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Tom Gilbert Out Until February

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CHED Radio reported that Tom Gilbert will be on the shelf until "after the All-Star Game" according to Oilers' coach Tom Renney. This means the earliest the team could expect to see Gilbert in the lineup is February 2nd against Chicago in Edmonton. Edmonton is home against Detroit on February 4th, so the Oilers could target his return for either date.

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.

The Oilers have no way of replacing Gilbert's wide range of defensive skills and excellent puck-moving abilities, but in his absence Renney is using Corey Potter on the top pairing with Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry in Potter's spot on the second pairing. The Oilers will likely spend the next three weeks with the following defensive pairings:

Ladislav Smid - Corey Potter
Andy Sutton - Jeff Petry
Theo Peckham - Colten Teubert

The Oilers are going to give Smid far more minutes now and Sutton, Petry and Teubert are going to have to play in roles that are probably not commiserate with their games at this point.