Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney entered this season facing questions over his health and mobility.
Injuries to his right ankle and knee have limited Whitney to only 86 games over the past two seasons. Lacking another blueliner with his skills and speed, the Oilers felt his absence.
While Whitney has avoided injury this season, his play has suffered, with only three points in his first 10 games and a minus-6 rating. He was a healthy scratch in last Monday's game against the Vancouver Canucks and again on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It's obvious Whitney isn't the same player he was before his ankle surgeries. The mobility that once made him such a crucial part of the Oilers defense is no longer there and opponents are now exploiting that weakness.
As The Edmonton Journal's Jonathan Willis observed, teams won't pay a premium for a diminished defenseman playing reduced minutes. Banishing him to the press box also won't help his trade value.
Willis called upon the Oilers to remain patient with Whitney and hope he either improves or compensates for his physical disadvantages. Given Whitney's been a healthy scratch twice in their past four games, the Oilers’ patience may be coming to an end.
Whitney's also slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and it appears unlikely he'll be re-signed. Given the decline in his play, along with $4 million cap hit and no-trade clause, it won't be easy to find a trade partner this season.
WEISS TO EDMONTON?
Speaking of the Oilers, Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe suggested injuries to centers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger could see them make an aggressive bid for Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers.
Panthers GM Dale Tallon dismissed the trade rumors about Weiss, claiming his intent is to re-sign the 29-year-old center, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
STRUGGLING SETOGUCHI ENDS UP ON BLOCK
Devin Setoguchi’s offensive struggles have made him the subject of trade rumors.
A three-time 20-plus goal scorer with the San Jose Sharks (including a career-best 31 goals in 2008-09) Setoguchi has been a disappointment since being dealt to the Minnesota Wild in June 2011.
Coming off a 36-point effort in 69 games last season, Setoguchi has only four points in 12 games and last week was demoted to the Wild's fourth line.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported there's talk Setoguchi is available, but he has one year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $3 million. Combine that with his declining production and the Wild will be hard-pressed to find many takers.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).