Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Whitney still in play for trade with Carolina Hurricanes’ Joni Pitkanen lost to injury

If Steve Tambellini’s cell-phone wasn’t ringing shortly after Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Joni Pitkanen suffered a serious leg injury on an icing race for the puck Tuesday night — when is the NHL going to wake up and go to no-touch? — then Jim Rutherford isn’t doing his job.

Knowing Rutherford for some 20 years, he is a pro-active NHL general manager. With Pitkanen, the onetime Oiler D-man,badly hurt (ankle, three months),  then the Hurricanes are going to need Ryan Whitney.

I know the Oilers seem to be in a let’s-not-shuffle-the-deck mood with their lineup because they are solidly in a playoff race, and Tambellini might want to send a strong message to his players that he isn’t sending players away.

But again,with the vastly underrated minute-muncher Pitkanen done  for the season after losing an edge in his race with Troy Brouwer,  they need a defenceman and Whitney, whose play has improved, would certainly appear to be the necessary replacement.

A puck-mover for a puck-mover, so maybe Tambellini will at least have to listen.

If there are two second-round draft picks in play–Carolina is looking to move blueliner Jamie McBain, too– doesn’t he have to see what’s on Rutherford’s mind?

Rutherford did trade for a depth D-man, another former Oiler Marc-Andre Bergeron from Tampa Bay for Adam Hall and a seventh-round draft pick earlier Tuesday, but Bergy is a depth guy.

Whitney would be a top-four player on a team scuffling to win the Southeast Division.

Like I said, I don’t think Tambellini necessarily wants to trade Whitney now, even if he’s UFA in July, because he has no ready replacement.