Current Rank: 3
Summer 2007 Rank: 4
Tom Gilbert will turn 25 in January. He’s an NHL player, and really doesn’t belong on this list. However, he won’t play his 50th NHL game until later this year so despite being 6 years and 7 months older than Sam Gagner he’s on my list.
Gilbert imo is the ideal player-type for the new “headman pass” NHL. He’s good enough defensively to be very effective in all areas, plus he can carry the puck and pass it very effectively. Extremely skilled, calm feet, has size and brains. I remember the day EDM acquired him, I was driving into work and Bryn Griffiths mentioned his name as the guy coming back from the Avs for Tommy Salo. I was kind of surprised they got a warm body instead of a pick for a goalie who appeared to be running out the string, but I guess GMs never know about goalies either.
Gilbert had an excellent final season at Wisconsin, scoring a mammoth goal for his team. One hopes he can one day bookend it with a goal for the Oilers to win the Stanley.
In looking at Oiler rookie seasons by defensemen over the years, Gilbert’s season offensively looks like it’ll be among the best we’ve seen. He’s at 26gp, 3-5-8 which over an entire season would put him around 25 points, and that would slot him on a list of the very best offensive rookie seasons for Oiler defensemen.
I don’t know where you’d slot him on a healthy Oilers depth chart. Of the defensemen who have played 10 games or more with the Oilers, his -1 ranks him best in plus minus. Even with Pitkanen, Staios, Souray, Tarnstrom and Greene healthy, I think Tom Gilbert is one of the 4 best options on this team.
The one thing he is unlikely to do (and Cogliano and Gagner should do) is improve markedly from where he is today.