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71 Days Until The Season Begins

Cam Lewis
9 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane. Today at No. 71, we have Lubomir Visnovsky, an underrated offensive defenceman who was a part of two big Oilers trades in under two years.
After spending six seasons playing professionally in Slovakia and representing his country at the World Hockey Championship multiple times, Visnovsky was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 2000 NHL draft. At that time, there was no age limit to when players could be drafted, and Visnovsky was one of the oldest players selected in the 2000 class at 24 years of age.
Visnovsky broke into the NHL immediately with the Kings in 2000-01 and scored 39 points over 81 games, good for fourth in Calder Trophy voting and a spot on the league’s All-Rookie Team. He had some strong seasons for the Kings over the next few years but emerged as a top-pairing defender after the lockout season with 67 points over 80 games in 2005-06.
Following another strong season in 2006-07, the Kings inked Visnovsky to a five-year contract extension worth $28 million, but he wound up not playing any of that contract in Los Angeles. Visnovsky had a difficult year on a very bad Kings team in 2007-08 and wound up getting traded to the Oilers in exchange for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene at that summer’s draft.

Edmonton Journal Newspaper Clipping From June 30, 2008.

SEASON COUNTDOWN PRESENTED BY BETWAY


The young and exciting Oilers had come up just shy of making it back into the playoffs in 2007-08 following their implosion in 2006-07 and they decided to shake things up in the off-season. Days after the Visnovsky deal, the Oilers traded Raffi Torres to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Gilbert Brule and Joni Pitkanen to the Carolina Hurricanes for Erik Cole.
Edmonton’s new-look team came flying out of the gates in 2008-09 with four consecutive wins to start the season but that momentum was quickly quelled when the Oilers subsequently dropped five games in a row to finish October.
The Oilers went on an 8-4 run in January and occupied a playoff spot at the end of the month but the team was dealt a significant blow when Visnovsky suffered a shoulder injury in a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in early February.

Edmonton Journal Newspaper Clipping From February 12, 2009.

Visnovsky was quietly putting together a very good season on Edmonton’s blueline. He had 31 points over 50 games, logged 23:01 per night on average, and boasted the second-best shot attempt differential on the team at even strength.
He wound up undergoing season-ending surgery to repair damage to his labrum. The Oilers went 13-13-6 the rest of the way without Visnovsky and again came up short of making the playoffs. Their 38-35-9 record for the season was slightly worse than the 41-35-6 record they had put up in a promising showing the previous year.
The 2009-10 season again started off nicely for the Oilers as they owned a 6-3-1 record after their first 10 games but it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off. They fell below .500 during a mediocre month of November and completely bowed out of the playoff race when they dropped 20 of 21 games in December and January.
By the time the trade deadline rolled around, it was clear the Oilers needed more than just a retool — they needed to lean into a full-on rebuild.


Denis Grebeshkov was sent to the Nashville Predators for a second-round pick, Steve Staois was dealt to the Calgary Flames for Aaron Johnson and a third-round pick, and Visnovsky got moved to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Ryan Whitney and a sixth-round pick.
Whitney was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the fifth-overall pick in the 2002 draft and had been traded to the Ducks the previous season in exchange for winger Chris Kunitz. The 27-year-old made sense for the rebuilding Oilers because he was younger and less expensive than Visnovsky but Whitney carried quite a bit of risk for the team because he suffered from a chronic foot injury.
Whitney’s career with the Oilers started off well. He closed out 2009-10 with 11 points over 19 games and then began the 2010-11 season with 27 points through the team’s first 35 games. Unfortunately, Whitney suffered an ankle injury in a late December game with the Buffalo Sabres and required season-ending surgery. He played 85 games for the Oilers between 2011-12 and 2012-13 before leaving the team in free agency.
Meanwhile, Visnovsky put together the best season of his career with the Ducks in 2010-11, as he scored 68 points over 81 games and finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting. Elsewhere, both Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene helped the Kings win their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2012 and another in 2014. Both players still work for the organization as development coaches.

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