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.

  • 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.