Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Over the last couple of days I've put up a couple of posts at The Copper and Blue about players who have become available on waivers. The first two players I profiled were Adam Hall and Nathan Oystrick who both have skills and salaries that could have made the Oilers a better team. Unfortunately both players have gone unclaimed (NHL teams - especially bad teams - don't use the waiver wire as often as they should) by the Oilers and by the rest of the league. Another unclaimed forward is Liam Reddox who has now been assigned, along with Theo Peckham, to Springfield, leaving the Oilers with 25 bodies on the roster two of whom will start the year on IR (Pouliot and Pisani).

At any rate, I was all nice and ready to put up another waiver profile when I see that fans have taken over The Copper and Blue for the next two days. So go ahead and post over there (you can win stuff!) and I'll do my thing at the old stomping grounds instead.

This post coming here is actually somewhat fitting since The Copper and Blue already has a post on the individual I'm going to profile now. It's almost cheating to say this player is a possible waiver pickup since the Minnesota Wild just signed Andy Hilbert today... and immediately sent the poor bugger to ride the buses. Nonetheless, as Jonathan pointed out in his own post, Hilbert has some good things going for him. For starters, he's an experienced hand having already appeared in 303 career NHL games and he doesn't need to be sheltered. Last season he took on 59 more defensive than offensive zone faceoffs (about middle of the pack for the Islanders) while taking on some of the toughest competition (2nd among Islander regulars in quality of competition) with average help (7th among Islander regulars in quality of teammates) and the results are actually quite good. On a team with a Corsi of -602, Hilbert's -68 actually looks decent. Similarly, his goal differential of -4 is quite good when put in the context of the Islanders' -56 total. Hilbert was also a plus player in each of the two previous years. All of this suggests that Hilbert is a safe bet to be a player that can take on real NHL competition without getting pounded. That alone should be enough to put in a claim.

But there are reasons he probably won't be claimed. First of all, he's 27 years old so he's not exactly a prospect anymore. Secondly, he doesn't have the size and jam... er... crust that the Oilers are looking for if his penalty minute totals are any indication (though to be honest, the Oilers could really use a player that can handle some tough minutes without taking a minor penalty every other game... I'm looking at you Moreau. Thirdly, he needs to play wing and the Oilers are in greater need of a center. Hilbert's 38.2% success rate on 186 faceoffs last year suggests that an experiment as a defensive center is not in the cards. Fourthly, although he's had some offensive pop at the AHL level that offense has never joined him in the show. Still, a player like Hilbert is probably a safer bet on the wing than any of Ryan Stone, Liam Reddox, Zack Stortini and many of the other fringe players the Oilers are going to run out over the course of the year. And it's in making consistent little improvements like picking Hilbert off waivers that a team gets better. Assuming they don't throw it all away by signing a 36 year-old injury prone goalie to a four year contract.

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