I wrote an article earlier this week outlining the Oilers lack of size, strength and experience in their top-nine forwards. It is one element that Craig MacTavish will need to revamp in the coming years, but he will also need to improve his blueline.

Today we will take a similar look at the Oilers blueline and see how they compare against western division playoff teams.

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Once again, I sorted them out with height, weight, age, but I also added in their TOI during the playoffs so we could see how the Oilers pairs compare to the other team’s D pairings.

Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Drew Doughty   6′ 1″ 213 24 16 27:21 min
Slava Voynov   6′ 0″ 194 24 16 21:29 min
Jake Muzzin   6′ 3″ 214 25 16 21:01 min
Willie Mitchell   6′ 3″ 210 37 8 18:54 min
Jeff Schultz 6′ 6″ 225 28 7 18:51 min
Robyn Regehr   6′ 3″ 222 34 8 17:11 min
Alec Martinez   6′ 1″ 209 26 16 17:06 min
Matt Greene “A”  6′ 3″ 234 31 10 13:37 min
Average  6′ 2″ 215.2 28.6

The Kings had the heaviest group of forwards and their defence is also the heaviest. They Kings only have one D-man under 209 pounds, Voynov. They have great puck movers in Doughty, Voynov and Martinez, (each on a different pair) and usually they pair those three up with a bigger, more defensive D-man.

It is interesting to note that Schultz has played seven games so far for the Kings, after not playing one in the regular season. Darryl Sutter wasn’t scared to use him and he even played him more than Martinez. He didn’t put Martinez in a situation where he would face tougher competition or be asked to be more defensive.

It helps having an anchor like Doughty on your blueline. He can play in any situation.

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Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Alex Pietrangelo “A”  6′ 3″ 201 24 6 30:14 min
Jay Bouwmeester   6′ 4″ 212 30 6 25:51 min
Kevin Shattenkirk   5′ 11″ 207 25 6 25:39 min
Barret Jackman “A”  6′ 0″ 203 33 6 19:55 min
Roman Polak   6′ 0″ 236 28 6 18:37 min
Jordan Leopold   6′ 1″ 206 33 6 16:40 min
Average 6′ 1″ 210.9 28.8

The Blues were the only team in the west to play the same six D-men in every game. Usually you need seven or eight, and the Blues had Coliacovo and Cole ready if they needed them. The Blues have a great combination of size, skill and speed. They have three Olympians and Hitchcock plays them a lot.

The Blues lost to the Hawks because their forwards weren’t as elite finishers as the Hawks. I don’t see the Blues needing to upgrade their backend very much. For them it might just be a matter of letting Tarasenko, Oshie and Schwartz mature a bit more.

Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Erik Johnson   6′ 4″ 232 26 7 26:12 min
Nick Holden   6′ 4″ 207 27 7 22:09 min
Jan Hejda   6′ 4″ 237 35 7 21:38 min
Andre Benoit   5′ 11″ 191 30 7 21:17 min
Tyson Barrie   5′ 10″ 190 22 3 18:17 min*
Nate Guenin   6′ 3″ 207 31 7 15:59 min
Ryan Wilson   6′ 1″ 207 27 4 15:27 min
Average 6′ 2″ 210 28.3

Many have suggested the Avs don’t have a great blueline, and the Oilers could match them. I disagree. The Avs have a legit top-pair guy in Johnson. He has matured, and his size allows him to play against any of the elite forwards in the league and not be overwhelmed physically.

Barrie’s injury, due to another Matt Cooke cheap shot, really hurt the Avs in the playoffs. He was their best puckmover, and  he was averaging 23 min/game until he got hurt. Patrick Roy challenged Barrie to be more aggressive offensively earlier in the year and it worked. Roy coached to Barrie’s strength.

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Hejda, who the Oilers let walk for nothing, is a solid top-4 defender, and his size and puck smarts make him very valuable. The Oilers have to hope Oscar Klefbom can develop into a player like Johnson or at worst, Hejda.

Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Alex Goligoski   5′ 11″ 185 28 6 28:30 min
Trevor Daley   5′ 11″ 195 30 6 25:48 min
Jordie Benn   6′ 2″ 200 26 6 21:56 min
Brenden Dillon   6′ 3″ 225 23 2 18:13 min
Patrick Nemeth 6′ 3″  235 22 5 15:16 min
Sergei Gonchar   6′ 2″ 210 40 6 13:24 min
Kevin Connauton   6′ 2″ 200 24 4 10:44 min
Aaron Rome   6′ 1″ 220 30 1 8:51 min
Average 6′ 1.3″ 208.7 27.8

The Stars playoff chances took a huge blow when Brendan Dillon got injured late in the season and missed the first four games of their series. When he returned for the playoffs he wasn’t 100% and he played fewer minutes than he did in the regular season.

Goligoski rebounded nicely after a tough year last season, and he is one of the few smaller D-man who can successfully play top minutes. The Stars have a good combination of size, speed and puckmovers on their backend. They will add Oleksiak this year or next and he will give them another big body, who can move the puck.

Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Francois Beauchemin   6′ 1″ 207 33 13 23:57 min
Cam Fowler   6′ 1″ 207 22 13 23:51 min
Sami Vatanen   5′ 10″ 183 22 5 20:14 min
Ben Lovejoy   6′ 2″ 205 30 13 19:38 min
Bryan Allen   6′ 5″ 224 33 13 18:20 min
Hampus Lindholm   6′ 3″ 197 20 11 18:09 min
Stephane Robidas   5′ 11″ 190 37 3 15:51 min
Luca Sbisa   6′ 2″ 198 24 2 14:20 min
Mark Fistric   6′ 2″ 230 27 5 13:25 min
Average 6′ 1″ 205 27.5

The Ducks had a lot of depth. They used nine defenders in the playoffs, and they have Sheldon Souray returning from injury next year. They have a great combination of 30+ veterans, some mid-20s and three guys 22 and under.

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Fowler has improved every year and along with Vatanen, Lindholm  and Sbisa their blueline should be strong in the future. They surrounded their young guys with veterans who are tough and competitive in Allen and Robidas, while Lovejoy has emerged as a solid defender.

Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Dan Boyle “A”  5′ 11″ 190 37 7 21:51 min
Justin Braun   6′ 2″ 205 27 7 20:54 min
Jason Demers   6′ 1″ 195 25 7 19:57 min
Brad Stuart   6′ 2″ 215 34 7 19:47 min
Matt Irwin   6′ 2″ 210 26 2 19:47 min
Scott Hannan   6′ 1″ 215 35 7 17:39 min
Marc-Edouard Vlasic   6′ 1″ 205 27 5 16:59 min *
Average 6′ 1.5″ 205 30

The Sharks were one of the few teams who had heavier forwards than defenders. I wonder if they would have beaten the Kings if Vlasic hadn’t been hurt early in game five (which lowered is TOI/average). The Sharks will not be bringing back Dan Boyle, but they will replace him by moving Brent Burns back to the blueline. Burns is a 6′ 5″, 230 pounder who skates very well. Vlasic is under appreciated and the addition of Burns will give them more size to counter the big forwards of the Ducks and Kings.

Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Duncan Keith “A”  6′ 1″ 200 30 14 27:26 min
Brent Seabrook   6′ 3″ 221 29 11 23:56 min
Niklas Hjalmarsson   6′ 3″ 207 26 14 22:54 min
Johnny Oduya   6′ 0″ 190 32 14 22:03 min
Michal Rozsival   6′ 1″ 212 35 12 17:48 min
Sheldon Brookbank   6′ 1″ 202 33 6 16:27 min
Nick Leddy   6′ 0″ 191 23 13 15:59 min
Average 6′ 1″ 203 29.7

The Hawks top-four moves the puck quicker and more accurate than any other team’s top two pairs. Chicago is very unique in that Hjalmarsson and Oduya face tougher competition than their top pair. It allows Seabrook and Keith to be more offensive, but when needed the top pair is very good defensively.

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The Hawks 2nd pair plays more than any other in the west, and their top-four depth is why they are one of the best teams in the NHL.

Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI playoffs
Ryan Suter “A”  6′ 1″ 200 29 13 29:13 min
Jared Spurgeon   5′ 9″ 168 24 13 24:03 min
Jonas Brodin   6′ 1″ 194 20 13 23:37 min
Marco Scandella   6′ 3″ 207 24 13 21:28 min
Nate Prosser   6′ 2″ 203 28 10 12:31 min
Clayton Stoner   6′ 4″ 216 29 13 12:16 min
Keith Ballard   5′ 11″ 199 31 3 10:44 min
Average 6′ 1″ 198 26.4

Minnesota plays a strong team game, and they are built to play in the Central division. If they had to battle the big forwards of the Kings, Sharks or Ducks in the first round I doubt they would have won. The Wild barely use their 3rd pairing, and they will need to upgrade that area if they want to take a run at the Hawks or Blues in the future.

It helps having Suter anchor their blueline and play almost half the game, but I won’t be surprised to see the Wild try to add someone with some size/skill to complement Suter, Spurgeon and Brodin moving forward. If Scandella becomes their #5 defender, suddenly their team looks even better.


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Name  Height  Weight  Age GP TOI reg. season
Justin Schultz   6′ 2″ 188 23 74 23:20 min
Jeff Petry   6′ 3″ 195 26 80 21:35 min
Andrew Ference   5′ 11″ 187 35 71 21:03 min
Martin Marincin   6′ 4″ 188 22 44 19:09 min
Philip Larsen   6′ 0″ 182 24 30 17:10 min
Oscar Klefbom   6′ 3″ 213 20 17 15:47 min
Mark Fraser   6′ 4″ 220 27 23 15:29 min
Average 6′ 2″ 196.1 25.3

Eerily similar to the forwards. The Oilers are the lightest and the youngest. I didn’t include Belov or N.Schultz, who played 57 and 60 games respectively for the Oilers, because they are no longer here. If the Oilers hope to improve their blueline this fall then Fraser and Larsen shouldn’t be here either. The Oilers have a lot of height on their backend, but not much weight. It is difficult to break up a cycle if you don’t have any weight behind you.

You don’t need all your D-men to be heavy, but it would be nice to have more than one defender over 200 pounds next season. Size isn’t everything, as Keith proves you don’t have to be big to be effective. He is incredibly tenacious and competitive, which is something many of the Oilers need to add to their game.

The most obvious concern about the backend is their lack of a proven top-pair defender. Trying to find one via trade or develop one from within will be Craig MacTavish’s biggest challenge moving forward.

Until the Oilers find a true top-pairing defender it will be hard to compete. If you look at the eight playoff teams each of them had at least one solid #1 defender. Most of them had two, if not three very good D-men.

The Oilers have a lot of potential in the organization. Klefbom, Marincin, Nurse and Schultz have the potential, in different forms, to become a top pairing D-man, but even in the best case scenario it is likely that only two of them emerge to be that good. Which is fine — it is extremely difficult to be a top-pair defender.

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Klefbom will get bigger and more experienced over the next few years, and Marincin needs to put ten pounds on his frame if he wants to be able to handle many of the skilled forwards in the Pacific division.

I expect MacTavish to try to upgrade his backend this summer, and I’d expect him to try to find some veterans who can move the puck, but are also heavy enough to battle the big, skilled forwards in the pacific division.

It is apparent the Oilers lack size and experience when you compare their forwards and bluelines to the playoff teams in the west.

It is up to MacTavish to try and find the proper way to improve his team, by adding skilled size that can play, while trying not to make a trade in desperation.

Improving the Oilers won’t be easy, and I don’t expect it to happen in one off-season. 

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Recently by Jason Gregor:

    • It is up to the young guys like Taylor Hall to turn this ship around not wait for the cavalry. He needs to take this team on his shoulder and carry them like a superstar can. He already has more offensive talent around him that Hemmer ever had.

      • Jason Gregor

        I disagree. You can’t rely on a few players to carry your team in today’s NHL. You need a complete team to be competitive and the star players take you over the top.

        The type of complete team the oilers have shown they are incapable of putting together

        • Jason Gregor

          I’m sure if hall could go back and redo his draft interviews he would of told the oilers not to take him. He would of already won a cup, probably never would of been traded and would most likely helped the bruins get past the habs.

          Only 6 years left in this hockey purgatory.

        • Zarny


          Pit has flamed out with 2 of the best 3-4 players in the world. TB finished 28th last year with the top 2 scorers in the league. Without the right supporting cast Getzlaf, Perry and the Ducks finished 25th 2 years ago.

  • Zarny

    Another day, another indictment of how little Tambellini accomplished.

    Chi and LA are obviously the gold standard right now. There is no set formula. One leans towards stronger and physical; the other towards puck movement. Both have top 4 D who together do it all. That’s the goal in 3-4 years.

    Col, Dal and even Ana & SJ show the answer doesn’t have to be sexy. It doesn’t have to be Shea Weber to make the playoffs.

    All of the Oilers problems start on the blueline. None of their D should ever be on the ice against a top line. That’s certainly the biggest problem. They play in a division against behemoths like Getzlaf, Perry, Thornton, Carter and Kopitar the only D who could ever hope to knock them off the puck play on the bottom pair.

    Trading for a Norris candidate isn’t likely so MacT needs to target two #2 D who aren’t perfect. Campbell, Ehroff, Myers, Yandle, Coburn, Josi, Staal, Phaneuf, Hamonic, Muzzin, Edler, Hamhuis, Byfuglien, Bogosian, Hainsey, Fayne, Bellemore. There are options.

    Nurse, Marincin and Klefbom all have potential. They also all play the left side. So do a few other prospects in OKC. A couple of D prospects should be moved to fill holes at other positions and/or on the blueline.

  • Zarny


    Myers is a good target for the Oilers. He’s better than any D they already have. He’s not perfect but he makes the Oilers better. That’s the point.

    He doesn’t come without risk but you have to take some semblance of risk and Myers is a good bet compared to other realistic options. He’s only 24 with 318 games experience and signed through his prime. He’ll get better and until Nurse, Marincin or Klefbom pass him he can at least knock guys 6’4″ 225 lbs off the puck.

    Buf is also one of the few teams that likes Gagner. Myers probably doesn’t under perform his contract over the next 2 years more than you’d overpay Gagner.

  • nuge2drai

    I think we need a faith meter like 1-5 . 1- strongly disapprove or 5 – strongly approve of comment , player , management , coaches , etc.. Wonder how Lowe might read under the system ? Many comments I agree/disagree in part , but not in whole . How would you rate a faith meter ?

  • @ Gregor

    I know I’m late to this thread, but how is it even a remotely honest argument to show every other teams 13-14 roster while leaving off 2 of Edmonton’s heaviest and oldest players to claim that Edmonton is the lightest and youngest in the division?

    Even setting aside all of the other problems I have with height/weight/age as a ranking tool this is ridiculous.

    You did the same thing last time slipping Arcobello into the top 9, despite the fact that he spent a huge part of the year in the minors, just to nudge the averages down a bit.

    • Sorensenator

      Regardless if Gregor tweaked the averages a bit to show the difference between the Oilers size and other teams, you are lost if you think the Oilers on average are as big as other teams in the west, it’s not close bud.

    • Jason Gregor

      You might want to check your facts.

      Which Oiler on the roster now would be ahead of Arcobello? You want me to use Lander instead. Sure, then the Oilers weight a whopping 193. Big difference. You also didn’t notice that I left Brent Burns off of the Sharks forwards, because he will be playing D next year. I guess I did that to fudge their stats and try to make them look smaller.

      Joenssu played same amount of games as Arcobello, but averaged 5 min/game less. You thinkI should have used Gazdic as a top-nine forward? Right now that is who the Oilers have. You don’t have to like the truth but it is the truth.

      I used playoff teams roster. To show how far the current Oilers are away from them.

      Oldest and heaviest Oilers? Not sure who you are referring to that is currently signed with the Oilers.

      The size was there to show how much smaller the Oilers current roster is compared to playoff teams. Also to illustrate that you need size with skill in the top nine. The fact you don’t like it shows you might not recognize the need to have a balanced lineup to win in today’s NHL. It is plain to see.

      There is no players on the current Oilers that were left off on purpose to change the numbers. Oilers currently have 1 D-man signed who weighs more than 200 pounds and has played in the NHL. Simple truth.

      Arcobello was used because of minutes played and point totals of the current roster. Feel free to show which current player would have been a more accurate portrayal of a 3rd line forward.

        • Sorensenator

          How is his argument dishonest, give some examples?

          Basically your’e saying the Oilers are not small and that their size is not at all related to being unsuccessful.

          • Sorensenator


            Tiger likes to whine, but when pressed to show where Gregor was misleading he shows no proof. Typical. The guy is a troll.

            Tiger, why don’t you admit you like to whine and complain, but won’t actually have anything back up your pouting. Show us which current Oilers are ahead of Arcobello? Oh right, you can’t, so you accuse Gregor of making false claim, when in fact, his stats were all accurate.

          • I provided very specific reasoning as to what tainted his argument. I don’t think “pressed” means what you think it means.

            You’ll notice Gregor only really responded to the Arcobello bit, which was an afterthought, but there is no valid way to claim a player was one of the top 9 forwards when he spent most of the year in the minors.

            I didn’t say his claim was false FFS, I said his argument was dishonest. Those are very different things.

          • Sorensenator

            I re-read your posts and you didn’t provide any examples that support your argument.

            The two centres you could pencil in for Arcobello to increase the overall top 9 average weight is Ryan Smyth (now retired) and Anton Lander. Your average might go up from 191 to 192… lol

            The two biggest guys on the backend, Anton Belov and Mark Fraser were routinely healthy scratches so I can understand why Gregor left them out when calculating the average weight on defense. Oh wait, Fraser was included! Obviously Phillip Larson was scratched often too but Belov is no longer with the organization.

          • 1. I don’t think “examples” means what you think it means.

            2. Math is fundamental.

            3. “2 of the biggest” does not equal “2 biggest”. N. Schultz was left off of the list with Belov. ie. 2 of the biggest (and oldest) were excluded to prove how light and young the D is using a mean calculation. This is the very essence of a dishonest argument.

            4. I took no position regarding the size of the defense so your attempts to explain to me how I am wrong because they are too small are irrelevant.

  • Anton CP

    Sabres will not likely trade Myers away anyway. Even if they did, would you like to have a D that is playing for a team that actually sucked more than Oilers and have more minus than his points and on constant digressing since his rookie year just for his size?

    • Zarny

      Trading the pick should be plan A; if MacT can get suitable return.

      Not a plug or 3rd line player or anything of the foolish things you suggest the 3rd overall pick would deliver.

      If a deal can’t be reached then by all means proceed with plan B and draft another 18 y/o who will do nothing next year or the year after to make the Oilers better.

      What are you going to do if/when the 3rd overall player taken in this year’s weak draft class is still only putting up 27 pt in 3 years like Huberdeau? Because that is the comparable for this year’s prospects. It certainly isn’t MacKinnon or Hall.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        My Crystal Ball is bigger than your Crystal Ball Zarny. Lets not write these kids off just yet. MacKinnon wasn’t even the best rated player in last summers draft. One player (trading this summers 3rd) isn’t going to plug the 5 bullet holes in the bottom of our boat (holes on this roster).

        3 minutes Zarny, 3 minutes after my post and you take the wind out of my sails like this. How’s the dark side suppose to gather momentum with you slandering my agenda.


  • Quicksilver ballet

    Skill, speed, compete and size.

    One of these things is not like the others…

    One of these things just doesn’t belong….

    Can you guess which one is not as important as the others….

    Size matters little, if you don’t have the first 3. Size is over rated. This message sponsored in part by J.F.Jacques.

    • Zarny

      Here is the problem with your statement.

      Players who are top 6 F in the NHL all have skill and compete with varying degrees of speed.

      You think Hall or any Oiler is more skilled than Kopitar, Getzlaf or Carter? Ummm no…and to top it off every single Oiler top 6 F gives up at 20-30 lbs on those guys. Almost every D does too.

      No team will ever win when all of their top 6 F are at best the same size as the average NHL F.

  • Zarny


    It is not a coincidence that every team that made the playoffs has some skilled F with size in their lineup.

    It is also not a coincidence the Oilers get their sh*t pushed in 9 out of 10 times they play Ana, SJ, LA and StL. Getzlaf, Perry, Thornton, Carter, Kopitar, Backes etc look like dad’s playing against their 8 y/o against the Oilers.

    The solution is not more nifty toe drags.

    • 1. None of that contradicts my comment or the point I was making, so….

      2. It’s also not a coincidence that those teams have better hockey players.

      This whole “size” thing has gotten absurd. Of course I’m not opposed to size. I am opposed to trading eights for fives because “tall and heavy”.

      Remember how a while back Gregor compared everyone by height, but now that Edmonton has some taller defensemen they aren’t heavy enough?

      How about we just all admit that our defense sucks no matter how tall or heavy they are and focus on good defensemen instead of tall/heavy ones. Lidstrom never cracked 200 pounds either. Is someone going to tell me that a team couldn’t win with 6 Lidstroms because they need a Matt Greene in the mix? It’s crazy.

      Hilariously, the same people who were so excited to see Ference join the team because “grrr” don’t even notice that he is the smallest guy in the top 6 a complain about the size of the D.

  • Zarny

    @Quicksilver ballet

    You clearly haven’t seen my balls 😉

    I’m not writing any of these kids off. The scouting report is simply that none are uber elite prospects.

    No one this year is considered better than Nuge, Yakupov, Huberdeau or Gudbranson. That’s the development curve you should expect from Reinhart, Bennett, Ekblad and Draisaitl. They are all considered to have lower ceilings than guys like Tavares, Hall, Seguin, Duchene, MacKinnon etc. They didn’t name this draft after anyone.

    One player certainly won’t fill all of the holes in the roster but the addition that will do the least is another 18 y/o rookie.

    It’s possible no GM gives up enough value to move the 3rd pick but that should be plan A. And if you package the 3rd overall with Gagner or Yakupov or Eberle or Schultz or Klefbom/Marincin there is the potential to bring back 2-3 players that will immediately fill holes in the roster and they won’t be plugs or “fool’s gold”.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      So, much like last summer. There are no uber elite prospects “scheduled” to be released then this summer.

      Did Nathan MacKinnon fall into that “uber elite” category once surrounded by NHL calibre players in Colorado? Seth Jones was the only supposed elite player up for grabs last summer, no?

  • Zarny

    @Quicksilver ballet

    Yes, MacKinnon was considered to be a better prospect with a higher ceiling than any of the kids this year.

    Based on scouting reports, no one this year would have went top 5 last year and may not have gone top 7.

    That doesn’t mean no one this year will become “uber elite” but it’s a total crap shoot.

  • Jason Gregor


    Size Matters!

    I want Dmen who keep the other teams players from the above 8.5% success rate areas.(25 ft in)

    it is trite but correct!

    “keep them to the perimeter”

    3rd best last year? marincin.

    Top 10 before he tore his Pec?
    After tore Pec 4.5+ EVGA/60
    he lost the abilty to leverage under the shoulders. Which allowed him to prevent box entry and to battle in front of net.

    The primary role of a dman is to keep shots to perimeter and reduce player success rate.

    Ference-Petry facing 1st Comp 2.37 EVGA/60

    Marincin-Schultz 2.11 EVGA/60

    Marincin-petry 2.34 EVGA/60

    P. Larsen facing 2nd/3rd Comp
    3.69 EVGA with Fraser; Belov; Smid
    1.54 EVGA/60 w/ Ferecn; Petry; Schultz; Marincin; Klefbom.

    Likely Klefbom.

    Would love to have Larsen play $TH RW and cover the youth on d during bad performance games.

    Size do not Care.
    Keep them to the perimeter please!

  • One thing I would also like to add is that this analysis, while thought-provoking, isn’t complete without relative information. I’d like to know the average weight of current NHL defence man who have played, let’s say, 82 games as minimum. If the avg. weight is 205 pounds vs 200, that means something.

  • I would not put much weight on one game. He is a young guy. Oilers should definitely consider trading for him. BUY LOW. If he would have had a great year the Sabers would not want to trade him. With him struggling and his contract I could see the Sabers wanting to deal him. Would they take Gagner straight up? Would the Oilers want the Sabers to eat some of that 5.5 million/yr contract? I think it is an opportunity for the Oilers.