The Edmonton Oilers' frustrating season got a little more so on Tuesday when it was learned that No. 1 defenseman Tom Gilbert will be out until "after the All-Star Game," according to coach Tom Renney. That would put Gilbert out until at least Feb. 2 when the Oilers host the Chicago Blackhawks.
Oilers blog Copper And Blue painted a pretty grim picture of what this means:
The loss of Gilbert is significant, probably more so than any other player on the team. Gilbert has been the Oilers' first-half MVP playing the same role he's played over the past four seasons - the number one defender who plays in all situations and always plays against the opponent's best. He leads the Oilers in icetime by approximately four minutes per game and has been tasked with a role no one in the organization, not even a healthy Ryan Whitney, is capable of fulfilling.
Gilbert has been reasonably productive offensively for the Oilers. He has three goals and 12 assists and was basically on pace to match or exceed his career averages in both areas. His -2 +/- may not seem great, but the team is -8 and he's leading in ice time by a significant chunk.