SUN Hockey Pool

Gilbert-Schultz a real hockey trade

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini says Nick Schultz can play both sides of the point, while bringing...

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini says Nick Schultz can play both sides of the point, while bringing experience and poise to the position. (Ian Kucerak, QMI Agency)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

EDMONTON - Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz was a deadline deal for the Edmonton Oilers you could put down to a lot of things.

Shuffling the deck chairs.

Change for the sake of change.

A deal for the sake of at least doing a deal so nobody could say you did nothing to try improve, now or for the future, of a 29th place hockey team.

But before it was anything else, it was a hockey deal.

An actual, our-player for your-player, same-position, same-age, same-salary trade of two players who were well-liked by their teammates. And a trade of two players who nobody in either market rumoured to be going anywhere.

“There are not many of those anymore,” said Tambellini.

“It was refreshing. You are not able to do that much these days. You are usually either a buyer or a seller. There are only so many times you can make a hockey trade,” he added.

“This was not a salary dump or dumping a player that we didn’t appreciate or we didn’t value,” said Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher. “You’re trading a good player for a good player. That’s always difficult. We felt going forward we needed to … add a little bit more puck-moving ability to our back end.”

The trade of a 29-year-old Oiler making $4 millon in each of the next two years for a 29-year-old making $3.5 million for two more years for the Wild hardly has the sizzle of Tambellini’s triumph trading Dustin Penner, for a first-round draft choice that turned into Oscar Klefbom in addition to Colten Teubert and a second-round pick this June.

Tambellini didn’t manage to unload Nicolai Khabibulin.

He didn’t manage to move Cam Barker or any of the other players he brought here who don’t look nearly as good as on his resume as the Penner deal.

But you can make a case he traded away an offensive defenceman who, even having his best year, had lost his place on the team totem pole with the emergence of Jeff Petry and the return to health of finally-playing-without-pain again Ryan Whitney.

Gilbert, you’d have to say, is the better hockey player of the two. But Schultz is the more consistent of the two.

“What he brings is something we don’t have enough of, a dependable, very fit, very experienced defenceman, one who has really good experience internationally,” said Tambellini of the native of Strasbourg, Sask., who played for Team Canada in two world juniors and three world championships.

“I love the poise he brings. We’re getting a player with a lot of poise in a lot of different situations. We have to get better in big moments. He understands a lot of the different parts of the game and a lot of the looks of the game. His compete level is hard. He’s a match-up type of guy that plays against a lot of the top lines. And as you’ve heard today from his former teammates, they look to him as a warrior-type guy who competes extremely hard.

“He can complement an offensive defenceman. He plays both sides, left and right. That is important as we grow our back end. He can play with a defensive pairing such as Ladi Smid against top lines or complement an offensive puck-moving defenceman like Ryan Whitney. There’s great flexibility with him.”

Schultz, however, brings no offence. Zero.

The Wild are getting a guy who plays big minutes and produces some points. Who knew the Minnesota Wild were interested in offence?

In the end, when you look at the big picture, though, it looks like a mostly wasted trade deadline for the Oilers and a whole lot of other teams in the NHL, especially the one Jay Feaster generally manages 300 miles south of here.

And with no interest in Nikolai Khabibulin or any of the other suspects, there were were no extra bullets to give to head scout Stu MacGregor for an NHL Entry Draft loaded with defencemen.

While the Oilers decided to sign Ales Hemsky for $10 million over two years because they couldn’t do better than a second-round draft pick for him, you have to wonder what deadline day might have brought when Nashville gave up their first rounder and a fourth rounder for Paul Gaustad, who has seven goals and 17 points for Buffalo.

Then again, maybe the Oilers can do better than that when they trade Hemsky at this time next year.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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