by Lisa McRitchie on 01/15/13 at 12:00 AM ET
In an odd turn of events, the Oilers may have too many defencemen. But by too many defencemen, I mean one too many defenceman. But that’s a welcome change from past seasons and scrambling to put warm bodies, including Cam Barker into the lineup every night. And of course, the injury bug has already struck the Oilers, and the team may have just enough players at this given moment thanks to GM Steve Tambellini’s efforts.
Monday afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers announced that they had traded their 2013 third round pick to the Dallas Stars in exchange for former first round defenceman Mark Fistric. Fistric is also an Edmonton boy, who even played in his youth with Tom Gazzolla, host and reporter for Oilers TV.
At first glance, this trade screams “Theo Peckham is on the trading block!” But really, is a defenceman for trade a commodity the Oilers actually have? With the Vancouver Canucks signing Cam Barker and Jim Vandermeer you can’t help but be reminded that there are not many NHL ready and reliable defencemen on the market.
And that means that the price for competent players on team’s rosters is about to go up.
But before the Oilers can even think about trading away an asset the team needs to play a game, and it would also be nice if all of their players were healthy enough to be evaluated.
Among the list of injured Oilers’ defencemen is Andy Sutton, recovering from a knee surgery and Theo Peckham who was reported absent from Monday’s practise, injured with what sounds like a groin pull during the team medicals this weekend. Alex Plante has also sustained injury in the Oklahoma City Barons’ last game, and Plante wouldn’t be an Oiler if it wasn’t a shoulder injury.
But these injuries are before the games have even begun, and Oilers’ players are injured standing up for the up and coming stars.
Perhaps this is where Fistric comes in.
The Oilers already had Theo Peckham, they have Darcy Hordichuk and they have Ben Eager. They even have a new head coach in Ralph Kreuger, and with that a longer leash and a go ahead to play their game. But don’t expect Fistric to run opposing players out of the rink with his fists, no Fistric will do that with his skills. And perhaps his ability to play hard, within the rules.
Should Fistric work out well with the Oilers, should Justin Schultz find his stride, and should the rest of the Oilers' D remain healthy, Steve Tambellini may be a wealthy man with respect to his depth chart. So wealthy in fact that he may be poised to demand the impossible on trade deadline day from teams who are desperate to make improvements, especailly when the compressed and condenced schedule will make the playoffs within the grasps of nearly all teams.
Fistric will be a UFA this summer, but a third round pick isn't much to risk with the current state of the Oilers' prospect list. And if Fistric likes what he sees over the next few months, he might be convinced to stay for less than the $1,475,000 he is currently under contract for.
The fans in Oil Country are already thrilled. Less than 12 hours after the trade, Fistric has 6622 Twitter followers, up 818 from his total as a Star. Once Fistric's interviews and comments about living in Edmonton in the off season, and his happiness at being home hit the airwaves, print and internet, those numbers are sure to rise again.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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