One of the underrated moves by Steve Tambellini this summer was the one-year deal for Denis Grebeshkov. He took a big step forward and the former GM would probably have paid in full at that time. Tambellini no doubt sees a need to offload someone this year before signing the Russian to a longer term deal at big money. It gives the organization a chance to have another year of viewing and to clear space at a less rapid pace (like they have any choice).
Grebeshkov had a very good season and if he does it again he’s going to get paid. The number one reason Sheldon Souray or Lubomir Visnovsky will be traded in the next 12 months is #37. He’s 25, has a wide range of skills and looks for all the world to have arrived as an NHL player. He may have monkeywrenched the 00′s, but it was one of Kevin Lowe’s better deals.
- Boxcars: 72gp, 7-32-39 38pims
- Shots: 62
- Plus Minus: +12 (best on team)
- Corsi: +2.6 (2nd best behind Lubo)
- 5×5/60: 1.23 (close 2nd to Gilbert)
- 5×4/60: 3.75 (close 2nd to Gilbert)
- GF/GA ON: 61-45 (best diff. on team)
- Quality of competition: 5th toughest among D
- Quality of pairing: best available
- Cap hit (capgeek): 3.15M
- What do these numbers tell us? Like Gilbert, Grebeshkov’s numbers in this single season are better than the veterans (Lubo, Souray) and if he can do it for another 150 games then we’ll be talking about an exceptional player. Specifically his numbers at even strength (5-21-26) are really good and combined with his wide range of ability (he appears to be better suited to the defensive side of the game and the lapses he had earlier are becoming less of an issue) the sky’s the limit at this point.
- How could these numbers be better? I don’t really have an answer. The things that come to mind with this player are “can he do it again?” and “how come there aren’t more good Russian defensemen?” but he can play a physical game and can move the puck and he can play big minutes. Not a lot to bitch about here.
- What about injury? An ankle injury cost him 7 games and a concussion cost him 3. It’s something that comes with the position: defensemen get hurt, they just do. I don’t think it’s a huge concern aside from “occupational hazard” that impacts all blue. They miss games, they have shorter careers, it’s always been thus.
- What about a trade? After dealing Matt Greene I think the Oilers will hang on to the young ones like Gilbert, Grebeshkov and Peckham. If they do trade the guy then a very good talent would need to come back in return. The only thing holding his value back is that NHL teams would want to see him duplicate the season past so the Oilers might as well keep him.
- Will Quinn play him against tough competition? MacT didn’t and Grebs flourished. One of the things we need to agree on is that his plus minus (team best) and quality numbers came in calmer waters. Grebeshkov can probably face tougher competition but Quinn has plenty of established options. Then again, I think he’ll love Grebeshkov. The Russian likes to hit, he can move the puck, his coverage is much better and his spaz number went way down. He’s good.
- How important is Grebeshkov to this team? That’s what this season (and the short contract) are about to tell us. If he flourishes again and repeats the season past, then the Oilers would probably look at a Gilbert-style deal to lock him up for a time. If he gets injured or struggles then we’re back to do (doe).
- Oh, those Russians Why don’t they have more quality defenders? It’s silly. The Russians produce sublime offensive players and plenty of goalies, but the number of really good D is quite poor (unless I’ve missed a bunch). Anyway, Grebs is likely good enough for their Olympic team.
Predictions past 2008-09
- Predicted: 75gp, 2-22-24 (.320 per game)
- Actual: 72gp, 7-32-39 (.542 per game)
Prediction for 2009-10: 71gp, 6-26-32 (.451 per game)