The Edmonton Oilers made two deals today which should effect their payroll, size and average team age. Their first deal sent offensive defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to the Anaheim Ducks for Ryan Whitney and a sixth round draft pick. Their second move sent long-time Oiler Steve Staios to the Calgary Flames for impending UFA Aaron Johnson and a third round pick in either the 2010 or 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
In Whitney, the Oilers gain a big offensive defenseman who still could reach his potential. Just three years ago the 27-year-old potted almost 60 points with the offensive powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins. With the recent news of Sheldon Souray missing the rest of the season and Visnovsky moving, Whitney should get every chance to succeed on the Edmonton blue line.
Keep in mind Ladislav Smid remains day-to-day, meaning the Oilers really hold no other productive NHL caliber defensemen at this point besides Whitney and Tom Gilbert at this point. Their future looks much better however with room for top prospects Alex Plante and Jeff Petry, the former should be expecting another call to the big leagues any time soon. Theo Peckham already received his call two days ago and looks to stick with the trade of Denis Grebeshkov. NOTE: Hockey’s Future ranks them as Peckham, Petry then Plante. Johnson will likely fill the void until Petry turns pro, giving the top six in Edmonton a very makeshift feel.
By moving Staios, the Oilers save a 2.7 million cap hit for this season and the next. At this point one really needs to question why Calgary would take on yet another player with a non-expiring contract, but Darryl Sutter must feel he needed another veteran on the back end. Adam Pardy likely takes the brunt of this move and will serve as the seventh defenseman.
Do not expect any favorable results from the Oiler back end or Staios in Calgary this season.
In sunny Anaheim, things look much better for the offensively gifted Visnovsky. He joins a powerplay already ranked 6th in the league and a team on the upswing only three points out of playoff position. With a hot netminder in Jonas Hiller, the Ducks and Visnovsky seem like a mutually beneficial relationship. Considering his signing through 2013, the team now has an immediate replacement should Scott Niedermayer retire following this season as expected.
The move for the Slovakian definitely effects James Wisniewski, who currently plays both on the top pairing and top powerplay unit. Coach Randy Carlyle may keep the American defenseman on the first pairing as to not change chemistry, but would be foolish not to drop him off the top powerplay.