If Ryan Whitney is back to full health–and can maintain it–a lot of problems melt away for the Edmonton Oilers. Whitney is a big, strong, talented defender who can pass the puck expertly, handle his own end and calm the waters when things are going off the rails.
Whitney has played some big minutes in his career–24 or more minutes a night at times during some of his time in Pittsburgh and Anaheim, and his first season in Edmonton too. We’ve been getting good reports on Whitney for some time now, as reflecting in this interview he did with Jason Strudwick a couple of months ago.
- Whitney: Feels good to get a full summer of training in. Feels good to just be skating every day and not rehabbing injuries. After a lot of injuries you don’t always feel like you did when you were younger but as an older player you readjust to your “new normal”.
Now that everyone is returning to camp, we’re getting these lockout stories confirmed and of course the excitement is building. Jim Matheson has an item up on Whitney’s current state of affairs.
- Whitney: “I feel very good (recovering from his foot injury). I did so much skating (since last April’s last game of 2012-13) and worked really hard with my trainer. I got to do sprints, things I couldn’t do for a while.”
If Whitney can wheel and turn, the Oilers blue becomes much stronger in a heartbeat. If coach Krueger could go:
- Whitney-J Schultz
- N Schultz-Potter
All kinds of advantages there. The Oilers could run the 2nd pairing (as listed) on their 1PP and not break up a pairing (although an article this morning suggests Jordan Eberle may end up playing the PP point with Schultz) and Whitney would be a terrific mentor for Schultz the younger.
This is all blue sky right now, we’ll know in a week or two. I still think the Oilers should be looking to replace the Sutton minutes from outside the organization, but slotting Whitney as a clear top 4 option who can make all the plays gives the D a much better look.