Wednesday, November 16, 2011
What To Do With The Oilers Blueline
With news coming out of Oilers camp that Cam Barker will be out of action for the next four weeks and Ryan Whitney at least ten days away from returning, has the time come for the team to look outside the organization to bolster the blueline?
Heading into the season, it was very apparent that the club needed to upgrade their backend and hope that they would receive much better goaltending, if they wanted to have a legitimate chance at being in the mix for a playoff spot at seasons end. The play of their goaltenders has been night and day compared to last season and to this point, the Oilers defence has clearly over achieved. The addition of Corey Potter has been a god-send for this club and the play of Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid has been nothing short of outstanding. That being said, the smoke and mirrors routine that this group has been able to pull off thus far, seems to have run its course. Even with Barker and Whitney in the mix, the clubs defence isn't good enough but the current group of Gilbert, Smid, Potter, Theo Peckham, Andy Sutton and Jeff Petry is simply inadequate.
I have little doubt that Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk will continue to give this team a chance to win games on a nightly basis so the ball is now in GM Steve Tambellini's court to decide what to due moving forward. Does he now seriously look at making a move to upgrade the blueline or does he stand pat and see if the current group can hold the fort until closer to the trade deadline. In my mind, if they wait much longer, the chance at competing for that playoff spot come March and April is very unlikely.
Tambellini has no need to look at adding a depth guy to the backend because the Oilers already have those players in house. They need to add a legitimate top four defenceman and one that can preferably move the puck. He doesn't have to be an offensive minded guy but he has to be able to transition the puck out of his end. Edmonton have parts, at their disposal, that they could use in a deal that other organizations would have interest in. The Oilers are now that team that has to look at not only moving players like an Ales Hemsky or Sam Gagner in a deal but seriously consider including draft picks and/or prospects to get the job done. There are always teams willing to move good players that earn a hefty pay cheque that won't necessarily handicap your organizations salary cap long term. The question is, if Steve Tambellini and company have reached the point where they have the appetite for making such a move.