Dan Tencer squawked that Ryan Whitney’s ankle is still giving him considerable enough grief that he’s not able to set a timetable for his return. I’m definitely not a doctor, but when you can’t even put a ‘months’ timetable on something, chances are fair to middling that it’s going to take a little while to iron these sorts of things out.
In the meantime, what can the Oilers do to help put a band-aid on the problem?
Problem: Your best defenceman is likely going to miss a chunk of the season while recovering from an ankle injury sustained in December of 2010.
No solution is as good as having Ryan Whitney playing on the blue in October. But what can be done to help cushion the blow?
- SIGN AN UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT. It’s true, it’s true. The Oilers did acquire Cam Barker and Andy Sutton over the free agency period starting in July. And those are fine pieces if they are going to be used as utility pieces throughout the season. With Whitney gone for any length of time, there’s a good chance that Barker is going to pull 20+ minutes a night, and Andy Sutton already has stolen the keys to your parents’ minivan out of your mom’s purse. Fact of the matter is that you’re going to need A BODY to replace Whitney while he recovers, and while I’m quite sure that A BODY can be found, I don’t think that any of Smid, Peckham, Barker or Sutton is going to be that guy. Gilbert will already be playing first line D minutes, so are you going to throw Petry in for Whitney?
Who’s left? Bryan McCabe, Craig Rivet, Anton Stralman, Steve Staios, and Brett Lebda are the first five available via CapGeek. (Stralman’s only 25, guys. Probably could pick him up on the cheap).
As far as free agents go, doing SOMETHING is better than doing NOTHING at this point. As much as I’d like to put good faith into the reserves that we have, there’s something about the third pair of Chorney and Sutton that doesn’t quite resonate with me.
- TRADE FOR A DEFENCEMAN. You know who’s got too many defencemen for their own good? Buffalo has TOO MANY defencemen (7 on active roster, 8 if you count Marc-Andre Gragnani). They just spent the farm on Christian Ehrhoff (and $11M on Andrej Sekera), and they’ve got eight defencemen and about $4M in cap that they need to get rid of in the next few weeks. This is the time where the Oilers can slip in somewhat under the radar and offer something that’s not of high monetary value (a mid-late pick in 2012) that will help Buffalo unload a defenceman (Shaone Morrisonn?) that won’t take the place of Whitney, but wouldn’t be a disaster in a pinch. Again, it’s not a permanent solution, but something is better than nothing.
- Doing ‘nothing’ would be bad. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be good either. I’ve gone on record saying that I don’t think it would be awful if Petry made the club outright. When it’s at the expense of Ryan Whitney, there’s going to be some issues. The fact of the matter is that the club can ill afford to lose Whitney for any significant amount of time, and if nothing is done to help absorb his loss, an enormously large amount of pressure is going to be bestowed upon an already thin corps.
The Oilers needed a defenceman before it became apparent that Ryan Whitney’s ankle wasn’t healed. Now that we’re all but certain he’s going to miss time, it becomes glaringly obvious. Really, a couple would help. A few bucks at a guy like Anton Stralman or Chris Campoli, and a trade under the radar might not make this defence a powerhouse operative, but it will compete every night.
Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do.
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