The Edmonton Oilers badly need a top four defenceman and with the club having three blueliners go down with injuries on Friday night, the lack of NHL ready help within the organization is very apparent. Even if the Oilers had a healthy Ryan Whitney to start the season, they would have their challenges on the backend. With the sudden rash of injures it may be time for the organization to look at what might be available via trade. Some would say this would be a panic move but I am proposing they look at making a move for the long term betterment of the club, not a short term fix.
If I had my druthers, the man I would be making a serious attempt to obtain is Tim Gleason. In my mind, the Carolina Hurricane defender is a top pairing material and goes unnoticed by many because he plays in Raleigh. Gleason is tough as nails, logs a ton of minutes, plays in all situations and the big man actually moves the puck pretty well. The former Los Angeles King has never reached his potential offensively but he has turned out to be one helluva stay at home defenceman. The 28 year old, enters the 2011-2012 season in the last year of a four year deal that paid him a total of $11 million. With the Canes already having both Tomas Kaberle and former Oiler Joni Pitkanen signed for two more years at $4 million plus, they may not have room to give Gleason the bump in salary that he will be seeking in order to stay in Carolina. Would GM Jim Rutherford entertain an offer from Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini, of Ales Hemsky for Gleason and a draft pick? Some would say this would be a huge overpayment by Edmonton, I would disagree.
Obviously this type of move would depend on, I would imagine, both players signing with their new team but it would be a good fit for both clubs. While Hemsky has been a great Oiler and is a highly skilled player, I do not think getting a top pairing shut down guy and a pick as a poor return for the talented Czech. Hemsky would be a godsend for the Canes and one would think, it would be almost impossible to wipe the smile that Eric Staal would have on his face. No doubt, it would be a move that Rutherford would seriously have to consider.
From the Oilers standpoint, this is the type of move that needs to be made, if they want to improve in short order. They can't keep making moves for prospects and picks all the time. At some point, they have to make the decision to improve their team now and not three years from now. Acquiring a player like Gleason would make Edmonton a different club in their own end, especially with a healthy Ryan Whitney. This is the sort of move that would have an immediate impact but still leave the organization the ability to move another forward, later this year or next off season, to acquire more help on the blueline. The only way this team will get better is by bringing in quality defencemen and until they are ready to take that risk, they will struggle in mediocrity.