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Guys The Oilers Should At Least Call: Andy Hilbert

Andy Hilbert

#11 / Left Wing / New York Islanders



Feb 06, 1981

37th overall, 2000

GP G A P +/- PIM SOG PCT QualComp QualTeam Corsi/60
2008 - 09 67 11 16 27 -3 22 167 6.6 2nd 7th -5.6

Andy Hilbert has spent most of his career as a perpetual prospect, with the label "possible top-six forward" firmly affixed.  It made sense; he scored very well in college and in the AHL, but somewhere along the way Hilbert made a transformation.  Scoring stars who spend a lot of time in the minors seem to make one of two decisions:

  1. Spend a lot of their career in Europe
  2. Develop in other areas

Hilbert did the latter, turning into a defensively responsible, bottom-six guy.  He got  job with Chicago, and got picked up by Pittsburgh when the Blackhawks tried to send him back to the minors.  He found himself on Sidney Crosby's wing and scored 18 points in 19 games.

That was the situation in July of 2006, when Hilbert was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Islanders.  Despite that flash of offensive ability in Pittsburgh, his goal and point totals in New York have been underwhelming:

  • 2006-07: 81GP - 8G - 20A - 28PTS
  • 2007-08: 70GP - 8G - 8A - 16PTS
  • 2008-09: 67GP - 11G - 16A - 27PTS

Yet, there is one thing that stands out about Hilbert: his plus/minus.  Here are his numbers for those three seasons, and in brackets next to them the Islanders' total plus/minus as a team:

  • 2006-07: +10 (+5)
  • 2007-08: +2 (-51)
  • 2008-09: -3 (-76)
  • Totals: +9 (-122)

That's significant.  Andy Hilbert has consistently put up decent +/- numbers over three seasons with one of the NHL's worst franchises.  It isn't easy to do that.  It becomes more difficult given that Hilbert:

  • routinely played against top opponents
  • routinely played with poor linemates
  • took far more defensive zone than offensive zone draws

Last season, Hilbert earned 700,000 $.  He isn't likely to get much of a raise on that this year; in fact, he may be in tight to get a regular NHL job at all.  If the price is right, Hilbert could be at worst a very effective fourth-liner, and at best a possible replacement for Ethan Moreau on the third line.  He'll be useful on the penalty-kill and he'll certainly do more to help the Oilers win hockey games than most of the young fringe guys looking for a lineup spot.