The great thing about Oiler fans is that we all have ideas about how to solve the team’s problems. Take the defense—please! The online endorsements for various NHL defensemen to come in and save the day is long and varied, and I wondered how many could reasonably be considered a viable option. Here we go.

I like to use the Vollman Sledgehammer. It takes quality of competition, zone start, TOI and shot differential and puts it into one nice graph. As an adult learner, pictures are always better.

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phaneuf sledge

Phaneuf is in the ‘Shawshank Laundry Room’ portion of the graph, getting severe zone starts and toughest available competition. I think Phaneuf could improve the color of that bubble if he played for a team that gave him a little better support (and Gunnarsson didn’t look right all year, either). Double Dion certainly played enough to cover the No. 1 role and he’s not 35 years old. That said, I know this isn’t a wildly popular choice so will move on to the next.


stralman sledge

Anton Stralman gets mentioned a lot, and there are some nice things. He plays second pairing competition and has a nice blue (good) bubble going on. However, Stralman gets a zone start push and I don’t think his 19:24 a night suggests he’s ready to step in and play 25 a night like Phaneuf can.

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markov sledge

I really like Markov. He plays severe zone starts and the quality of competition is 2nd pairing (and they aren’t miles from the top pair). His bubble color is almost blue, and for me he’s a guy who could help next season. The problem? The years after that, and you KNOW Edmonton would have to offer many years on the contract.


coburn sledge

I like this player a lot, and we know for a fact that Edmonton had an interest in him at last year’s draft. Blue bubble, tough competition and zone starts are no picnic. He played 22:26 a night this season, so he may not be ideal (that’s pretty much Petry minutes) but I’d take him.


byfuglien sledge

Oh hell I know they have him on the wing now, but Buff is a helluva player, he really is. He’s a bomber on the power play and loves to engage in the battle. Dustin Byfuglien gets overlooked imo because of his unusual name and the fact he doesn’t look like Chris Pronger out there, but man I’d take him.

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fayne sledge

Gets mentioned a lot, but he plays 18:18 a night, and like Stralman I think an added 6 or 7 minutes a night probably impacts the blueness of the bubble.


crazy cat

For me, it’s down to Coburn, Markov, Byfuglien and Phaneuf. I know they’re expensive and I know some of them are older than dirt, but the Oilers have all the youth in captivity and that doesn’t count for a tinker’s damn.

Get Stralman and Fayne if you can, sure. But these 24+ minute a night studs are the difference makers. I’d like to see Coburn in Oiler silks. 

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  • oilerbuff

    Coburn is not a big point producer. we need offense from our D as much as we need defence. for me, it’s Buflygien all the way.He produces offense from D position and is versatile enough to play right wing which is also a position of weakness for the.oil. he is everything this team.needs. massive player difficult to play against in every way. I’d pay dearly for him. phaneuf has too many holes in.his game and a ridiculous contract. markov has serious problems staying healthy

  • @Lowtide

    You keep pushing Grabovski in a lot of other articles. Are you slow on the news he has signed onto a professional soccer contract? To me that means he’s done in the NHL.

  • Kodiak

    I’d take Stralman + Fayne instead of Phaneuf but come on, we are the Oilers and beggars can’t be choosers. Any of these players are an upgrade. Realisticly, we need to add at least two of these players to slow the leaks in the SS Oiler.

  • The Last Big Bear

    The Oilers and their fans need to take the idea of “defence by committee”, take it out behind the barn, shoot it, and bury it.

    Bury it deep.

    Because Edmonton is one of the worst-positioned teams in the NHL to pursue that strategy.

    There are two important keys to defence by committee:

    1) Your centres are the most important part of the committee, and
    2) Instead of 1-2 elite defencemen, you need 4-6 well-above-average defencemen.

    High-end teams have centre depth like Kopitar, Richards, and Stoll. Or Crosby, Malkin, and Sutter. Or Thornton, Pavelski, and Couture. Or O’Reilly, Stastny, and McMinnon. Those teams have the centremen to pull off defence by committee. The Oilers are not even in this discussion.

    Even bubble teams like Philly still have centre depth like Giroux, Lecavalier, Coutourier, Schenn, etc.

    Heck, the Flames are an absolute bottom-feeder, and I’d say Monahan is better *defensively* than RNH (Monahan also scored more goals), Backlund is clearly better than Gagner (and also scored more goals) and that Stajan is comparable to Gordon defensively (but you guessed it, scored nearly twice as many goals).

    If you do not have a surplus of high-quality NHL defencemen, and an excellent set of defensively-capable centres, you are not pursuing defence by committee.

    You are just using a buzz-word to make yourself feel better about having garbage defence.

    For the Oilers to actually pursue defence by committee, they would need to add probably 3-4 very good defencemen and a game-breaking centre.

    It’s not a bad strategy, but its about as far away as you can get away from what the current Oilers roster looks like.

  • Zarny

    @The Last Big Bear

    Perhaps it’s semantics and varying definitions of “elite”, but I would argue Edmonton’s only option right now is “defense by committee”.

    The Oilers are not going to acquire one of the 10-12 sexiest names for D in the NHL. Weber, Suter, Keith, Doughty etc aren’t going anywhere. Maybe Nurse, Klefbom or Marincin get to that level someday but in the meantime the Oilers need to take a page out of Vancouver’s book and assemble a group of 4-5 Dmen that could all be #2-3 on a contender.

    Now if by “defense by committee” you mean forwards bailing out D who should never be on the ice against the best players in the game…yeah the Oilers can’t do that.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Of course there is some fudge room regarding who you want to consider elite, but my main point was that unless the Oilers add a guy who is unquestionably top-tier, their defence is still going to be inadequate until they add an impact centreman as well.

      And by the time you acquire several NHL-ready defenders, and an impact centreman, it will have cost you enough that you may as well have just gone for the elite stud defenceman to start with.

      There’s a reason why every Oilers discussion group is obsessed with Shea Weber trade proposals.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      First pairing minutes, pp and pk and only 5 goals 17 points and -6 over the season. Those are Oiler’ish numbers already for Braydon Coburn. Does he even do anything exceptionally well? These numbers have meaning as well, don’t they?

      Pure Salary dump as far as I’m concerned. Edmonton has enough trash already. We don’t need to be taking on the Flyers trash as well. He probably has a lot to do with why the Flyers were first round road kill again, having both top pairing blueliner positions vacant, much like the Oilers.

      Learn to recognize garbage when you see it Zarny. 6’5 and can’t break the cycle. He doesn’t fight, he doesn’t score, sign him up because the Oilers are the bottom rung on the ladder. It’s stupid moves like this that has us in this mess. Flush that 3rd for a year and a half of Braydon Coburn……sheeesh.

      • Zarny

        Yes, Coburn does do something exceptionally well. He plays defense. You know…knocks guys off the puck and breaks up the cycle with his 6’5″ 220 lb frame.

        No, Coburn isn’t going to light it up on offense. If he did, he’d cost $7-8M not $4.5M.

        Phi lost to NYR in 7 games. You know…the blue team in the Stanley Cup. Losing to the Stanley Cup finalist is hardly road kill but reality has certainly never been your strong suit.

        To suggest Braydon Coburn is “garbage” simply shows you know nothing about hockey. His Vollman sledgehammer almost perfectly superimposes over Zdeno Chara’s. Not as dark of blue but identical level of competition and zone starts. Perhaps those graphs are just too confusing for you.

        You typify the problem with many fans who think the only viable solutions are Norris candidates. The Oilers aren’t getting Shae Weber…ever. Deal with it. They aren’t getting Subban or Suter or Keith or Doughty either. The Oilers are not going to acquire a D who does it all because it would cost Taylor Hall + Nuge + 2014 1st pick + 2015 1st round pick.

        Which means they should go after a tandem like Coburn and say Keith Yandle who are both actually feasible options. If they want to get better. If the Oilers want to continue losing then yes, by all means, draft another 18 y/o.

        Because that is working so well isn’t it.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Zarny – you are easily the most balanced, intelligent, non-emotional (if that is even possible anymore on an Oilers blog) commenter.

    Day in, day out. Every comment is excellent.

    Good work. Thanks.

    You should write articles instead of Brownlee.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Good article from Lowetide. Great analysis by Zarny. Good point / Counter point between Zarny and QSB. Good supporting comments and insight from many like Last Big Bear makes for an above average blog. And all done with a reasonable degree of good etiquette and respectfulness.

      A pleasure to read, it got me thinking, I gained some useful insight. Well done by all of you!

    • Zarny

      Thanks bud! I have my bad days but it probably helps that I save hurling expletives for watching the Oilers and playing Call of Duty.

      And even if I don’t agree I enjoy those who challenge my opinions like QSB.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Just to clarify re: The Vancouver model.

    I think this is a perfectly valid model.

    On defence the Canucks had Erhoff, Edler, Bieksa, and Hamhuis. I’d argue that these guys are all better than anyone currently on the Oilers.

    At centre, the Canucks had Ryan Kesler, and Henrik Sedin taking most of the draws. These guys were also on a different level from anyone on the Oilers now.

    The Oilers fall short of that model by four defencemen who are better than anyone currently on the roster, and would then need to add a Selke- winner and a Hart-calibre centre.

    I think they would have a better chance of snagging someone like Suter or another top-10 ish defenceman.

    Either way though, they’ve got a tough row to hoe.

  • camdog

    Coburn sort of reminds me of Gilbert and Petry. If we are going to trade assets for him, might as well just sign Gilbert as a UFA. Thing is though if Philly is going to try and move him and then get somebody better, why are we taking on Coburn and not targeting who they are going after? I guess they may go after somebody as a UFA that won’t sign here.

  • Sorensenator

    Coburn plays against the other teams top players and he logs the most ice time of anyone on the team. He also gets a lot of D zone starts I believe, sounds like he has the trust of his coach and gets all the tough assignments. Must be a pretty good defenseman. Why would we want somebody like that?

    • camdog

      Gilbert and Petry had the same zone starts in Edmonton. Personally I like Petry and I liked Gilbert, when he was here in Edmonton, so that’s not an insult as many on here will take it.

      Before Philly gives away Coburn for nothing, they have to sign a big UFA d-man. That hasn’t happened yet. If they can’t sign that guy then they have to use Coburn in the trade to acquire that d-man. If we offer us Justin Shultz that might get the deal done, do we want to do that?

      Trust me if we could acquire him for nothing I’d take him in a beat. But if I have to pay to get him, and I could get Gilbert for free I would target Gilbert. And as I have pointed out there are a few GM’s in the league that have a distaste for our model, so they won’t be doing us favours and Hextall is one of these GM’s.

      Now in respect to Vincent Lecavalier on the other hand, well if he agreed to come here Philly would trade him here in a heartbeat. They actually want him off of their books.

  • Zarny


    Coburn is much more physical than any of Gilbert, Petry or Schultz which is what Edm needs. He also faced substantially better competition than any of them last year.

    Gilbert is probably an option the Oilers should consider but he plays a soft game like Petry and Schultz so he isn’t ideal. Mark Fayne would certainly be a better option on the right side.