The Oilers don’t need more of what they have, they need more of what they don’t have.
Tom Gilbert is a good NHL player, but the Oilers already have two players similar in style; Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz. Schultz isn’t as experienced or polished defensively as Gilbert, but he’s much better offensively, while Petry and Gilbert are very similar.
You won’t win with three right shot D-men who are virtually the same player, especially when none of them are heavy, physical or excellent defenders. Please stop believing it would be smart to employ all three of them next season.
The argument for Gilbert is that he has good stats. He has decent stats on a crappy hockey team, but I do ask why no other team bothered to sign him a last summer or trade for him at the deadline? You can rave about his advanced stats, but that doesn’t overshadow the deficiencies in his game. His game isn’t awful by any stretch, but is he really that different from Petry or Schultz?
Yes, he is better defensively today than Schultz, but that doesn’t mean he is a great defender. The Oilers blueline can’t consist of all the same types of players and expect to win. I think we all agree the Oilers need to improve their blueline, but they need more than just puckmovers on the backend. They need a cycle buster, a guy with size and strength who is good positionally and can win battles in the corners and in front of the net.
Gilbert is not that guy.
CHANGE THE MIDDLE…
I’ve also noticed a huge swell of support for Marc Arcobello and how he’d automatically be an upgrade on Sam Gagner. Are you positive about that?
Gagner had a brutal season, but much of it was due his broken jaw. He lost 10 pounds when he was eating through a straw for the first few weeks, and he came back early, which he admitted to me later in the season.
He comes back early, has no success and then losses his confidence. Then he spends the next two months trying to regain his confidence, his conditioning and his ability to play. I understand a player’s inner drive and willingness to try and help out, but coming back early from an injury often leads to more problems.
Many feel Gagner will be moved this summer. He could be, but right now Craig MacTavish would be selling low. Had you traded Gagner last summer, after 38 points in 48 games, his value would have been much higher. Maybe MacTavish waits to see if Gagner can rebound, or maybe he trades him. Right now I think it is 50/50.
However, the expectations that Arcobello will be better are pure “best case scenario” thinking. He likely would be able to match Gagner’s offensive numbers from last year, but could he put up 38 in 48 games? That is a 65 points in a regular season. I doubt either of them could produce that.
Even if Arcobello becomes a 45-50 point player, Gagner’s average over an 82-game season, will that improve the Oilers? I don’t see how.
The Oilers need more than just production from their 2nd line centre. They need that player to be productive defensively as well.
Can Arcobello be a productive two-way centre? Maybe.
Can the Oilers afford to start another season with a maybe at the 2nd line centre position? Not if they expect to compete.
That is the issue with Arcobello. He might be better suited as a 3rd line centre at this point, and even then there is no guarantee he can be an effective NHLer over the course of a full season. He might be, but at some point the Oilers need to find more “He will be” types of players.
If you feel Gagner isn’t the answer, that is fair and justified, but I’m not sure what makes people believe that Arcobello will be any better. He would be cheaper, but it is only a guess from any of us if he would be an upgrade.
- The Oilers would be better off signing Ron Hainsey than Gilbert. I said last summer Hainsey would have been a good bet, and much better than Grebeshkov — not saying much, I know — but he’s still a solid veteran. He shoots left, but right now the Oilers only have one veteran left shot, Ference, so they could use Hainsey.
- Nikita Nikitin might be a buy low type of player. He’s coming off a tough season, and he seems to have fallen out of favour in Columbus. He played 5 of 6 playoff games for the Blue Jackets and he’s a 3rd pairing defender. He played 11:38 and 11:48 in games 1 and 3. In games 2 and 4, which went to OT, he played 20 and 21 minutes, then he played 16 in game 5 and was a healthy scratch in game 6. Nick Schultz dressed in game six.
Is Nikitin a #6/7 or was he misused in Columbus? He was used as a top-four defender in 2012 and 2013, but those were non-playoff teams. Nikitin is big and strong, but his decision making with the puck is a concern. If the Oilers are looking at him, then a short term deal, one, maybe two years, would be better than a long term.
Honest question. How come hockey fans don’t go watch the WHL finals? The hockey between the Oil Kings and Portland has been outstanding the past few seasons, and I’m just curious why it doesn’t grab the attention of hockey fans. Is it NHL or nothing for you? Are you tired of going to the rink?
- Peter Laviolette pushed the Flyers to sign Vinny Lecavalier last summer. Laviolette got fired and Lecavalier never fit into Craig Berube’s plans. He only played 10 minutes a night in the playoffs. With Laviolette in Nashvillle, don’t be surprised to see Vinny follow Laviolette as long as the Flyers retain some of his salary. The Preds will want to replace Legwand who was traded to Detroit.
- After Paul Stastny the list of free agent centres isn’t great. Dave Bolland would be a good complementary player, but he is not worth $5 million. Brian Boyle could help as a 3rd line centre and Grabovski might be worth the risk, but after that there isn’t a lot to get excited about.
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