This Year’s Blue

I don’t recall worrying about the blue 10 ten years ago. The Oilers would bring in an Eric Brewer and have Jason Smith and Janne Niinimaa and and and. There was a culture that the Oilers tweaked and it wasn’t airtight but there didn’t seem to be the kind of massive changeover we see these years.

Edmonton’s opening night rosters since 2006 spring have featured a lot of names. Jason Smith, Steve Staios, Daniel Tjarnqvist, MA Bergeron, Matt Greene, Ladislav Smid, Jan Hejda Sheldon Souray, Dick Tarnstrom, Joni Pitkanen, Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov, Lubomir Visnovsky and on it went.

The current blue features three players Edmonton will count on (Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid) and then a cast of several. The current roster group has all kinds of toubles (Whitney’s health, Gilbert trade rumors, Smid protects himself like he’s Amish) but there’s a chance the Edmonton Oilers will go to war with this group.

Here’s how their NHL coaches used them one year ago.

EVEN STRENGTH TOI/G
  1. Ryan Whitney 18:19
  2. Tom Gilbert 18:09
  3. Jeff Petry 16:54
  4. Ladislav Smid 16:50
  5. Theo Peckham 15:58
  6. Cam Barker 14:10 (6th on Wild D)
  7. Andy Sutton 12:16 (8th on Ducks D)

Both new hires were third pairing options for their previous teams (although there was a lot of sway on both rosters). A guess would be that Barker will get a push at EVs, possibly playing with Whitney on the top pairing or teaming up with Tom Gilbert on the 2 pairing. Sutton would appear to be mentor, enforcer and designated sixth man most nights.

PP TOI/G
  1. Ryan Whitney 4:19
  2. Tom Gilbert 2:59
  3. Jeff Petry 2:11
  4. Cam Barker 1:22 (4th on Wild D)
  5. Ladislav Smid 0:45
  6. Theo Peckham 0:06
  7. Andy Sutton 0:05 (7th on Ducks D)
Barker should more than double his PP minutes based on what the Oilers are saying about him. It’ll be interesting to see how they use Gilbert this season on the PP; I felt he should play more a year ago, but a lot of minutes went to Kurtis Foster. I think Gilbert could help, but Barker is going to get the push.
PK TOI/G
  1. Tom Gilbert 3:21
  2. Ryan Whitney 2:42
  3. Ladislav Smid 2:40
  4. Theo Peckham 2:31
  5. Andy Sutton 2:23 (4th on Ducks D)
  6. Jeff Petry 1:16
  7. Cam Barker 0:50 (7th on Wild D)

Sutton should be able to help, although his mobility is a concern. Barker has played some heavier minutes on the PK in the NHL. I hope they’re not done, but I think the Oilers might be putting a tremendous amount of faith in Barker being able to post a strong season. We’ll know soon.

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