You get the feeling the Edmonton Oilers’ brass could find a good defenseman six feet under. They’re just that good.
Since summer 2000 the Oilers picked up Scott Ferguson, Igor Ulanov, Steve Staios, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Jan Hejda and others for virtually nothing. They’ve also picked up Eric Brewer, Chris Pronger, Jaroslav Spacek, Dick Tarnstrom and others when needed. And when they decide to send a Marc-Andre Bergeron down the line, they cash him in for a Denis Grebeshkov.
It’s too soon to know, but it looks like they’ve got a quality defender who can play a complete game. Russia beckons, he’s not clearly established yet but this feels like a good acquisition and Grebeshkov is going to have a larger role this season. The season’s last 20 games tell us that much.
He plays a smart game, can whack people good, moves the puck efficiently (he isn’t the classy puck mover Gilbert is but this guy is effective) and is signed to a very nice one year deal. Length of contract could be a concern if he delivers a quality season. His splits show just how far he moved up the depth chart and are completely the opposite of Gilbert’s:
- First 36gp: 0-4-4 -9
- Final 35gp: 3-11-14 +11
I think Grebeshkov is going to end up being a key player on the 08-09 club. There’s a window of opportunity the size of the Atlantic ocean for him to have an impact at EVs and he plays a smart, physical game without taking dumb penalties. He’s certainly not perfect, but you can see the potential for the coach to pile on more responsibility and for the player to deliver results. There’s no history of injury, there’s a wide range of skills and he can play LD, which means players like Gilbert, Staios and Visnovsky are candidates for his pairing.
All his arrows are pointed in the right direction.