RE 11-12: Tom Gilbert

I bet Tom Renney appreciates Tom Gilbert in a big way. After worrying over the new hires and the kids and the injury prone, it must be an absolute pleasure to write Gilbert’s name down and slot about 1,800 NHL minutes beside his name.

Gilbert plays in all situations, although his PP number hasn’t been exceptional since the days of Lubo and a healthy Sheldon.

At even strength, Gilbert played with 9 different partners during the past year and battled every minute of every game. The results were impressive based on the kinds of players he was facing and the help he was getting.

Tom Gilbert–despite what many Oiler fans will tell you–is miles from being the problem.

NHL prediction for 11-12: 82, 5-23-28 (.342)

  1. Where does he slot in on the depth chart this coming season? Second, behind Whitney when #6 is healthy. I think Gilbert could be part of a solid NHL team as a second pairing D who could help in all situations. I don’t think the Oilers will pair Whitney-Gilbert much, although imo it would make a solid top pairing–the best we’ve seen in awhile in Oiler colors.
  2. Where did Gilbert slot last year? #1 D after Whitney went down. He played the toughest opposition with (mostly) Peckham (39%) or Smid (31%) and still had the club’s best CorsiRel among Oilers defenders. 
  3. He’s not worth $4M you know. I can think of several contracts the Oilers have given out that give less value than Gilbert on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Would you like the list?
  4. It’s fine. But he’s overpaid by NHL standards. I’ll make you a promise: the moment Edmonton has 5 actual NHL defensemen who can play against tough opposition then we can discuss it. As it is, I’ll admit that he’s paid well but do not consider him a gross overpay. Is he worth $1M per season more than Andy Greene?
  5. That’s not really a fair comparison. NJD were desperate. Right, but the Oilers look at their depth chart on blue and dance a jig. Right?
  6. Why do Oiler fans dislike him so much? Two reasons, I think. First, Gilbert is never going to be as gritty as Jason Smith or Steve Staios and a lot of fans associate grit with defense. When Theo Peckham works along the boards there’s physical contact every three seconds, it’s a battle. Gilbert is a more effective player, but his plays more of a finesse game.
  7. And you said there was a second reason. I think Gilbert’s wide range of skills have been discouraged by the coaching staff. I can’t hang it all on coach Renney, Pat Quinn didn’t appear to like his defensemen matriculating toward the opposition end: pass it up boys and then follow the play from a distance. Just like Pat Quinn was taught all those years ago.
  8. Earlier, you blamed Quinn for Lubo’s departure. What are you on about? Really it was like the Bobby Orr era never happened, and I think it may have had an impact on Gilbert’s confidence. There’s an entire side to his game that doesn’t happen anymore. An example would be sneaking in from the blueline. He used to do that once a game, now he does it once a week.
  9. If this is true, wouldn’t Gilbert’s scoring rates be off for the last couple of seasons? They are. 5×5 per 60 minutes offense has fallen from 1.30 to .92 to .61 and his 5×4 offense is well off too.
  10. Oh hell, that’s because Lubo and Souray are gone and they’ve been replaced by Smid and Peckham. True no doubt, but I don’t see the same player offensively. Tom Gilbert’s creative side reached the NHL but it’s gone (or less obvious) and something happened to it. I’m not certain if coach Renney is friend or foe in this regard.
  11. What are his strengths? Wide range of skills. Good foot speed, mobile and has the ability to settle things down. Gilbert is a healthy, veteran NHL defenseman and the Oilers could use three more. I can’t for the life of me understand how Oiler fans (a hockey mad bunch) fail to see his range of skills.
  12. What are his weaknesses? Gilbert’s coverage can break down at times and he is also prone to losing some battles along the boards. The coverage issue is pretty much league wide, there aren’t 10 defensemen in the entire league who can go a season without looking exposed a couple of times a week. His offensive play is off from a few seasons ago.
  13. That’s a lot of weakness. In the NW division, how many defenseman are an absolute lock to diffuse offensive sorties by the other team? The new rules don’t allow for that clutching and grabbing in the neutral zone, so coverage is a lot more read and react. An example: G7 of the eastern conference finals between TBAY and Boston. The two teams battled but couldn’t score a goal until very late. Boston caught the Lightning D just a little flat-footed and Bergeron plus Horton had tremendous speed into the offensive zone. The goal was textbook, the defensemen just a little late. Those plays happen in the modern NHL, and Gilbert (like most defensemen) can be exposed in that manner. It doesn’t mean he can’t play defense.
  14. He needs to be more physical. I disagree. Let’s move on.
  15. You don’t agree he needs to be more physical? No, I don’t. Gilbert is who he is, a quality NHL defenseman with a nice range of skills. Focusing on the things he doesn’t do while undervaluing the things he can do? What would a reasonable person call that?
  16. An informed opinion? Well, I’d prefer to say an opinion that will get you 5 hammerheads on the blue every night but call it what you will.
  17. Does it come down to a style preference? I don’t think so. I think it comes down to a performance preference. What if Tom Gilbert had the same skill set as he currently owns, but also took a #18 penalty once a night. An absolute shit for brains penalty that involved a stupid overreaction and two minutes in the penalty box.
  18. He’d be a better player? Riiiiight. A better player.

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