There’s little doubt the Edmonton Oilers are going to be looking for blueline help this summer. The club has enough assets–young NHLers, prospects and draft picks–to overpay for a legit impact defender. Is the shopping list a long one? Will any of these player types be available?


Oiler fans know the club has some extreme needs on defense. Ryan Whitney’s injured and doesn’t look like he’s going to get better or quicker any time soon. Cam Barker has been a disappointment, Corey Potter started well but his effectiveness since returning from injury has been found wanting. Theo Peckham has struggled more than anyone.

That leaves Ladislav Smid, the trending Jeff Petry, new hire Nick Schultz and big man Andy Sutton to save the day.

That my friends is not enough. Over the next few weeks I’ll profile some of the players Edmonton may target this summer. I understand they may not be available–these players rarely are–but want to get an idea about what kind of talent pool may be out there when the trade market opens.


The available candidates have some things you’re not going to like. Some of them cost too much, others have injury histories that are cringe worthy and still others may not be as "high end" as Oiler fans would like to see incoming over the summer.

Note: For Leaf fans, I’m not suggesting Phaneuf is getting traded or that Brian Burke would even consider it. I’m suggesting Edmonton might be interested in the player.


Dion Phaneuf is a very famous hockey player on a very famous team. I can hear howls from both Oiler and Leaf fans when reading his name as a possibilty, but there are reasons to believe he might be available over the summer. Toronto has not had success with Double Dion as their whammo captain and he doesn’t ka-bong like he used to. Moreover, Phaneuf takes home a mighty mighty paycheck every month ($6.5M times 2 after this season) and Toronto is paying a lot of money to their blue.

Let’s start by seeing how the Leafs use Double Dion:

  • EV: 69, 3-15-18, 19:14 per game
  • PP: 69, 6-15-21, 3:40 per game
  • PK: 69, 0-1-1, 2:30 per game

Right away we see that this is a 25 minute a night defenseman and he plays in all three disciplines. Toronto boasts the 8th best PP and 29th ranked PK so there might be some question as to how much he’s helping 4×5.

At even strength, Phaneuf this season has performed well. The offensive numbers he’s delivering are well short of his contract, but he’s a more consistent defender and the numbers are good for a 9th place tie in the entire NHL. Edmonton’s current point leader from the backline has half the points (20) and is half as effective on the PP.


Phaneuf is having a good season by this metric, we see those big 5×5 minutes and a Corsi Rel in the black. This graph also shows us that the future of Toronto’s blue should be able to survive a Phaneuf trade–Liles, Gardiner, Gunnarson, Franson and Schenn should be the future. That’s a more cost effective group too, with Phaneuf’s contract down the line.


Komisarek and Gunnarson get the tough assignments and after that it’s pretty much random from what we see here. Ron Wilson certainly gave his 4 best offensive options the best chance to impact the game in a positive way with zone starts in enemy territory.


We see with Qual Comp the real pecking order for Ron Wilson. He put Phaneuf and Gunnarson out against the tough opposition and then rotated the soft parade among the rest. Interesting to see Komisarek getting soft minutes, tough zone starts and a terrible Corsi Rel–I’d be interested in seeing the quality of players he was out there with during those sorties.



First, we wouldn’t have this conversation without Gabriel Desjardins and behind the net.ca but after that we get a look at a pretty nice NHL player. Is he worth the money? Well, I think we can agree not having one of these guys makes for a pretty crappy winter so I’d suggest we include him on the list and see how many we can find who are clearly better than Double Dion. Phaneuf has settled down defensively and his offense has returned to more historic levels–although he’s certainly not the PP monster of olden days.

I have no idea if Toronto would deal him, and whether Edmonton would have the assets to move in a blockbuster to bring the back man back to Alberta. We’ll deal with those issues after we identify the available talent pool.

Dion Phaunef must certainly a player of interest.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    maybe we can bring Dion in and Dustin back. awesome.

    no offense LT. i hope we reach higher than Phaneuf when we look for that defenceman we need.

  • I would have to say no, he just another guy that only seems to show up when he wants to especially when he was in Calgary. There was a reason they traded him and I don’t think that should be added to the team. Also Horcoff for starters shouldn’t be an Oiler next season but thats like asking for a miracle but he should not be captain next season either. I would give it to Hall as a lead by example. Also I fully expect that if Tambo and Renny are both here next season there will be little to no personel changes and this team will be a bottom 5 again.

    The whole bottom 6 last night were invisible from my eyes. Not effort and determination. Defense was bad as usual but Smid and Petry still looked good. I swear this team is going to lead to higher suicide rates in Edmonton

    • ralph_u

      Here, Here on Horcoff. Love the guy, but if this team needs the cap space then I’m all for it. I don’t believe the Oilers are anyways close to a cap team next season, so he will be here. Hopefully they can reduce him to a 15-16 mins a night guy and I think that would be ok.

      I’ve said it before, that as long as Horc’s playing 21 mins a night, this team is rebuilding. Timewise he is our number one guy still, and if this is the case next year, we will see more of the same.

    • The Oilers need real hockey players with heart, determination and skill. I really couldn’t care if they played for the Flames. Would you take Giordano? In a heartbeat. However, I don’t think DP is the answer. The Oil need a young(er) stud to build around with a good veteran mentor to assist in the kid’s development. We may have the answer in our system already but I’d rather we pick up a player in his third or fourth year that is projecting well. Keep in mind that most big name defensemen who have been traded in the past 5 years don’t turn out as planned. Bouwmeester, Phaneuf, Campbell, Johnston(s), Byfug, Gilbert (TBD). Pronger seemed to be the exception – he was gold wherever he went. My point is there is risk in going out after the biggest fish. The biggest successes seem to be finding an emerging talent on the blue line who has suffered through the first few years of development with his draft team and traded for other talent. Many examples of this.

  • oilbaron

    Stat guys, prove me wrong

    Carle without Pronger would be a terrible choice. Carle is another #4 defenseman that prior to the trade of Gilbert, we had too much of.

    Wideman and Garrison could be good PP options, but they don’t strike me as exceptional defensive options.

    I am in the Weber/Suter boat, but they may be too expensive to bring in.

    And I know its even harder to attain, but we want a future cornerstone that isn’t quite there yet. (eg. Pietrangelo, Dougie Hamilton, maybe Bogosian etc.)

    • oilbaron

      pronger only played 13 games this season and in those 13 games, Carle had 7 points (.53 PPG) and was a -1 with an average of 23.7 minutes per game.
      since than carle has played in 55 games has 27 points (.49 PPG) is +6 and averages 23minutes per game.

      It might be just me, but in just these stats that i posted i dont see any proof that pronger going down has impacted Carle’s play in a negative way. If you also look at his previous seasons he’s on the up swing and hes getting better every year. we need players like this.

        • OilLeak

          Really? Considering that most defenseman are not generally effective till their mid twenties, i’d like to know what you consider an effective NHL player. Carl is excellent and is in his prime.

          • Is he in his prime or is he on the upswing? Make up your mind, they are not the same thing.

            Carle is a good defenseman who will soon be paid like an elite defenseman. I’d rather have an elite defenseman if I’m paying that kind of money.

            This reminds of all the people that think White suddenly became a good defenseman when he started playing with Lidstrom.

          • OilLeak

            Can players on the rise not be in their prime? I think so, If getting Carle required an overpayment I would do it, this team will not get any better shuffling deck chairs.

            Personally, I would love to acquire an elite defenseman via trade, but teams are not usually willing to part with those type of players.

            Who would you attempt to realistically acquire?

          • Can players on the rise not be in their prime?

            Not if you know what the words “prime” and “upswing” mean.

            If getting Carle required an overpayment I would do it, this team will not get any better shuffling deck chairs.

            Paying elite money to an above average defenseman is probably the worst mistake a GM could make.

            Who would you attempt to realistically acquire?

            If you want to know who I would target try reading the thread.

  • oilbaron

    No to Phaneuf. Another LH dman does not serve us. I’d like to see Wideman from Washington, who would only cost us money, or Garrison from FLA (who is LH) who would be cheaper.

    And if we are going to deal assets, make a play for Weber. Shoot for the moon, or overpay. Wideman at Phanuef’s money is something he would go for, and would allow us to use some of the assets we have to improve in other areas.

  • oilbaron

    woohoo FIST, thank god i called in sick today.

    please no! if your gonna go after a defenceman via trade that costs as much as phaneuf, lets look else where. Matt Carle is a UFA at seasons end and he’s on the up swing. he would look nice lined up next to petry or shultz. wont cost us assets to get him and he wont be as big a cap hit as Pierre Mcquire’s boyfriend.