Ryan Whitney being listed as a healthy scratch for Monday night’s tilt with the division rival Vancouver Canucks came as a shock to just about everyone. It was the first time in Whitney’s 7 year career that he had been listed as a healthy scratch. This has raised questions about his availability in the trade market.
Whitney has been an assist machine for the Oilers when healthy, the only problem is he’s rarely healthy. In his last two seasons as an Oiler Whitney has only played 86 of a possible 164 games. In these 86 games he has tallied 47 points a game, which is about 0.54 per.
This year has been a little bit out of character though for Whitney. He’s finally at 100% in terms of health, but his production has taken a steep drop, along with his plus/minus. Whitney only has 3 assists on the season and is a minus 5. His ice time has also dropped over 2 minutes a game. He is clearly struggling with Ralph Krueger’s new system and could be losing favor with the new Oilers bench boss.
Defense was once considered an area of concern for the Oilers. In all fairness, it still is, but to a much lesser extent following a busy off season from Steve Tambellini. The Oilers brought in prized free agent Justin Schultz, and traded for Mark Fistric. These moves could make Whitney a much more expendable player. Whitney is in the final year of his contract and there’s no telling if the Oilers are going to be willing to cough up the cash needed to keep the oft injured point man.
If Ryan Whitney is available, there should be no shortage of teams interested in the veteran blueliner. The Philadelphia Flyers will most likely be tops on the list, but they would struggle to fit him under the cap with only about 1.5 million left to spend. Another team that could emerge as a possible trade destination are the Detroit Red Wings. They are - for the first time in forever - in serious danger of not making the playoffs. They have struggled mightily on defense following an offseason in which they lost both Lidstrom and Stuart, and are rumoured to be kicking tires on a few defensemen. Another team to watch out for would be the Buffalo Sabres. They have more than enough cap space to fit Whitney this season, and have looked nothing short of awful defensively. The Sabres are currently 14th in the East and could be desperate for defensive additions, as a means of righting the ship.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his Canucks blog at http://www.WeveGotTwins.blogspot.ca