WWYDW: Eric Gryba out for a month

62-Gryba-4

The debate over whether the Edmonton Oilers should trade away pending free agent Eric Gryba would appear to be over. On Wednesday, the team announced that Gryba would miss a month after suffering a knee injury, and while he’ll still be back before the playoffs it’s doubtful another NHL team wants to bring in a third-pair defenceman coming off a long-term injury if there are other options.

In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask how the Oilers should manage the blue line over the remainder of the season.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The First Question

19-Schultz-1

The loss of Gryba leaves Edmonton with six healthy defencemen on the roster, and one or more of that half-dozen may well be dealt before the trade deadline. The list is as follows, in order of likelihood of some kind of move:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • LD Darnell Nurse. A fast, physical blue-chip rookie. He would seem to be a Chiarelli-type player. 
  • LD Andrej Sekera. An effective veteran signed just this past summer. It would be a major shock if he was dealt.
  • LD Brandon Davidson. A polished rookie who is a legitimate success story for the team’s drafting/developing groups. It’s hard to see how moving him would make sense.
  • RD Mark Fayne. A limited but useful veteran brought in by the previous G.M. on a pricey contract. He might be moved, but the money is problematic.
  • RD Adam Clendening. Waiver acquisition hasn’t carved out a role yet. It’s hard to imagine he has trade value.
  • RD Justin Schultz. A mobile right-shooting defenceman who can pass on an expiring deal. It would be a surprise if he wasn’t dealt. 

Our first question is this: Barring further injuries, how many of that group of six should see steady use down the stretch and after the deadline? In other words, which of them should be sent out either via trade or minor-league demotion?

Second Question

8-Reinhart-2

For teams outside the playoff race, the post-deadline period is often an opportunity to experiment with prospects and line combinations for the coming season. That should certainly be the case for the Oilers, who have some interesting names in the minor-league system and who may want to give some of their prospects a test-run in the majors. 

Edmonton has six defencemen in the minors who might plausibly be recall options. The list is as follows, ranked based on what I would guess is the level of likelihood:

  • Griffin Reinhart. The 2012 No. 4 pick was acquired via trade over the summer and has been recalled multiple times this year. He is a left shot who has played both sides of the ice. 
  • David Musil. The 2011 No. 31 pick is in his third AHL season and nearing the end of his waiver exemption. He hasn’t played in the NHL since a four-game cameo last year. He’s big, smart and physical but skating has been an issue all down the line. 
  • Jordan Oesterle. The undrafted college free agent is in his second AHL season and (I believe) has another year of waiver exemption. He hasn’t played in the NHL since a six-game cameo last year. He’s smart, fast and has an offensive dimension, but lacks size and has defensive shortcomings.   
  • Brad Hunt. An undrafted college free agent, Hunt is now 27 and in his fourth full AHL season. He got a seven-game stint as an offensive specialist and would be a plausible No. 7 defenceman. 
  • Nikita Nikitin. Signed as an NHL veteran, Nikitin has played his way out of the team’s plans and outside of a seven-game cameo has mostly been stuck in the minors. He’s a possible recall mainly as a press-box body. 
  • Dillon Simpson. The 2011 No. 92 pick is in his second AHL season and has another year of waiver exemption. He has never played in the NHL. He’s a smart two-way defender without gaudy AHL numbers or a standout skill. 

The second question here is this: Which of these players should find their way to Edmonton before the end of the year?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

If It Were Up To Me

87-Musil-2

If it were up to me, the only player heading off down the line would be Schultz. Clendening has no value, while Fayne’s contract means likely means taking something financially nasty back in trade and the majority of those players are going to be less effective than the veteran shutdown defenceman Edmonton already has. 

The player I want to see is Musil, who is in many ways in a similar situation to Davidson a year ago. Davidson ended up being surprisingly effective, and it would be nice to get a read on Musil before making a waiver decision on him. 

I’d be inclined to leave Reinhart in the minors for the duration, both so that he can get into a rhythm with Bakersfield in anticipation of a lead role in the playoffs and to save on cap space, given that Edmonton is close enough to the ceiling that there would seem to be a chance of some rookie bonuses being deferred to next year. 

With that decided, that gives Edmonton two options: either give Clendening a legitimate chance to show something (which probably means recalling Brad Hunt to be the press box guy at some point) or give Oesterle a shot and stick Clendening in the press box. I’m not a big believer in Clendening, but he probably deserves a fair shake and in any event both Gryba and Oscar Klefbom will likely be back at some point, which will probably keep the Oilers from needing to bring up either Hunt or Oesterle.

The other thing I’d want to see is Davidson playing on the right side for a while, just to see if it’s workable for next season. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Eventually, that would leave the following units:

  • Sekera / Davidson
  • Nurse / Fayne
  • Musil / Clendening
  • Hunt (press box) 

But that’s my view. Now we once again turn decision-making over to our readers. Our three-part question is as follows: 

  1. Of the six healthy defencemen currently on the roster, who should be gone by the deadline?
  2. Of the Oilers’ recall possibilities, who do you want to see?
  3. Taking the first two questions into account, what six-man unit do you think best serves the Oilers’ long-term objectives?

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    1. Schultz should be gone for whatever pick or prospect you can get.

    2. I wouldn’t mind seeing what Oesterle can do

    3. Oesterle can replace Schultz in an offensive role and Musil can replace Gryba in a steady shut down role. Strictly 3rd pairing minutes.

    Additionally I would sign Gryba to a 2-year extension no more than 1.8-2M range.

  • Jay (not J)

    Sheesh. Whatever they do they should do it while holding their noses. This ugly ugly defence keeps getting worse. It’s getting to be comical – or was that 2013?

  • Ryan14

    RD Justin Schultz. A mobile right-shooting defenceman who can pass on an expiring deal. It would be a surprise if he wasn’t dealt.

    Still calling Schultz a good passer?

    Good idea. We don’t want people realizing that his only asset is a facade.

      • Jay (not J)

        He often passes on the opportunity to have a positive impact for the Oilers. You know I’ve never seen him on the bench after one of his brainless plays looking even the least bit upset with himself. The guy’s not just a bad hockey player – he’s a sociopath.

  • freelancer

    Don’t want to jack the post (although it kind of fits in here). I was talking to a buddy and we were trying to come up with the best right hand defensemen the oilers have had. Going back 15 years we were left with Gilbert, Petry and Mironov.

    Anyone else come to mind as being better than those 3?

  • freelancer

    Honestly I think Peter needs to give Laleggia a shot. Look how Gostisbehere is doing in Philly. I think he’s ready for a call up and he’s probably the best PP option in Bakersfield regardless of the size or weight.

    • toprightcorner

      Laleggia has been playing on the wing for the past 2 months and that is where a majority of his points have come from so don’t be fooled by his stats. He won’t be brought up to play defense and won’t get a sniff until they decide if he will be a forward or a dman.

  • Jay (not J)

    I would leave Reinhart in the AHL, where he is at a skill level to be an average defender.

    He was a waste of two draft choices, and hopefully the Oilers learn a lesson to do due diligence before making another stupid mistake.

    • 916oiler

      The Oilers have Bob Green that pushed for this trade and is very familiar with Reinhart, so the due diligence was there.

      The logic behind this was they wanted a Defensemen that can help in the near future. The 16th overall pick was used on Matthew Barzal; a small scoring winger who is a few years away.

      The fanbase shouldn’t run Reinhart out of town based on what was given up for him. This trade is still a few years away before you can call it a “stupid mistake”

  • Jay (not J)

    Well, this sucks. If Oilers were in 24th or 25th overall, with the amount of injuries they are having I would say offload all the dead weight contracts, free up some cap space, and drop a bit in the standings to acquire a better draft pick.

    However, here we are. PC has his work cut out, he should know what to change and how to change it. We will see come off season or trade deadline.

    Bring up some farm boys and see what we should keep or not as well, evaluation time is over at the end of the season hopefully.

  • mithaman

    Re-sign Gryba provided he is less than $2.5M/year on a 2-3 year deal. He has been very solid for us this year and gives us much need grit and experience on the blue line. Exactly the kind of player we need as we re-build the worst defense corps in the league.

  • Jay (not J)

    How to manage the blue Line? What a question!!!! Not much you can do with the material available.
    What’s the deal with Buddy from the Islanders???
    The whole Team need some Head shaking. Not sure what was/is worst this year or last year?

  • toprightcorner

    Again, all of this is on the incompetent Chiarelli.
    He should have long since dealt with the Oiels defense.
    Like last summer.
    Hall should have flushed out for OEL.

    as well as heartless players like RNH and Eberle for competent denfensemen.

    If Columbus can flush out their garbage for competent defensemen surely the Oliers can.

    Instead Chiarelli does nothing

      • toprightcorner

        The last five years speak for themselves.
        These are fundamentally useless forwards, inured to losing, never play winning hockey.
        Last night’s game was a classic example.
        One team prevailed via better coaching and a functional defense.

        The real tragedy is that Chiarelli does nothing.
        All year has been wasted , totally wasted.
        Real fans have spent real money and have been utterly abused by this incompetent.
        He wallows in indolence.

        As I pointed out earlier, even woeful Columbus had the will to flush out the heartless gutless Johansen and got in return for him a functional defenseman. It can be done.
        Columbus has turned their season around.
        Of course, they have a coach that actually demands an effort consistently from this players, something MacLelland has failed to do, see the debacle of two weekends ago.

        As always, the play is to fire Chiarelli and MacLelland asap.

        The rest is all a distraction,until a competent GM is finally installed.

        By the way, brace yourselves for the Oilers keeping Schultz , Chiarelli is that incompetent.

        • toprightcorner

          Clearly common sense is not common for you if you think Chairelli should be fired for not trading core players away.

          Chairelli is doing exactly what any quality, experienced GM with a plan does. Add a few players to start then patiently wait and see for yourself what the core players are like and if they fit into your plan.

          If they fit, you keep them, if you don’t, you look to trade them in the summer when it is much easier to make significant trades and you can also sign FA’s to fill some holes.

          Only a fool goes in, changes everything in his first 6 months without truly understanding what he has.

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      I doubt Arizona would abandon their plan of building around OEL by trading him for Hall.

      #1 d-men in the league are worth more than an elite winger.

  • Seanaconda

    I remember Musil from last year and I must say his “lack of speed”, in my mind was over exaggerated, or that he made up for it using sound positioning.

    I recall people saying the same about Davidson……that he was too slow to be able to process the NHL game…..not too many people are saying that now.

    The one thing that does surprise me is that Dillion Simpson is so rarely talked about…….not sure what is holding this guy back??

    If I were PC I would make sure that the defenceman cupboard is filled at this year’s draft. Let the cream rise to the top.

  • toprightcorner

    Firstly, I think it may be a good thing that Gryba got hurt and took out any possibility of a deadline deal.

    Schultz has a 99% chance of being dealt at the deadline.

    Unless a contending team has an injury, Fayne won’t be going anywhere because he has a year left in his contract and it doesn’t make sense for the Oilers to take on part of his salary when they don’t have anyone who can take his spot on RD.

    You have to give Clendening a shot to see if he is worth resigning or not.

    I would say bring up Musil but He is a LD and the hole is on RD.

    If Davidson moves to RD then he should be on 3rd line for 5-6 games

    If Reinhart was showing well i would bring him up but he still has lots of holes so best to leave him where he is.

  • Seanaconda

    1)

    Trade Schultz for a prospect or a pick. I hope they hang onto Fayne until they have a clear upgrade in mind.

    2)

    I would give Musil a look because of the waiver factor. Let Reinhart prove he can dominate the AHL (this trade is already looking like a failure; hopefully he can show well and be moved along in the summer)

    3)

    Sekera / Fayne
    Nurse / Davidson
    Musil / Clendening
    Hunt (press box)

    We will get killed with this D down the stretch. Hurry back Klefbom!

    • toprightcorner

      Prospects and draft picks are utterly useless.
      Why do you think this re-build has lasted a decade?
      A succession of incompetent GMS who value “picks” over actual NHL players.
      Schultz should have been traded last summer.
      Ference adn Nikitin should have been bought out.
      Hall, RNH and Eberle flushed out for a functional defense.
      But nothing happened.
      We are again the worst team in the league.

      How can any of you rationalize for Chiarelli?

      He has wasted his turn.
      He only cared about cashing cheques not actually working.

      • toprightcorner

        Teams are built and supported by picks and prospects more so then ever in the cap era. Picks are also liquid currency to be used in the summer to acquire actual NHL players.

        Yes, Schultz should’ve been traded earlier. They extended him, even though the deal was horrible, to keep control of the asset.

        Buying out players cripples your cap situation when the team is actually good. We were going to suck no matter what this year, no point crippling the future books.

        Not sure what you mean by flushing Hall, Nuge, and Ebs… I would deal Ebs for a solid D but not the other two. There are other solutions to fix the D problem (2016 1st/2nd, wingers, D prospects, etc.)

        Chiarelli is doing pretty good so far. As long as he doesn’t pull a ‘Seguin trade’ to fix the D we will be okay. We finally have a bonafide GM/coach and MacT/KLowe aren’t involved day-to-day… you really want change on that front?

      • R U Kidding Me!

        Mitchy,
        Shake your head!! You hear anything?? I did not think so!! If you are handed a company (or a team) that has been run into the ground, throughout system! Scouting, drafting, development, coaching, managing that was severely miss managed for a decade and you took over how would you do?? Chie will right this ship, it will take a few years!! Better throughout the “business” has to happen!! Wow your lack of understanding on how the real world works is amazing!! Get your head out of your !!!! And realize what process has to take place!!! Trade anyone right now and it’s like trading with our 65 cent dollar!! We will not get what we deserve!! Crap this year is just trying to change a culture of losing!! From there things will improve!! Figure it out

  • toprightcorner

    Chiarelli you SUCK!!!

    You gave 2 2nd round picks for Brett Connolly while with Boston and then you gave a 1st and a 2nd for a horrible defenseman!!!

    Looks like Chabot is going to make the Senators next year. Oilers could have had him or Noah Juulsen…

  • toprightcorner

    For the Rest of the season:

    Sekera – Davidson (after 5 gms on 3rd pair)
    Nurse – Fayne
    Musil – Clendening
    Hunt

    If Musil struggles bring up Oesterle after 10 games.

    Oilers need more experienced dmen and cant have so many with less than 200 games.

    Next season:

    Sekera – new
    Klefbom – new (PP QB)
    Nurse – Gryba
    Reinhart

    Trade for 1 RD of: Harmonic, Vatanen, John Carlson, Shattenkirk
    Sign 1 of: Yandle, Demers, Russel, Gologoski,

    Davidson used in trade package for more experienced dman. Too many with under 100 games and has best value other than Nurse.

    Fayne traded or bought out

    Add as many RD prospects as possible.

      • toprightcorner

        firstly I don’t want to toss Davidson, he is a good player, but he is behind Sekera, Klefbom and Nurse on the “keep” list. Since he is a quality prospect that can play NHL minutes now, he is an attractive piece to use to get a top pairing RD. Most likey a team giving up that player wants a dman prospect in return, as Snow wants for Harmonic.

        If he plays on the right side and plays well then you can consider tuning him to a RD, so you try him there.

        I still think if you could get a PP QB to play 2nd pair RD that would be better than converting Davidson to fill in RD.

        It would also be beneficial to not have 4 players on the back end with under 100 NHL games.

        Davidson will get you the best bang for your buck if trading for a top dman.

        • Seanaconda

          But if you wanna trade him why not put him where you know he will succeed? Boost his trade value or whatnot. Cuz if he crashes hard playing the right side that is what other gms will remember him doing if that’s how he finishes his year.

          • Randaman

            Exactly, kind of.

            Davidson is a rookie that has had a pretty good season considering he has had to play above his pay grade. Why do Oiler fans always go into panic mode and want to move players out of the position they are succeeding at?? This is beyond me.

            Leave him on the left side and keep him. He will be an inexpensive piece moving forward

          • Seanaconda

            Agree exept we do have too many left side dmen so I think we should actually see if any of them are decent at all at playing the right side. But I wouldn’t play them right side if I was trying to showcase them for a trade.

          • Seanaconda

            I feel like we agree with eachother hahah but we should audition sekera nurse davidson or reinhart on the right side to see if one can play it . Not for a trade but just for balance. If one of them excels on their off wing it’s basically one less trade we need to make.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Not that we were going to trade him since he’s actually been the most steady d man we got but it’s always this time of year that mysteriously all our players mentioned in trade rumours go downtown injuries makes you go mmmmmmm started way back with hemsky. Let’s see who’s next I bet Shultz just wait and see. People

  • R U Kidding Me!

    The bright side to this injury is it guarantees Gryba doesn’t get traded.

    To continue from my last post he also sticks up for teammates and wants to stay in Edmonton. He’s a keeper.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      I think that even the Islanders’ GM would say Good Lord Pete, that is way too much of an overpayment, especially since Okposo is a UFA after this season.

      Also, if you know a GM who would trade their top defenseman for a draft pick that could easily be in the #7,8,9 or 10 spot, would you please give his name to Chiarelli.