TOP 100 OILERS: LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (87)

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the Edmonton Oilers over the last 20 years, I can count the number of the defensemen with the same level of offensive skill as Lubomir Visnovsky on one hand – Chris Pronger, Ryan Whitney, Janne Niinimaa, Roman Hamrlik and Boris Mironov.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, the gifted and undersized Slovakian blueliner spent just 107 games over parts of two seasons in Edmonton silks between the time he was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in June of 2008 and sent to the Anaheim Ducks in March of 2010. A glimpse is all we got.

Lubomir Visnovsky #71

Defenseman

NUMBER: 11 BIRTHDATE: August 11, 1976
HEIGHT: 5′ 10″ BIRTHPLACE: Topolcany, Slovakia
WEIGHT: 192 DRAFTED: LAK / 2000 NHL Entry Draft
SHOOTS: Left ROUND: 4th   (118th overall)

BY THE NUMBERS

CAREER REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS

SEASON TEAM GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG S S%
2000-01 KINGS 81 7 32 39 16 36 3 0 3 105 6.7
2001-02 KINGS 72 4 17 21 -5 14 1 0 2 95 4.2
2001-02 SLOVAKIA-OLYMPICS 3 1 2 3 0
2001-02 SLOVAKIA-WC-A 5 2 1 3 2
2002-03 KINGS 57 8 16 24 2 28 1 0 1 85 9.4
2002-03 SLOVAKIA-WC-A 9 4 8 12 2
2003-04 KINGS 58 8 21 29 8 26 5 0 0 114 7.0
2004-05 SLOVAKIA-W-CUP 4 0 0 0 -5 6
2004-05 HC SLOVAN SLOVNAFT BRATISLAVA-SLOVAKIA 43 13 25 38 40
2004-05 SLOVAKIA-WC-A 7 2 6 8 0
2005-06 KINGS 80 17 50 67 7 50 10 0 3 152 11.2
2005-06 SLOVAKIA-OLYMPICS 6 1 1 2 0
2006-07 KINGS 69 18 40 58 1 26 8 0 0 159 11.3
2007-08 KINGS 82 8 33 41 -18 34 3 0 1 153 5.2
2007-08 SLOVAKIA-WC-A 5 2 7 9 0
2008-09 OILERS 50 8 23 31 6 30 5 0 1 86 9.3
2009-10 OILERS 57 10 22 32 -4 16 4 0 1 78 12.8
2009-10 DUCKS 16 5 8 13 -6 4 1 0 1 53 9.4
2009-10 SLOVAKIA-OLYMPICS 7 2 1 3 0
2010-11 DUCKS 81 18 50 68 18 24 5 0 4 152 11.8
2010-11 SLOVAKIA-WC-A 3 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0
2011-12 DUCKS 68 6 21 27 7 47 1 0 1 112 5.4
2012-13 ISLANDERS 35 3 11 14 12 20 1 0 0 69 4.4
2012-13 HC SLOVAN BRATISLAVA-KHL 32 6 10 16 22
2013-14 ISLANDERS 24 3 8 11 -1 10 2 0 1 34 8.8
2014-15 ISLANDERS 53 5 15 20 -3 8 2 0 1 85 5.9
NHL TOTALS 883 128 367 495 40 373 52 0 20 1,532 8.4

CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS

SEASON TEAM GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG S S%
2000-01 KINGS 8 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 0 6 0.0
2001-02 KINGS 4 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0.0
2004-05 HC SLOVAN SLOVNAFT BRATISLAVA-SLOVAKIA 14 2 10 12 10
2010-11 DUCKS 6 0 3 3 -2 2 0 0 0 11 0.0
2012-13 ISLANDERS 6 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 11 0.0
2014-15 ISLANDERS 4 0 2 2 5 0 0 0 0 5 0.0
NHL TOTALS 28 0 8 8 5 4 0 0 0 35 0.0

NOTABLE

GM Kevin Lowe gave up a couple of popular and solid role players in centre Jarret Stoll and blueliner Matt Greene to get Visnovsky, who was drafted by Los Angeles and played seven seasons there, from the Kings, but there’s no question the Oilers got the best player in the trade.

While Visnovsky had some reservations about being traded to Edmonton – he was dealt by GM Dean Lombardi one day before a no-trade clause kicked in, he was happily settled in L.A. and his fiancé was expecting – he added more offensive punch to a group that already had some with Sheldon Souray, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov.

In his first season with the Oilers, Visnovsky put up 31 points (8-23-31) in 50 games before his season was ended by a dislocated shoulder that required surgery. In 2009-10, the first year of a five-year contract worth $28 million, Visnovsky had 32 points (10-22-32) when the Oilers dealt him to the Ducks for Whitney and a sixth-round draft pick. You can see Visnovsky’s exit interview with media here.

THE STORY

At the time, I liked the acquisition of Whitney because he also brought an offensive dimension, was seven years younger than Visnovsky and didn’t make as much money. While Whitney looked like the goods in 2010-11 with 27 points in 35 games, a torn tendon in his foot ended that season and he would never be the same.

Visnovsky, meanwhile, did Whitney one better in 2010-11 by leading NHL defensemen in scoring with a career-high 68 points, including 18 goals, in Anaheim. While Visnovsky never played a full season after that, he’d finish his career with 495 points in 883 games. 

Simply put, Visnovsky thought the game on an elite level and produced points everywhere he played. He had a terrific NHL career and had he spent more of it playing in Edmonton, he’d be a lot higher on this list.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

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  • Oilcounty88

    I was thinking Spacek would qualify as providing more offense than some of them. Though we only had him for a short time, he was tremendous on the blue.

  • Jay (not J)

    Stoll and Greene did pretty well for LA. It’s funny how the soundbite world has distilled the whole trade thing down to ‘the team that gets the best player wins the trade’. Here’s an example of how LA went out and got the pieces that would help move them forward and did it by giving up the better piece.

  • Jack Dupp

    Hey Brownlee,
    Love your series on the top Oilers.

    Just a quick note, Lubo wore #71.

    I think some other guy was the only one to wear #11 for the Oilers. Can’t quite remember his name though…

  • camdog

    The Oilers lost 2 young players that would have given them heart and soul for a good 5 years, for a player that never wanted to be here. For me this is one of the worst moves ever made in Oiler history as it started the spiral towards the bottom.

    I always respected Lubo as a hockey player, but what Lombardi did too Lubo was wrong. Tambeliini tried to right the situation by moving him back to Southern California, but by then the damage to the organisation was done.

    • Spydyr

      This is exactly the problem with Oilers fans, the team needed REAL D MEN not bottom 5 – 6 guys like Greene, here was an opportunity to get a true #2 d man (a guy that came off of being a Norris runner up I believe and they go out and do it at the cost of a 3rd pairing d man and a 3rd line centre and people say this is what set the team back, no no it was not it was the fact the ownership that mothballed an ahl franchise and invested 0 in development which would have been able to produce these dime dozen players that could have replaced stoll and greene.

      This team was full of these “heart and soul” players for decades and what did it get – NOTHING why because you need TALENT as well and talent is a hell of a lot harder to get.

      And to the person who said this is why LA won the cup give your head a shake, I am pretty sure that oh Quick, Doughty, Kopitar, Carter, etc had more to do with it then Stoll and Greene.

      • Maybe the moral of the story is that though the Kings gave up the best player they acquired some assets that made them a better team. Doughty was developing into amongst the bets RHD in the game, which made Visnosky expendable. Maybe a lesson in there somewhere.

      • Greene was young, and it was obvious he was going to me more then a bottom pairing d-man. He was also tough as nails and the type of player that you can count on for honest minutes.

        Lubo was a flashy, skilled player, but not what the Oilers needed. Lowe always had a hard-on for Lubo, and overpayed to get him. It was classic, deer-in-the-headlights post Pronger trade request KLowe, in the midst of his worst GMing of his career.

        Sowed the seeds for the decade of disaster that we are now just emerging from.

      • camdog

        Lubo never wanted to play for the Oilers and everybody knew this before the trade went down. Just like Jeff Carter never wanted to play in Columbus. Trading for a guy that wants nothing to do with your city isn’t a model for success.

        • camdog

          Kevin Lowe made the trade for Lubo days before his no trade clause kicked in. Scott Howson was the GM that traded for Carter, just before his no trade clause kicked in. Not really that surprised that they are both Oiler guys.

      • STIXLER

        “This team was full of these “heart and soul” players for decades and what did it get – NOTHING why because you need TALENT as well and talent is a hell of a lot harder to get.”

        This statement rings so true for me. For the longest time I thought all we needed was some skill to play with these heart and soul guys. We finished just in or out of the playoff so could never draft high enough to get the real skill available. No one would trade the real skilled players for a collection of ‘heart and soul’ because everyone knows skill is harder to get.
        Fast forward to today and its seems like many want to trade our skill guys for the heart and soul players of today.
        I know we dont have the right mix of players to be truely competetive but the irony can not be lost on everyone but me can it.

  • Lubo and Smid played so well together the puck was never in our end, I believe that was the best hockey I even seen Smid play in his career with the oil, so when the Oil traded Lubo we lost more then just one player we lost a tandem.

  • J-Dogg

    You mentioned the elite way he thought saw/thought the game. Whenever I think of lubo, I remember he always seemed to be exactly where he should be positionally either just when he needed to or even a moment before. It seems a small thing to ask of an nhl calibre player, but its amazing how few guys can do it so consistently. It made him a real pleasure to watch.

  • STIXLER

    I remember him good, but if memory serves me correct he was a tad bit slow.

    I think you have him placed well in your 100 list ………this series will get more and more interesting as the countdown continues.

    I suspect there will be a few surprises along the way!

    I love this series.

  • Van isl Oiler

    I loved Visnovsky. When he was traded away for Whitney however, that was a bad trade. Whitney already had his foot issues and Anaheim knew exactly what they were giving us. I knew what Whitney could be if he was healthy and Tambelini was trading for exactly that…what “could” be. Terrible trade…just one of many by Tambelini. Chia Pet will still a few more years undoing the damage. Worst gm the Oilers ever had by far.