Kids are all right

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

Yes, the Edmonton Oilers still want and need the puck-moving defenceman GM Kevin Lowe is working the phones trying to swing a trade for.

A three-game road trip in which the Oilers managed five of six points with a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks Wednesday hasn't changed that as the Minnesota Wild come calling at Rexall Place tonight.

On the other hand, the way the Oilers took the points - with unproven Jan Hejda, Mathieu Roy and Tom Gilbert stepping into the lineup for Ladislav Smid, Daniel Tjarnqvist and Steve Staios - might buy Lowe some time.

Suffice to say, the situation on the blue-line looks a whole lot better, at least for the short term, today than it did in the wake of five losses in six games before the team hit the road.

Big move to come.

"You've got to have an eye on developing guys," said coach Craig MacTavish, who kept his team off the ice yesterday.

"We'd been really healthy on the back end all year long. You never welcome injuries, but it gives you an opportunity to get these guys some NHL exposure and that's a big part of their development."

Outside of captain Jason Smith and Marc-Andre Bergeron, MacTavish had just 84 games of NHL experience on the ice in San Jose with Hejda, Gilbert, Roy and Matt Greene.

While none of the newcomers will be mistaken for, ahem, Chris Pronger, Hejda, no kid at 28, Roy and Gilbert did just fine. They did well enough that, even with Smid set to come back from a sprained shoulder, we'll see Hejda and Roy in the lineup tonight against the Wild.

"Jan has had a chance to come in and play and he's really solidified a pairing with he and Gator (Smith)," MacTavish said.

"That's been a pairing you can throw out against the other team's best line and feel pretty comfortable.

"Bergy has been playing really well and Mathieu came in and played well. Gilbert moved the puck decently and he's got a head for the game, it looks like. I thought he was fine."

GETTING MUSHY

Former Oiler defenceman Bryan Marchment is filing retirement papers after failing to catch on with anybody this season, meaning the NHL is losing another good man and a throwback to days gone by.

Marchment, 37, who toiled with the Oilers 1994-95 to 1997-98 and played 926 NHL games, was as honest and tough as they come. Mush always answered the bell when people came looking for retribution after one of his knee-shredding hits. There were plenty of them.

Surgeons around the NHL lament the news.

AROUND THE RINK

Expect contract talks between the Oilers and Ryan Smyth's agent, Don Meehan, to begin early next week ... Tom Gilbert's first NHL game came on his 24th birthday ... Noticeably absent on the list of players named to the AHL all-star game is Oiler first-rounder Rob Schremp of Wilkes Barre, who sits 80th in league scoring with 7-18-25 in 34 games and is well back of fellow Oilers prospect and teammate Kyle Brodziak (13-19-32).


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