RE 10-11: Ryan Whitney

When the Oilers traded Stoll & Greene to LA for Lubo, I was pretty happy. The day they dealt him I said “the only way to make any sense out of the Lubo trade is to approach it from the perspective of a team with little wish to compete in the next 24 months.”

I still think that’s true, but Whitney played much better after the trade than we thought he could, and he does appear to be a huge part of the future. No matter what the distant future holds, in the here and now Whitney is an actual NHL defenseman with experience. The Edmonton Oilers need him healthy and effective. All season long.

•Boxcars: 81gp, 7-32-39
•Shots: 151
•Plus Minus: +1
•Corsi (Rel): 2.3
•GF/GA ON: 74-71
•5×5/60: 0.84
•5×4/60: 2.69
•Quality of Competition: tough
•Quality of Teammates: very good
•Cap Hit: $4,000,000 times 3

  1. What do these numbers tell us? He had a good season, despite being traded at the deadline. He’s an excellent passer and can help a team on offense, and despite coverage gaps Whitney has size and can close a gap with his speed. I don’t think we can call him a “complete defenseman” but rather an offensive defenseman with a wide range of skills. His season reflects that perfectly.
  2. How could these numbers be better? He isn’t an elite level offensive defenseman and that’s probably why he was traded for Lubo (who is better in that area). Whitney is a solid pro and I don’t think we can expect a better boxcar season than the one he posted in 10-11. His big offensive seasons came with a more gifted hockey team than he’ll play with here in the next few seasons.
  3. Why did he get traded again? Well, let’s review here. Anaheim was using him in a role that Visnovsky can do better and so they pulled the trigger. Whitney played on the Anaheim powerplay 3:36 a night for 62 games (224 total minutes). Lubo arrived at the deadline and played over 5 minutes a night on the PP (82.5 minutes). Lubo produced 4.36 points-per 60 after the deadline, Whitney produced 3.49. I don’t think Whitney is a bad player at all, but Lubo is a better one.
  4. Whitney can PK. Oh sure, he’s got a nice range of skills. I’m not putting him down at all, happy he is here. I think he’ll play more at EVs and PK than the powerplay, because I’m counting on (read: looking forward to) Tom Renney’s powerplay in 2010-11. But if he is on the PP I think he’ll be solid.
  5. The Oilers also got a pick in the deal. Brandon Davidson. Like him a lot. I think he’s got a chance to have a career, although it is a ways down the road.
  6. So you think the Oilers brought Whitney in to mentor the kids? Yes, and eventually they’ll send him away in a trade (or if he emerges as a captain perhaps re-sign him). Whitney’s role is to keep the rig between the white lines on the nights when the kids lose their religion. It is a tough job. Jason Smith did it for a few years here, although he isn’t a similar player to Whitney.
  7. Whitney has some grit too. Sure does, he has a nice range of skills. I hope he doesn’t overdo the goonery because it usually results in injury. Just a nice calm influence back there, making sure no one gets abused and if he can chip in on offense that’ll be very good news.
  8. So you like him? Sure. I loved the first media conference where he said that coming to Edmonton was a good thing and he was looking forward to building something. Whitney is 27 years old, if he plays well in the next three seasons and becomes a leader, I think there’s a chance he signs another deal and hangs around for the good times.
  9. What about that foot thingy? Wikipedia calls it a “foot boner” injury but I’m not a doctor so can’t comment. Pause. It looks like he had some issues a few summers ago and then had surgery in August 2008. I don’t know that it is an issue at this time (or if the other foot will need to be realigned too) but “defense” and “injury” are in the same sentence so often it is rarely news until they can’t play in a game. It may impact the length of his career but he’s 27 and should have several productive seasons to come. Anyway, me writing about medicial stuff is farce squared so lets move on.
  10. How important is he to the team? Vital. Beyond vital. What’s the word after vital? Life or death? That’s three words. Anyway, should he (or Gilbert) get injured I suggest stamp collecting this winter.
Prediction for 2010-11: 70gp, 8-26-34
A fine veteran defenseman

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