Edmonton Oilers: Does Eric Gryba Have a Future Here

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Eric Gryba impressed and earned a professional tryout to start the season, and made the opening night roster. However, he has become a healthy scratch and has fallen into the role of the seventh defender.

Considering his inability to crack the lineup, and his struggles when he draws into the defensive corps, does Gryba have a future with the team?

His Experience

Gryba is a 6-foot-4, 228-pound blueliner, who packs size and has the perfect frame for a defenceman. He is a big, physical player who can be an asset on special teams and add toughness to the game.

Not to mention, he carries experience with him, and last season with Edmonton, he played a solid defensive game. His relative Corsi sat at 0.4, and he was excellent in his role with the team. Gryba was able to balance and carry the bottom-pairing, and provided depth and insurance on the right side.

Other Players Stealing His Spotlight

The problem with Gryba is that other players are proving their worth and ability that outshines his. For instance, Matthew Benning, a right-handed defender straight out of the NCAA, has blossomed this season and proven his worth as a right-hand shot with the team.

Kris Russell, another defenceman that the Oilers signed in the offseason, has proven his ability to play the right or left side. Despite what the fancy analytics say, he has helped strengthen the defence and is a shot-blocking machine. Russell is not only versatile but fills out the top-four and does more for the team’s defence than many give him credit for.

While Benning is injured, the Oilers opted for a call-up instead of turning to Gryba. This shows somewhat of a lack of trust in the 28-year-old to fill those skates. He is a minus-5 this season and has poor stats through his games. He also has trouble covering men in the Oilers’ zone and loses track of the puck at times.

Future With the Team

Gryba is a quality defenceman to have on the team. He is physical, big and possesses toughness. When it comes to depth, he can serve as a bottom-pairing defender or serve as the extra defenceman. However, if he has a future with the Oilers, it will have to be mostly as an extra d-man.

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