Tom Gilbert 10-11: Tangled Up In Blue

I remember well the day Edmonton traded Tommy Salo to the Colorado Avalanche. I was driving to work and tuned into the trade deadline action on the radio, only to hear that Salo was gone (a surprise, there were better goaltenders available) for a live body (an even bigger surprise). I later read somewhere it was Peter Forsberg’s wish for Salo to join the team, so thank you Foppa.

Tom Gilbert has developed into a fine NHL defenseman. He’s overexposed on this team and it’s easy to poke holes in his game, but it’s also clear that he is a capable player with miles of track ahead in his NHL career.

I think Gilbert is a prime trade candidate for the Edmonton Oilers. The club has long wanted more toughness and as we’ve discussed before “finesse defensemen” and “Edmonton” often don’t go well together.

Tom Gilbert 10-11

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.61 (4th among Oil D)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 2.63 (4th among Oil D)
  • Qual Comp: toughest among D
  • Qual Team: 2nd best available among D
  • Corsi Rel: 6.0 (best among D)
  • Zone Start: 51.4% (4th easiest among D)
  • Zone Finish: 50.9% (3rd best among D)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 106 shots/6 goals 5.7% (3rd best)
  • Boxcars: 79gp, 6-20-26
  • Plus Minus: -14 on a team that was -52
  1. What do these numbers tell us? He remains a wonderful NHL defenseman. I think Whitney is a better defenseman but it isn’t a wide gap and in fact there’s evidence here coach Renney felt Gilbert was the better man. Toughest available competition, best Corsi and a solid plus minus based on minutes.
  2. What? SOLID plus minus based on minutes? Yes. Gilbert played 1434 minutes at evens and the Oilers defenders played 3,983 minutes (multiply that number by 2–for each defenseman on the ice–and you get the total TOI for Oilers D this past season). Gilbert’s minutes (1434) times the total plus minus number (-52) and divided by the total D minutes at EVs for the season (3983) gives us an expected number of -18.7. Gilbert’s number is better than that, and we also have to consider he was playing tough competition. It isn’t perfect, but does give us a line in the sand.
  3. How could these numbers be better? Broken record time but they need more Tom Gilbert’s. He played over 30% of his EV minutes with Peckham (39.12%) or Smid (30.8%) and played with 9 different partners at even strength during the season. I like Peckham and Smid’s season has lots of positives, but I’m not certain we can argue that either is a bona fide top 4 defender at this time.
  4. What are his strengths? He’s healthy. God love this guy he man’s up even when Quentin Turnbull knocks on the door. He’s an actual NHL player. Gilbert can play the game, is a solid positonal defenseman and when playing with confidence is among the best we’ve seen in Oilers silks at sneaking down from the blueline for a goalmouth scoring opportunity.
  5. He doesn’t hit anyone. He’s very ineffective in the physical aspects of the game and it hurts the Oilers. No one fears us. No one fears the Oilers because they’re no damn good. Tom Gilbert can play his position.
  6. He’s not all that, you know. Well he’s very good. You know that pass that everyone is talking about today? The Ehrhoff pass? Tom Gilbert has the ability and skill to make that pass.
  7. He could also be Vlasic on that play (lost his mark in Sedin and chased the play). True, Gilbert’s coverage isn’t elite level. However, he’s an experienced player who can read the play well and gain position. His exposure has more to do with his extended minutes, toughness of competition and the flat tires he’s out there with every night.
  8. You’re defending him to the death AND you want him traded! I don’t want him traded, but do believe he’s in that range where teams flush good players.
  9. This should be good. Please explain. It happens all the time. Bad teams (NHL, MLB, NFL, CFL, ABA, NBA, CIA, FBI) coming off bad seasons often blame their best players. “We finished last with him, we can finish last without him” is the old saw (from Branch Rickey, I believe) and losing teams very often make mistakes when assessing the problem. The Montreal Expos traded Gary Carter for exactly this reason.
  10. His offense is way off, too. Mostly because the Oilers used him differently this season. He played about one minute 20 extra at even strength and about 40 seconds on the PK above what he’d done the previous season. Two extra minutes per night over a long season–with all of the other items we’ve discussed factored in–leaves the impression that he underperformed. I don’t believe he did, but many organizations in the Oilers position have flushed Tom Gilbert’s in the same circumstances.

By the Numbers

•08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.30
•09-10 5×5 per 60m: 0.92
•10-11 5×5 per 60m: 0.61

By The Numbers
•08-09 5×4 per 60m: 3.91
•09-10 5×4 per 60m: 2.24
•10-11 5×5 per 60m: 2.63

Prediction for 2010-11: 80gp, 9-33-42 (.525)
Actual 2010: 79gp, 6-20-26 (.329)
A quality NHL defenseman

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