via Wikimedia Commons, public domain
There exists a certain type of fan that will never understand Tom Gilbert's value as a defender. No amount of possession metrics, scoring chance totals or WOWY breakdowns will convince them that Tom Gilbert is amongst the very best defenders in the NHL. Until Gilbert rings up points by the dozen, he will be rated as overpaid and unreliable by that cross-section. No amount of qualcomp, qualteam or block stats will convince them of Gilbert's toughness. Until Gilbert racks up highlight-worthy hits, he will be soft and uncaring in the minds of the faithful.
But one stat that should matter to everyone is the Oilers' record and goal differential without Gilbert.
In the 39 games prior to Gilbert's injury, the Oilers won 16 games and had a goal differential of -3.
Even if the unsustainable hot streak at the beginning of the season is discounted, the difference is still remarkable.
When Ryan Batty named Tom Gilbert the Oilers' first-half MVP, it was well-deserved, but I don't think even he realized how valuable Gilbert was to the Oilers.