One more post on the topic at hand. One more post I really had zero desire to write. One more post that will probably wind up with a comment section full of people yelling at me. Which is fine. I can handle it.
It is possible Tom Gilbert is the answer the Wild needed. So many possibilities, so little time. Plenty of cliches about wishes and possibilities. With the shake up on the blue line, if nothing else, it will be interesting to watch how the dynamic changes. It may not be instantly apparent if the changes had an impact, but it shouldn't take long for the dividends to at least show signs.
Is it fair to make Gilbert live up to a standard of the mythical Nick Schultz? Not at all. Life sucks. Wear a helmet. Gilbert was traded for Schultz, and that's how things work. Fans are going to want a player to step into Schultz's skates and role. If no one does (and Gilbert should not), Gilbert will take the heat for it.
The trade is growing on me a bit. It will depend greatly on Gilbert's play if it continues to do so.
This was not a make or break trade. At least not long term. It will be a decisive trade on whether or not the Wild have the faith of the fans the rest of the season. That may be the biggest test of all.
Who is Tom Gilbert? After the jump.
From the Edmonton Journal:
Gilbert has come into his own this season. He's consistently made the right play with the puck. He's a cagey defender, rarely caught out of position. He's not much of a power play specialist, as he's lacks a strong shot, but when it comes to getting that puck out of the Oilers zone, he's extremely capable.
He's been slow to come back from his recent injury, but has been a durable player for the Oilers. He's not a hitter, but he's a shot blocker. This year, he added a bit of nasty to his game, not much, but it was noticeable.
From Chuck Fletcher (via Russo):
I've heard some characterizations of Tom Gilbert as an offensive type of guy. I'm pretty familiar with Tom. Tom played in Wilkes-Barre a few years ago when I was general manager of that team on loan from Edmonton. ... I think Tom is a strong puck mover and has the ability to contribute offensively, but ideally he has a very solid two-way game. He logs a lot of minutes. When the Minnesota Wild played Edmonton this year, Tom Gilbert was often playing on a line with Ladislav Smid. He's a guy that can play in any situation, he moves the puck well and he does have an offensive component. But I don't know if I'd characterize him purely as an offensive defenseman. I don't think that's fair to his talents. Our ability to transition the puck from the defensive zone to the offensive zone is an area we wanted to improve.
This is the hit that injured Gilbert's back. Looks nice and clean, eh? (Carcillo was suspended 7 games.)
I would include video of him scoring a goal, but it doesn't seem to exist. So... there's that.
The Bottom Line
I'm still unconvinced this was a good move. Maybe trades from the past have made me skeptical. Maybe I'm just a jerk that doesn't like offensive d-men. Maybe I am completely wrong, and the Wild will rally around all the changes and find a way to pull their game together. Maybe.
It could happen.
He will have an awful lot of eyes on him, and a heavy burden to bear. The fact he is Minnesotan is going to buy him time with a few people. If he performs well, he'll convince others. It's going to take awhile to convince this old bitter jerk. I hope he does well. I hope he improves the team in ways never thought imaginable.
It will take a bit to find him the right defensive partner. Likely Justin Falk, Nate Prosser, or maybe Marco Scandella. Who knows at this point. It likely won't be Jared Spurgeon or Kurtis Foster, though.