Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oilers Defense 2012

Everyone in the world should know by now that the Oilers are in the market for a high end, preferably top pairing Dman. The depth chart shows that the Oilers are chalk full of lower pairing defenders that would feel more comfortable playing against lesser opponents. Let's have a look at the depth chart as it stands now:


- I have Smid-Petry as the defacto top pairing. The pairing that is best equipped to start the season playing the toughs. Perhaps a little light on experience but have the mobility and toughness to handle all shapes and sizes. A regression by either of these two would likely mean the Oilers would be in a world of hurt next season.
- I have Whitney-J.Schultz as the 2nd pairing. Might be overall a bit erratic defensively but will push the pace more offensively rather than bumping N.Schultz to play in the top 4 and then potentially have 2, maybe 3, perhaps all 4 not pissing a drop offensively. Oilers need more offense from the D, even if it costs them a bit defensively. The Oilers can't have another season where their top defender only gets 25 points and expect them to get better. This is where the Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz deal hurts them for the present time. Tom Gilbert is better offensively for the time being but will likely get pushed out by the likes of J.Schultz and Fedun over time.
- I have N.Schultz and Fedun as the third pairing. A typical experienced/rookie pairing. A pairing that is mobile but short on toughness and aggression. This is where a player likely Sutton or Peckham could fill in depending on matchups. As long as Fedun can regain most of his mobility after his serious leg injury, he should get a good long look to make the club out of training camp, especially since the Oilers need mobility and all thats really in his way is Corey Potter.

Now my reasoning on why the Oilers are in the market for a defensemen but haven't made a move yet is because they are looking for something very specific, a right handed two way defender that can play big minutes. That's why Shea Weber made all kinds of sense and even at his price point, would still make the Oilers a playoff calibre team. The Oilers are sniffing around the likes of Jay Bouwmeester and Keith Yandle, but neither quite fit the way Weber would have and both are left handed shots. The depth chart would have taken on a kaleidoscope type turn and looked like this:


Now, that's a defense that's ready to roll. A good blend of offense and defense, Weber would elevate Whitney's game to the point where he could just be himself. Instead, the Oilers are left with trying to acquire a Dman through trade and to be honest, its going to be a tough find. Zach Bogosian and John Carlson are two defenders that have top pairing upside but are darn near impossible to pry out of their organizations. The Oilers, for now, are stuck in a holding pattern and will have to wait for another train like Weber to come by. It's the kind of thing that happens when you draft forwards in the first round over and over again.

One more thing to think about is what kind of value Ladislav Smid would have in getting that top pairing Dman. If the Oilers can think Theo Peckham can return to his 2010/2011 form, perhaps Smid might be the piece to move that might get them that top pairing, right handed Dman. The Oilers are setup to have a 3-for-1 deal. They have a pleathora of forwards and D. They have their harpoons out, its whale hunting season.

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