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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oilers Trade Gilbert to the Wild for Schultz – Who Got The Best Deal?

Tom Gilbert was in his sixth season for the Oilers but on Monday he found out that he would be moving to another place, a place that he knows—“home.” Gilbert was born and raised in Bloomington which is within 30 minutes of the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul where the Wild play. Upon being questioned about how it felt to be at the Center, Gilbert declared: “It feels like home.” In exchange for Gilbert the Oilers received Nick Schultz who was in his tenth year with the Wild, and like Gilbert who had only played for the Oilers, Schultz had only played for the Wild in his career. Schultz was born in Saskatchewan so moving to Canada won’t be a big deal for him; however, the trade itself was a shock to both he and his former teammates. Gilbert and Schultz are the same age, 29. On the ice Gilbert is a two-way player while Schultz is defensive-minded.

Why did the trade take place?

From the Oiler’s standpoint I believe that there were several reasons why Lowe and Tambellini decided to trade Gilbert.

First, Gilbert had been injured and Jeff Petry was given more ice time and has played very well and continues to improve. Lowe, Tabellini, and Renney feel that Petry will be able to develop into a move offensive-minded defenseman and they are satisfied with his overall play.

Second, Gilbert’s offensive output had been declining each year since 2008-2009, however, it is true that he was doing better earlier this year.

Third, Schultz has two years left on his contract after this year and then he will be an unrestricted free agent. In those two years he will make 7 million. Gilbert also has two years remaining on his contract before he will be an unrestricted free agent. He will make 8 million in the next two years. Therefore, the Oilers will save some money and they are going to need to if they want to sign Eberle, Hall, and Nugent-Hopkins for long-term deals (after next year for Eberle and Hall, and the following year for Nugent-Hopkins). Oiler management also probably feels that Gilbert has been making more than he deserved considering the last three years. I do.

Fourth, Petry is only 24 years old and Gilbert is 29.

Fifth, Schultz is 29 but has a solid track record and reputation for being tough defensively. The Oilers need to be better in their own end and Schultz will help with that task. Some of the other defensemen should learn from him. 

From the Wild’s perspective, they wanted a more offensive-minded defenseman who could move the puck quickly and help the team score goals; and, they wanted that type of player because they had just traded disgruntled defenseman Marek Zidlicky (to the Devils in exchange for Nick Palmieri, Kurtis Foster, Stephane Veilleux, and one or two draft picks, with one being conditional). The Wild also know that having a hometown boy playing for them will help bring fans into the building. It is very likely that Gilbert will work harder and his game should improve. The Wild had been pretty stale for over two months and the team really needed some changes, and besides the Zidlicky and Shultz trades they dealt defenseman Greg Zanon to the Bruins for defenseman Steven Kampfer. 

Gilbert knows at least a couple of his new teammates: Kurtis Foster played for the Oilers last year, and of course Kyle Brodziak played two full seasons as an Oiler, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.

Nick Schultz will see a couple of faces that he knows too: Andy Sutton was playing for the Wild during Schultz’s first year with the team, and Cam Barker was with the Wild in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.   

Who Got The Best Deal?

In this trade you can toss a coin. It is going to depend on Gilbert and Schultz themselves, and if both perform as expected then the Oil and the Wild will get what they want. Gilbert will be inspired by family and friends and Schultz will be inspired by the young Oilers who really want to win. It will be interesting to see the results and hopefully they will both do well.

TJ Stanley