Reasonable Expectations for 08-09 (Gilbert)

Tom Gilbert is a very nice hockey player, made even more valuable because he came at such a small cost (11 minutes of Tommy Gun).

If this were 1972 we’d read in magazines like HOCKEY WORLD that he “is already an expert at the headman pass and showed exceptional restraint for a rookie” and he is in fact both of those things and more.

Gilbert had a shaky second half of the season as reflected by his splits:

First 41gp: 7-7-14, +3
Second 41gp: 6-13-19, -9

We know from our own collective memories he struggled in the second half but I don’t know how much we can take from that and apply it to the coming season. It’s my guess as many rookie defensemen struggled in the second half as take time to adapt and then find their way. Either way, it was a challenging year but a success by any measure. Let’s take the 7 defensemen on the roster currently at list their NHL even strength time-on-ice in 07-08 (from nhl.com):

  1. Steve Staios 17:52
  2. Tom Gilbert 17:24
  3. Lubomir Visnovsky 16:59
  4. Sheldon Souray 16:04
  5. Ladislav Smid 15:08
  6. Denis Grebeshkov 13:37
  7. Jason Strudwick 11:58

According to Desjardins, Staios, Souray and Gilbert all faced the toughest competition among Oilers defensemen one year ago. The difference came in quality of D partner, with the veterans getting little support and Gilbert getting the best available. Visnovsky was playing against middling opposition in LA and Strudwuck was a depth guy.

Gilbert stands out in this group because of a wide range of skills. Gilbert belongs in the family of puck movers but can also be effective without the puck. He’s an intelligent player who seems perfectly suited to the current NHL style, with his trademark play being a stealth skate in from the blueline to the crease for a tap-in. Guy’s a beauty. His projections are lower than last year based on reduced PP time.

Prediction for 08-09: 82gp, 7-15-22 (.268 per game).

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15 Responses to "Reasonable Expectations for 08-09 (Gilbert)"

  1. Paper Designer says:

    I dunno. At some point, I think it’s got to be acknowledged that Gilbert fits on the first unit powerplay with Visnovsky more than Souray does; he can play the left side, will actually shoot (unlike Pitkanen).

    I’m not convinced that the Oilers will restructure their entire powerplay just to make it work with Visnovksy and Souray at once; these are offensive players who use speed and passing skills, they need guys who will roam.

  2. Schitzo says:

    I think it was Staios who talked about how tough the rookie season can be (in reference to Smid in 06-07, but it still applies).

    He basically said the first 30 games go terrific and you think you’ve got it all figured out. The next 30 games don’t go as well as you start to be left out in a little tougher situations. In the last 20 games you’ve never played so much hockey, you’re exhausted, and you’re making mistakes like crazy.

    I can see how that would especially apply to a kid like Gilbert who only played 60 games in the year prior, and no more than 45 in the 4 years before that. By game 82 the kid was probably just plain tired, probably mentally more than physically.

  3. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    Lowetide: We know from our own collective memories he struggled in the second half but I don’t know how much we can take from that and apply it to the coming season.

    When (mush melon)Jarret Stoll and (still love him)Marty Reasoner are your top two centres against tough opposition, I’d imagine the defense is taking quite a hit. Methinks losing Horcoff had more impact on team-D than even the wealth of inexperience all year. Throw in some expected, imo, rookie fatigue and Gilbert’s second half is no cause for concern.

    Barring injury, cerebral players continue improving their intellectual games till their old legs can’t keep up any more. Since Gilbert is about to enter his peak physical years, I’d say we’re good for a while.
    ;-D

    L8r
    Louise

  4. Dennis says:

    An excellent passer who showed from Game One in SJ that he had the smarts to know when to jump into the play.

    I don’t have a worry about him offensively and, yes, he’d likely be a real two-way player if Shoulder Souray wasn’t here.

    Defensively, he had a great stretch last season where he showed that he could defend and break up plays without having to be physical and that saves a lot of wear and tear on a dman. Then he faltered later on the year and being turning the puck over and making decisions that didn’t jive with his earlier ’08 season body of work.

    I’ll chalk it up as a blip because there’s a lot to like about this guy.

  5. Bank Shot says:

    I don’t see Gilbert getting any reduced PP time this season. He and Grebeshkov are still the best 3rd and 4th options after Souray and Visnovsky on the back end and there is no Jarrett Stoll to take time away from either of them. I think he will still get his 2 minutes a game.

    If the Oilers are really serious about running Souray and Staios out against the best, then Gilbert could concievably see a bump in his numbers as he’ll likely get the chance to wreak havoc with Visnovsky and the kids.

    Seeing his goals totals rise would be pretty unrealistic, but he could be racking up alot of helpers.

  6. Jonathan says:

    He and Grebeshkov are still the best 3rd and 4th options after Souray and Visnovsky on the back end and there is no Jarrett Stoll to take time away from either of them.

    Well, for most of last season there wasn’t any Souray or Visnovsky either…

    One thing about Gilbert is that (according to the numbers, at least) he was a great option on the penalty kill. Only Staios and Souray had a better goal differential per 60 among defenders on a very good shorthanded group.

  7. Paper Designer says:

    And was Gilbert really playing all that much on the first unit powerplay? I seem to remember Pitkanen and Stoll playing ahead of him.

    If anything, I actually see Gilbert’s powerplay time going up.

  8. Traktor says:

    I would say Gilbert has the most offensive instincts out of all our D and when you have players like Hemsky, Gagner, and Nilsson running it you know it’s going to be very creative so it’s probably a good idea to have someone who can read the cross crease tap in play open up before it happens. Gilbert will get his PP time.

    I think he hits around 15 goals 50 points.

  9. Cloned says:

    traktor: 50 points might be a bit on the optimistic side but I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit 35-40.

    I’m not too worried about Gilbert this year. I think he’ll turn out to be one of those extremely consistent guys who always gets 30-40 points every year, with the odd 45-50 point blip here and there.

    Now Grebeshkov – there’s an analysis I can’t wait for LT’s take on.

  10. Big T says:

    I’d love to see TamB (or Tambo, or Tams, or whatever) find a LH shutdown guy to pair w/ Gilbert. I think Gilbert’s offensive ability could thrive in such a scenario.

    Not sure if Souray can be that guy and I love ferrari’s dream of Bouwmeester coming in. That tandem could dominate for years.

    T

  11. Doogie2K says:

    I’d rather see Visnovsky and Souray on separate units, since they both seem to be more effective letting the one-timers fly from the right side. It’s not like this team doesn’t have the offensive talent to have a 1A and a 1B unit, especially if Hemsky is generally on both (and replaced on the Horcoff line by San Fernando for their first shift after a PP, depending on the situation). So I certainly see there being room on a PP for both Gilbert and Grebeshkov, though I dunno if side-swapping would be good or bad for Gilbert’s game (he’s RD according to the Oilers’ site).

  12. Bruce says:

    His projections are lower than last year based on reduced PP time.

    Prediction for 08-09: 82gp, 7-15-22 (.268 per game).

    LT: The thing with Gilbert is he didn’t really rack up many points on the PP anyway.

    33 points — 32nd among defencemen
    9 PPP — 66th
    2 SHP — 10th
    22 ESP — 17th

    If he can reproduce his results at evens he’s already at your projected 22 points, and whether his PP time is reduced or not it’s highly unlikely he’ll post a zero. With Stoll and Pitkanen out and Souray and Visnovsky in, Gilbert (still) projects to the second unit and as Bank Shot says, should still get 2+ minutes a game. If, heaven forbid, something should happen to one of the first unit guys (I won’t mention any names, Dennis), Gilbert is surely the next option to move up to the first team.

    I would say Gilbert has the most offensive instincts out of all our D

    Traktor: I’m guessing you either haven’t watched Visnovsky play much or you don’t yet think of him as one of “ours”. But you’re right, Gilbert has beauty instincts.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: My whole thing is the word “reasonable.” Based only on last season I’d project him to about 30-35 points, but we also need to consider previous seasons and that there’s a chance he will not be a feature D on the PP for the entire season.

    He could exceed this number by plenty, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect him to based on his own established level of ability.

  14. Pat H says:

    LT:

    assuming that your reasonable expectation for Gilbert is on the mark (or near it), I’m left asking – is that level of performance commensurate to his salary?

  15. Lowetide says:

    Pat: I think he’s a good bet, but it isn’t realistic to expect him to take a huge step forward this season. He isn’t 19 like Gagner, the Oilers made every effort to find other defenders who can keep him from getting the quality linemates and opportunities.

    In terms of value though I think Gilbert’s probably worth his contract. It was a little early to sign him but that’s the new NHL.

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