Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Well I wrote a eulogy for Ales Hemsky and then they went and signed him. I guess I should have written one for Tom Gilbert as well. Maybe they would not have traded him.
I liked Tom Gilbert from day one. I went out to Edmonton in November of 2007 as part of my fortieth birthday year and Andy Grabia and I checked out a game between the Oilers and another bottom feeder (though by design), the Blackhawks. The Oilers dressed a bunch of hotshot kids - Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson - and the Hawks countered with Toews, Kanes and a bunch of unknowns (at that point in time). Oilers won in a shootout, thanks to Shawn Horcoff who flew in and buried it, nice and easy.
Tom Gilbert snuck onto the roster that fall, thanks partially to injuries and partially to his own outstanding play in camp. He got the opportunity and never looked back. From day one he was a player. That's the way I described him. Like Hall or Ted or Petry or Eberle he just looked like a hockey player. He made mistakes, because all hockey players do, and a puck carrying and puck moving defenceman is going to make a lot more than a bang it off the glass and out guy, but he could skate and he was smooth and he never looked like, say, Matt Greene or Theo Peckham, at sea amongst the men who play in the NHL.
He was durable as hell and played through injuries and while he wasn't a thumper and as a result was never a fan favourite, he was a good defenceman from day one and this year was finally recognized for what he has been for a while now, a quality top pairing guy, taking on the toughs, starting in his own zone, and basically sawing off game after game. With Ladi Smid he gave the Oilers a true top pairing for the first time in years.
When Stauffer started floating the idea that Petry's emergence made Gilbert expendable we should have known something was up, no matter how dumb the idea was. As I said last week you have to keep your good players and the idea that a kid (who I like a lot by the way) with a handful of games under his belt suddenly makes your best defenceman expendable, well, that's dumb. Especially when you throw in Whitney's health issues.
Keep your good players, right? Should be the name of this blog.
Nick Schultz isn't magic beans so I guess that's a step forward from the usual return the Oilers get for their experienced quality players. Where he is right now varies on who you talk to, its possible he is a top pairing shutdown guy, its possible he is a 4 and slipping. He can play the right side so I presume he will slip in with Whitney and Smid will carry the mail for young Petry for now. I don't hate hate hate the trade but its still not a good trade.
If Whitney is healthy and if Petry does not regress then the Oilers have a legit top four. I would have preferred keeping Gilbert and acquiring a Schultz type for magic beans, more depth is better than less you know, but oh well.
I'll miss Tom Gilbert but more important the trade is another loss on a club that is so thin that it can't afford a loss. Gilbert is a better Dman than Schultz, no matter what Marc Crawford or the other talking heads think. Oh and when is Terry Jones going to retire anyhow?
So if you trade a Dman who is a top pairing guy who can also add offence and on top of that blocks more shots and hits more (if you believe those stats matter) than the guy you're bringing in then, sadly its a loss which means the club is weaker than it was before.
And the whole idea is to get better, right?
Welcome to Nick Schultz. Oilers got themselves a good player, just not as good as the guy heading the other way.
Good luck Tom Gilbert. Enjoyed watching you these past years, certainly one of the few bright spots on this dismal franchise. A guy who came in and did his job and did it well, night in and night out. A very good hockey player.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:00 PM