Ad-minister the defense….

Posted: October 4, 2008 in Uncategorized

These are two players that pose an interesting dynamic when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers defense, Mathieu Roy and Denis Grebeshkov.  Both are signed on for one year deals and because of the depth of the Oilers blueline over the long term, I would suggest that both are less than 50-50 to be Oilers next season, and Roy could possibly be on waivers very shortly. 

The depth of the Oilers blueline has seven players on one way contracts.  Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert, Steve Staios, Denis Grebeshkov, Jason Strudwick and the afforementioned Roy.  Add in Ladislav Smid and you have eight NHL calibre players on the Oilers back end.  Well, personally I have had zero faith in Mathieu Roy to be an NHL player, and am shocked he has a one way deal.

It is pretty easy to peg the depth chart of the blueline.  We know who is going to make the team, and although the team has given glowing reviews to Taylor Chorney, he will get top minutes in Springfield, allowing the team to determine his readiness by next offseason.  That might signal what the team will do with Denis Grebeshkov for next season.  If Chorney struggles, which I doubt, that could mean a decent contract for Grebs upcoming.  We shall see.   Here is a look at what I see this season for the Oilers blueline.

Souray-Staios

Visnovsky-Gilbert

Smid-Grebeshkov

Strudwick

What the defense will provide is a quick puck moving group that should prove to be good at headmanning the puck to the quick forwards. 

STRENGTHS

Well, offense from the back end should be solid.  Souray and Visnovsky are as good a top pairing for the PP as any team in the league.  Gilbert is a fine second pairing PP player and I expect Grebeshkov or Staios to be the fourth. 

WEAKNESSES

The one thing I don’t see is that veteran shut down defenseman.  Smid might ultimately be that player, but Staios is too long in tooth. (I thought he had a poor game last night versus Calgary) and Grebeshkov isn’t refined enough to take over that role.  I do expect a few games of giving up that late goal when trying to hold on to the lead.

OVERALL

This is a fine top six and has good depth.  If they can hold tight in the tight games, the Oilers should be looking to be solidly in the playoffs.  If things don’t hold, then the fight for playoffs will be long and arduous.

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