Monday, October 14, 2013

The blueline looks to be the center of attention right now

For six years running, the Edmonton Oilers have been unabashedly stockpiling top-end forward talent with their first round picks starting with Sam Gagne (#6, 2007.)

Since then their first-round picks go like this:
  • Jordan Eberle, #22 overall, 2008
  • Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, #10, 2009
  • Taylor Hall, #1, 2010
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, #1, 2011
  • Nail Yakupov, #1, 2012
At last years draft they broke the trend by selecting defenseman Darnell Nurse with the 7th overall pick, just one slot before Buffalo took defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

The Oilers hadn't drafted a defenseman with their first pick in the draft since Nick Stajduhar was taken with the 16th overall pick in 1993.

In 2012 they landed prized college free agent Justin Schultz to help with a porous defense and as of today only one Edmonton draft pick is on the blueline for the Oilers--Jeff Petry, #45, 2006.

The Oilers defense is having a pretty rough go of it early in the 2013-14 season.

In addition to their blueline woes, their starting goalie, Devan Dubnyk (#14 overall, 2004,) has a 5.43 gaa and a .829 sv%.

GM Craig McTavish is said to be "sniffing around for a bold move," according to the Edmonton Journal.

But they're not the only ones looking for help on defense.

According to Lyle Richardson via The Hockey News' rumor roundup, there are a couple more teams other than Edmonton eyeing an upgrade on the blueline.

Richardson writes that Anaheim and the NY Rangers are also looking at their defense corps for a possible upgrade.

Which brings us to the Buffalo Sabres.

Defenseman Henrik Tallinder will be in the lineup tonight after sitting out a few games with an "upper body injury."

He and Jamie McBain, who was traded for at the 2013 Draft, will join Christian Ehrhoff and rookie Mark Pysyk, Tyler Myers and Mike Weber as the Sabres top-six tonight.

Ristolainen and Alexander Sulzer will be the healthy scratches and one of them will be headed to Rochester before the game tonight.

The Sabres also have two other young defensemen in Rochester with NHL experience--Brayden McNabb and Chad Ruhwedel.

On a team that's presently 0-5-1, pretty much any of the spare d-men mentioned could suit up and play for the team. Which also would leave one to believe that if the market for defensemen gets hotter, especially towards the trade deadline, GM Darcy Regier will have no trouble moving one or more of them for a splendid return.

Outside of Myers $5.5m cap-hit, Erhoff, $4m and Tallinder,$3.375, no other Sabres d-man makes over McBain's $1.8m.

In a real tight cap-world, and NHL-calibre d-man at that price should be a hot commodity.

We'll see just how hot, and how Regier plays this as the season grinds on.

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