On December 3, 2011 Evan Oberg was acquired as part of a four skater trade between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. Three days later he was called up from Tampa’s American League affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, but was continually scratched until being sent back down to the Admirals on December 9, 2011. Now this is not an unusual occurrence, especially considering the blue-liners have taken as many shifts on the injury list as shifts on the ice. But it has led many to jokingly question whether or not he exists, or as one fan stated (@torchramrod) he is “Yzerman in disguise.”
Since Oberg has joined the Lightning organization, he has been called up six times, December 6-9, December 12-13, December 17-18, December 19-23, December 29 – January 6, and lastly January 19. Now getting the call up to the big show is of course great, but unfortunately this 6’0” 200lbs Defenseman has yet to play a game for the Bolts, he has been there for warm-ups and practices of course, but has not yet had his chance during a game. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it shows the team is a little more stable on the blue-line. What is bad about this situation is that he is missing valuable playing time in either league.
Collectively, Oberg has been called up to the Lightning for a total of 25 days. In that time he has not played in 11 games for the Lightning and so far has missed out on 9 games for the Admirals. Being able to practice with the Lightning is no doubt a boon for his development, but the increased back and forth travel and lack of either major or minor league competitive play is not good for the young defenseman. If he finally gets his chance to play in the big show, great, it will afford him the opportunity to add to his four games-played (with Vancouver) NHL experience. If not, let him get back to Norfolk, and continue to refine his skills there, so that he is even more prepared for the NHL level of play.
In all, with the Lightning’s current knack for inopportune injuries, I completely understand why management brings him in, “just in case.” I would just like to see the guy get some playing time on either Tampa or Norfolk ice. Best of luck to you Evan Oberg!
Take care and take it easy,
– Jim Courteau