That fellow in dark is the newest member of the Edmonton Oilers, Lubomir Visnovsky. He has been acquired in exchange for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene, proving that in a salary cap world, the extras that you never dreamed would be thrown together can be exchanged for a relatively high-end player. Before I get into my feelings on the trade, I'm going to do a statistical analysis of Visnovsky. I'd also suggest doing what most everyone else does and dropping by Lowetide, who already has his comments up. Anyways, here goes:
Time On Ice
2007-08: 17:00 EV, 4:35 PP, 1:25 SH
2006-07: 17:31 EV, 5:57 PP, 0:58 SH
2005-06: 14:49 EV, 7:03 PP, 1:23 SH
2007-08: 0.78 EV, 3.51 PP
2006-07: 1.24 EV, 4.82 PP
2005-06: 1.32 EV, 4.35 PP
Quality of Competition
2007-08: 4th among Kings defensemen
2006-07: 3rd among Kings defensemen
Goal differential ON/60
2007-08: -.67 EV, +5.54 PP, -4.82 SH
2006-07: +.21 EV, +6.99 PP, -4.23 SH
RTSS (rank compared to other Kings defensemen
2007-08: 3rd in hits (60), 3rd in blocked shots (118), 1st in shots (153)
2006-07: 4th in hits (47), 3rd in blocked shots (107), 2nd in shots (159)
2005-06: 6th in hits (49), 5th in blocked shots (116), 2nd in shots (152)
We get the picture of an interesting player- certainly a major asset on the powerplay, but hardly one-dimensional. His powerplay points production in any of the past three seasons is miles ahead of his nearest Oilers rival (Gilbert, 3.01), and with the exception of this past season, his even strength production is well clear also (Gilbert, 0.98). It's easy to see that the 32-year old Visnovsky is far and away the best offensive defenseman of the group.
He plays a relatively non-physical game, and takes very few penalties. He's willing to sacrifice his body to block shots (if RTSS has any value at all) and should thus fit in OK on a Craig MacTavish coached team. He's played middling opposition and showed some ability to come out with his head above water, so he's a useful player at even strength. I really like what he brings to the table. He's under contract until 2011-12 at an average cap hit of 5.6M (in other words, he's basically got the same contract as Souray, with the possibly non-trivial difference that it isn't really an overpay).
What does this do to the Oilers defense? The first thing I'd like to point out is that the Oilers have made the correct choice in the Smid vs. Greene choice for the bottom pairing, since in addition to his higher upside and younger age, Smid's already a better player. Secondly, the obvious answer is that Joni Pitkanen is on his way out of town, because there simply isn't room for 4 defensemen in the 4M+ range. As nice as it is to imagine that the Oilers have Sheldon Souray on the way out, it just isn't happening, and Tom Gilbert just signed a long-term deal, so Pitkanen's out, likely for a top-6 forward with grit. My guess would be Erik Cole, but there are other possibilities. It's too bad, really; Pitkanen's a better player than we've seen to date.
It would be nice to get some muscle now; a guy like Cole helps, but with Stoll gone, a third-line centre is a neccessary addition, as none of the guys the Oilers have/might have (Reasoner, Brodziak, Pouliot, Cogliano) can fill that role at this stage in their careers. Additionally, if Pitkanen is dealt, and with Greene already gone, the Oilers have a greater need for a physical, tough-minutes defender (Kurt Sauer, perhaps?). The worry hear is that they plug Peckham into that role, and I really don't think he's ready to play tough opposition.
All in all, a nice day for Kevin Lowe, but we should probably reserve judgement until we see what happens to Pitkanen.