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Numbers Game: Visnovsky to the Oilers

Scott Cullen
7/1/2008 4:06:08 PM
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In the first of several significant trades already this summer, the Edmonton Oilers got a power play quarterback.

Numbers Game takes a look at Edmonton's acquisition of Lubomir Visnovsky.

The Oilers Get: D Lubomir Visnovsky.

Even though his productivity has slipped in each season since the NHL lockout, Visnovsky remains an intriguing weapon on the power play because of his mobility, puck skills and big shot. 

At the same time, Visnovsky is undersized which can pose problems in his own end and last season's minus-18 was the low mark of his career.

However, Visnovsky's game thrives in an up-tempo pace, which should make him a good fit with the up-and-coming Oilers.  His arrival also made the ensuing trade of Joni Pitkanen a foregone conclusion.

31-year-old Visnovsky has five years and $28-million remaining on his current contract.

The Oilers obviously lose size and toughness along the blueline as part of this deal, but some of that void can be made up with a healthy Sheldon Souray, and the opportunity to upgrade the league's 21st-ranked power play was well worth it.

Up front, the Oilers have enough promise down the middle that they could afford to part with Stoll.

The Kings Get: C Jarret Stoll and D Matt Greene.

Stoll, 26, is coming off a disappointing campaign in which he had 36 points and a ghastly minus-23 rating.  Before running into concussion problems in 2006-2007, though, Stoll was turning into a quality two-way centre who could play in all situations, including manning a spot on the point on the power play.

If he can bounce back, another year removed from his injury, Stoll could be a good fit in the second or third-line centre positions with the Kings.  It's probably unreasonable to expect 68 points, like he had in 2005-2006, but something in the 50-to-60-point range is possible, particularly if he ends up in a power play role.

Stoll is a restricted free agent, but shouldn't be due for any kind of sizeable pay increase after such a down season.

Greene brings much-needed size and toughness to the table, a quality that the Kings obviously felt they needed to address, as they also brought in Denis Gauthier in a later trade with the Flyers.  Greene will earn $1.25-million next season, the final year on his current contract.

The issue that remains for the Kings is that, even if they re-sign free agent Rob Blake, there aren't a lot of options on the blueline to replace Visnovsky on the power play.  Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty certainly could be ready for that role eventually, but it's a lot to ask of two defencemen that are so young.  That may leave Tom Preissing as the best incumbent option to handle more power play action as a result.

Given that the Kings are going with a decided youth movement, it's completely understandable for them to find younger -- and cheaper -- alternatives to fill out their lineup but in terms of straight hockey value, the Oilers should reap greater rewards from this deal.

Scott Cullen can be reached at scullen@tsn.ca



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