate Chris Butler faced tougher competition than every D-man in the league except Ryan McDonagh.

Bouwmeester has played 82 games in 8 of his 9 NHL seasons so at least you know he’ll be on the ice and not on the trainer’s table.

I don’t see the Flames and Oilers pulling a deal, but if he was on the table I’d look at what it would cost.


I’d shy away from Martin. He’s 31, doesn’t bring much offence and isn’t physical. He’s a $5 million cap hit for three more years, and he don’t see him as an upgrade of Nick Schultz.


I don’t expect the Oilers to be in on every available player, but when a player like Michalek is available for nothing, I wonder why Tambellini wasn’t talking to Ray Shero.

Convincing J. Schultz to sign here was a great move by the organization, but he isn’t a veteran defender. They’ve needed and wanted one for awhile, and if they are going to acquire one via the trade route they have to be aggressive.

They don’t need to rush into any deal, but they need to be prepared to make a move when a player becomes available. Unless it is a salary dump like Michalek, the Oilers will need to be prepared to part with one or both of Gagner, Paajarvi and possibly another young forward prospect.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Lets not plan to fail…

    They shouldn’t go and grab someone with some holes in their game, someone teams have given up on, some multiple times already. The Oilers have something going on here now, something the best players in the game might want to be a part of.

    The Oilers need to show up and impress the available commodity just like they did with Justin Schultz. Like with Justin, Edmonton needs to continue acting like a winner if they hope to become one. Edmonton needs Weber every bit as much as we needed Justin……why not take a shot at the best looking girl at the dance.

    Take your best shot at Weber, whether they get him or not…. atleast you conducted business like a club headed in the right direction.

  • @ beaker

    I don’t think it is as easy to exploit if the rookies are paired with top shut down dmen which we happen to have 2 of.

    I know there will be growing pains, but let’s just say I would much rather the temporary growing pains caused by breaking in 2 rookie Dmen on separate lines then be forced to endure Horcoff as my second line centre.

  • Too many want to trade Gagner…fine, but who will replace him at the 2nd. line center?
    I think you know the answer, and it hurts, because he’s no second line player .. I am
    not mentioning his name, but he wore #10, and makes $6..million a year.

    I’d sooner trade Hemsky, at least you have Yakapov, to take his place. At this point
    I would get a filler like Roszival and see how
    Klefbom develops or one of the other prospects.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @Wax Man

    It could be 8 months before anything happens on this front. The Oilers should atleast show Poile there’s some serious interest on their behalf.

    Just because he gets dealt at the deadline next yr doesn’t seal his 2013 UFA desires. He likes what the Oilers are cooking to date i’m sure, Edmonton i have to think is on his July 1st 2013 radar. 50/50 he’s an Oiler by this time next yr.

    Money is no longer an issue for this “have” hockey market in Edmonton.

    • Wax Man Riley

      For some reason I just don’t see it. If anything, Weber being an Oiler in 2014 is about 0.033% or less.

      1/30 chance. He has the same chance as signing in Toronto, or Calgary, or Tampa Bay. My bet is Detroit or NYR are the front runners. Maybe Pitts since Crosby and Malkin are there. I bet even Minny has a better chance now that Suter is there.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Gregor good show today………It must be hard finding stuff to talk about lately, come on Nash!

    Any ways you have mentioned three trade scenarios Webber, Yandle, and Jaybo…….of all three I say Jaybo gives us the best bang for our buck. I for one have never been anxious to trade talent that is not yet fully recognized. A year can make a big difference in a player, you talked about that today. I don’t mind trading talent that has been fully recognized, such as Hemsky, Horcough, Smyth, etc.

    Given the fact our GM is risk adverse, and clearly uncomfortable ‘wheeling and dealing would it not be more prudent to draft and build our players……..or wait for a UFA to come our way?

    I would hate to trade a bunch of players only to find out we had what we covet all along!

  • Bucknuck

    Phoenix seems to like our rejects- case in point- Brule, Gilbert. Pouliot, Marc-Antoine. So logically that means that Omark, Linus, will be involved in any trade for Yandle. Actually, it’s a scientific fact.

    I would be absolutely thrilled if the Oilers could snag Yandle. But I wouldn’t give up Gagner. Pajaarvi yes, but Gagner no. Not until someone else proves they can put up 45 plus points as our number 2 C. And I wouldn’t give up on Peckham yet either. I think there’s a player in their somewhere. Just be patient, like they were with Smid, and he could be a very solid third pairing guy in the mold of Matt Greene. And Phoenix would probably be more open to taking Potter anyways, as he could replace some of Yandle’s offense from the backend.

    So with all that said, how about Pajaarvi, Omark, Potter and our or Anaheim’s second rounder? Maybe not enough, but it’s a starting point.

    • What that does do is lower their salary, something they like to do. Likely they are going to include Betttmen under their cap hit to hit the floor .

      24 players at league minimum + Bettmans salary = The Phoenix coyotes.

  • Jason Gregor

    K check this out……

    Leave gagner alone for trades the guy just needs
    The right combo like most players.
    How about, Yak-Gagner-Pajaarvi 2nd line.
    1st line, Hall-Nuge-Ebs
    These two lines are totally interchangable until
    We find what has the following.
    A proper mix of passing,positioning and goal finishing.
    Another good idea would be Nuge passing to Yak
    And vice versa=pucks in nets!!

    Just to say, Pajaarvi kinda got shafted last Lear
    By Renney in favor of smyth who burned out halfway
    Through the year last year. I know he was having
    A tough year but c’mon.

    As far as trading for a d-man, don’t do it!!!
    Wait till after the CBA and see who has to dump
    Contracts and capitalize on that. No need to be jumpy here.

    Besides we have enough offense to get by
    Until our D comes up.

    Kruger beat Canada this year
    With a lot less talent on the team.
    I don’t blame Tambo for taking it slow bc it must
    Be done properly or else all is lost!

    So just lay off all your trading and let the team run
    Hard and fast under the new coach!!

    I’m sure we will all be surprised!

  • A-Mc

    I see little sense in forcing a trade for the likes of Bow or Yandle unless it sounds very good. Klefbom is VERY close, Musil is close and Marcinen and Gernat also look promising. Why give up valuable assets for a Top 4 D unless the terms are attractive? Methot would have been perfect but frankly an older bottom pair D as a bridge to the kids. It is much too early to give up on MP and trading Gagner without a legit replacement makes no sense and any reference to Weber is ridiculous. This is the silly season. The future still comes first.

  • Jason Gregor

    Well, it all depends on how you look at it. It is with out a question the oilers need to improve their defence. But in doing so I don’t want to see Magnus Paarjarvi go away considering has the potential to be a top 6 forward. So trading him right now would be foolish, he isn’t costing the Oilers much but you need to protect yout assets. Plus Edmonton sees the value of him a lot higher than those of other cities, what do they value Paarjarvi at? Trading Ales Hemsky would seem like a good thing to do but, the question is what team would be looking at Ales Hemsky saying they NEED him on their team. He is a good player when he is healthy, and health is a consern for a 5 million dollar cap hit. Trading Hemsky I would be fine with Hemsky for a draft pick where we can draft a defenceman or trade him for a young defenceman that willl take time to develop like all players but a defenceman that has the potential to fill that Top 4 spot. Trading Sam Gagner, well it wouldn’t be a bad idea, but first see what comes out of Arbartration. The Oilers defence will improve over time, but till then you need to be patient, if we look at the lineup we could defenately use a top 4 defence but we need to think about our youth defenceman and their potential they can bring to this franchise.

  • Jason Gregor

    Let’s all face it

    We are all mysteriously fascinated by the prospect of a Schultz – Schultz D pairing. It’s a commentators wet dream.

    Gino is salivating at the material for his pre game commentary

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Totally agree with Gregor. Take off the Oiler goggles. I’m a die-hard, but understand exactly what he’s saying. It’s the same guy who argues with me that Horcoff is a good NHL player, when he isn’t, just because he wears an Oilers jersey!

    Yandle is young, signed for 5 years at a fairly modest cap-hit, and PROVEN. Just as Gregor said, I’d take proven over someone who might pan-out. The Oilers defense is weak sauce. We would finish higher in the standings with Yandle on the blueline, than with Gags at 2C and PRV in OKC- guaranteed.

    As much as I think Gags could light it up with a Yakupov or other young gun on the wing, he still hasn’t surpassed his rookie point totals. Outside of the 8 point night, he wasn’t all that good last season either. It would pain me to see Horcoff at 2C, but if it meant Yandle being here for 5 years, I would take it.

    • Wax Man Riley

      But Horcoff is a good NHL player. Overpaid? Absolutely.

      Thrown in above his head until RNH got here? Yup.

      But he won’t have a problem finding a job after his contract is done in 2025. You don’t play 765 NHL games if you are a bad player. Ask Schremp or Omark.

  • @ Jason Greger

    I guess where we are disconnecting or disagreeing is that you see Yandle as a legit #1 Dman and I do not. I see him as a solid offensive Dman in the Souray mould. if his attitude was right I would have loved to have kept Souray same as I would love to add Yandle.

    I would not however trade a legit 2C for this type of player when my team is thin down the middle and has no replacement or prospects in the pipeline to replace him.

    Now if I were looking through your eyes and saw him as a legit #1 (such as Larson, Doughty, Weber, Suter, Karlsson) That was signed long term to this type of cap hit. then I would 100% agree with you. It is much harder to find a legit 1D on a reasonable contract then it is to find a 2C and the 1D plays more minutes and would have more impact.

  • Yandle averaged 0:09 per game on the PK this year, in 10/11 he averaged 0:43 per game, and in 09/10 he averaged 0:33 per game.

    According to behind the net he’s never been played top opposition at ES. By no means am I saying he doesn’t have value, all I’m saying is those numbers don’t scream top 2 D.

    He has provided the offense of a top 2 D is the offensive production. There is no doubt that’s valuable. Over the next few years, EDM will ideally be looking to break in guys like Schultz, Klefbom, etc into the 2nd and 3rd pairs at ES – it’s great that Yandle can do a fantastic job offensively in those circumstances but I would argue they are more in need of a D that can play against top competition. It may be that Yandle can do that, but he hasn’t so far and if you pick him up with that in mind, it’s possible he can’t handle it, or that he can handle it defensively but at the expense of a good chunk of his offense.