Even knowing about him (Lubo killed the Oil a time or two) could not prepare a person for the pure joy that is Lubomir Visnovsky. Confident and savvy, swift and gifted, Lubo can do all kinds of things with the puck and plays the game with abandon. He’s just flat out fun.
The Oilers have some good puck movers (Gilbert, Grebeshkov are solid young players) and a defender who is money on the PP (Souray). Visnovsky is the best player among them because his skill set is more varied than Souray’s and more developed than the other two defensemen. It may not always be the case but Lubomir Visnovsky is the best D on the club at this time.
- Boxcars: 50gp, 8-23-31 30pims
- Shots: 86
- Plus Minus: +6
- Corsi: +5.8
- 5×5/60: 0.93
- 5×4/60: 3.07
- GF/GA ON: 37-27
- Quality of Competition: in a group behind Souray
- Quality of Pairing: best available
- 09-10 cap hit (capgeek): 5.6M
- What do these numbers tell us? He was on his way to a terrific season before the injury. Lubo may have topped 50 points if he’d played a full season and opened up the ice nicely for others when in the lineup. Man he can pass the puck. Visnovsky’s 5×5 and 5×4 numbers are not the best on the club among defenders but he’s the most complete offensive player on the blue. He faced about the same competition as Gilbert and Staios with only Souray facing tougher competition through the year. Lubo played with top flight help during 08-09.
- How could these numbers be better? Best Corsi among defenders and a quality GF/GA trailing only Grebeshkov doesn’t leave a lot of room for improvement. I expect he may be better in his second season with Edmonton but if he duplicates 08-09 no one could complain.
- What about injury? That’s the big concern I think, counting on a guy who was hurt a year ago. Looking at his injury history, he’s about average for a player of his position (shoulders, knees, ankles) but is getting to an age where counting on 82 games is likely a bad idea. We’re not even certain he’ll be healthy for training camp (I haven’t read anything suggesting he’s ahead of schedule). UPDATE: cartooncolin posted below that Ryan Rishaug reported on TSN last night that he is good to go for training camp. Huge positive.
- What about a trade? He apparently has a no-trade (Oilers honored the LA contract, although I’m not certain it’s ever been confirmed) but he’s also signed through 2013 at good dollar so a team acquiring him is making a major commitment.
- Will Quinn play him against tough opposition? The knock on Lubo is size but he’s a smart, smart player and the top 4D will probably get a nice rotation going against the other team’s best.
- How will Quinn play him on special teams? I think he might use Lubo a lot like he used Tomas Kaberle and Brian McCabe in Toronto in 2005-06: they each played 7.5 minutes a night on the powerplay. It would mean lesser numbers for Gilbert and Grebeshkov, plus counting on Smid (plus Staios) on the PK but it’s a consideration. If the Oilers are going to make the post-season, special teams will be the caravan.
- How Important is Visnovsky to this team? Extremely important. The Oilers were 25-25 (.500) with him in the lineup and 13-19 (.406) without him. I don’t like making these kinds of arguments but any fool can see the Oilers were a better club with him and their playoff chances took a hit when he went down.
Predictions Past 2008-09
76gp, 12-38-50 (.658 per game)
50gp, 8-23-31 (.620 per game)
Prediction for 2009-10: 66gp, 11-29-40 (.606 per game)