Ryan Whitney had a setback with Edmonton Oilers this past season. After compiling 38 points and a +20 rating in 54 games in first season and a bit with the Oilers. Ryan Whitney had a season to forget, putting up 20 points in 51 games and a -16 rating. Whitney has been plagued with an ankle injury that has hampered his mobility around the ice, something that may hinder him for the rest of his career.
Two things need to happen in order to get Whitney back on track. One, is Whitney will need to make adjustments and become a cerebral, positional player, making smart plays in the ice he occupies. Whitney was an effortless skater prior to his ankle injuries, now its clear that the power in his stride isn’t there. The other thing that needs to happen is for the Oilers to help Whitney out by flanking him with some fluid skaters to help him deal with speed situations. The biggest issue the Oilers had this past season was the lack of mobility on the backend and their ability to deal with opponents speed. Whitney’s plus/minus was a direct reflection of this.
If I Could Grant One Wish – Health: Ryan Whitney is the alpha male on the Oilers backend. His health and his attendance are both important to the Oilers. Without him in the lineup the Oilers defense has the look of a bunch of stray cats. The Oilers need Whitney to stay healthy, but the Oilers also could use another leader to develop on the backend, a player that will be here long term. In the short term, I’m really hoping Whitney can stay healthy and give everything he has left in the tank to the Oilers for the upcoming season.
Prediction for 2013 – Will Not Finish The Season With The Oilers: Whitney is one season away from becoming an Unrestricted Free Agent. This feels much like Ales Hemsky prediction I made a year ago where I didn’t think there was a hope in high heaven that he would be back with the Oilers, but there Hemsky is, back for two more years. Its tough to say how Whitney feels about Edmonton these days. It speaks to what a professional he is. I feel Edmonton won’t be much further up the standings than they were last season, meaning someone of Whitney’s age and ability would be coveted by some teams near the trade deadline. Whether the Oilers pull the trigger on such a deal is a different matter entirely.