Can we get this Nik instead? Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Go Get Me A Defenceman.

It took until the 4th, but the big fish are off the table.

Both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter landed in Minnesota, while Matt Carle chose the sunny skies of Tampa Bay.

Oilers:  go and to get an NHL defenceman.  Right now.  Grab the phone and call someone.

Oh, I’m not too particular on how you get one.  At least with all of the big fish gone, you can scratch a $7M free agent off your list.   Go on and trade for one, like Nik Hjalmarsson over here.    He’s not going to win any scoring awards next year, but he is a real, live NHL defenceman.  He can probably play 70 or 80 games next year if healthy.  I beat the defence drum in January, and I’m not about to stop now.

THIS TEAM JUST SIGNED JUSTIN SCHULTZ, IT’S GOING TO BE BETTER, WHY ARE YOU SO OBSESSED WITH DEFENCE?

About a month ago, we took a look at the current defence and saw that it needed help.  You think Justin Schultz alone is going to save the defence alone?  Let’s take a look at what Edmonton had dressed for the last game of the 2011-12 season versus Vancouver.

Image courtesy EdmontonOilers.com

There are THREE players on this roster that I feel comfortable taking on a full time role right now.  They are (in no particular order…)

  • Smid
  • Nick Schultz
  • Petry

Anyone else not on this list is a question mark.

Could everything go right?  Sure, but it’s not likely.  Could everything go wrong?  Sure, but again, everything going wrong isn’t likely either.  I’m not a math major, but an easy way to help alleviate worries is to eliminate the possibility of things to go wrong.  

Let’s look at the question marks.

  • Ryan Whitney:  I like Whitney.  I didn’t love the trade he arrived in on, but Whitney was just dandy before his ankle injury suffered in December, 2010.  He missed the remainder of 2010-11 after suffering his ankle injury, and hasn’t looked 100% since.  Ankle injuries are pretty tough to recover from, so I understand if he hasn’t looked perfect.
  • Corey Potter:  rode the wave with the rest of the team as they marched out to a 9-3-2 start to the 2011-12 season.  Played in 62 games after playing in just 9 combined over the previous three seasons.  Finished with 21 points.  A decent 5/6 option.
  • Andy Sutton:  again, is a decent 5/6 option when he plays.  Suspensions got the best of him for 13 games last year, and a groin injury for another seven.
  • Theo Peckham:  had 3 points in 54 games played, and was eighth overall among Oiler defencemen in time on ice (not quite 14 minutes per game).
  • Justin Schultz (not pictured) has 0 games played at this time.  I hope he comes along and helps the defence immediately, but with a big fat zero NHL contests to go on, it’s difficult to slot him.

So from these five question marks, I have five questions.

  • Is Whitney 100%?
  • Corey Potter has just 71 career games played.  Will he continue his 20 point performance, or will he regress to a norm?
  • Is Andy Sutton going to keep from getting suspended for lengths of time?
  • Is Theo Peckham going to play a useful role on the 2012-13 Edmonton Oilers?
  • Is Justin Schultz ready to be thrown into the fire?

Because injuries can tend to be freakish in nature, I haven’t used ‘injuries’ as an excuse.  (Exception to Whitney, his ankle is a pre-existing condition).  Adding a steady hand (check out his numbers)  in Hjalmarsson won’t cost too awful much ($3.5M cap for two years), and it will help alleviate ONE of those five questions.

The Oilers have two or three legit top four guys, and a lot more third line choices.

Factor injuries into the equation, and your selection thins out pretty quick.

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