I think we need to take Tom Gilbert's contributions and performance in context. The former Panther is already drawing some scrutiny for his play, but I think it's much too early in the season to criticize him, and when he is dissected it should be with some perspective.
He is signed to a very reasonable contract for a player of his experience and skillset. He has two years at $2.8M per on his UFA deal, which is a bargain compared to what the Matt Nyskanens and Brooks Orpiks got this summer. He's a right-handed veteran defenceman, who come at a premium in the league, with a greater emphasis on having left-right balanced pairings nowadays.
He was brought in to change the makeup of our d-squad, to accentuate the ability to break the puck out of our zone, as opposed to being a stalwart to man the ramparts as Josh Gorges or Hal Gill were. To fault him for not being tough enough in our zone would be the same as faulting Daniel Brière for not being enough of a thumper on the forecheck, misplaced. We knew that going in.
His contract not being an anchor makes him more of custodian while the young defencemen in Hamilton are working on their game. We saw in camp that players like Greg Pateryn, Magnus Nygren and Darren Dietz are all showing promise but not quite ready. If halfway through the season they are playing at too high a level for them not to earn a callup, we can easily make decisions as far as Mr. Gilbert and Mike Weaver are concerned.
It's interesting that the Oilers have made Jeff Petry, a defenceman who might be a carbon copy of Tom Gilbert, a healthy scratch for the last two games. The buzz about him being scratched isn't apocalyptic, but rather that the Oilers might be well served to trade him, seeing as teams like the Kings and Red Wings may have already shown interest, being in the market for a right-handed puck mover for their blue line.
If Jeff Petry can be traded after not cracking the Oilers lineup, then certainly Tom Gilbert can be too, especially as injuries mount during the season around the league. So we can stop worrying about Tom Gilbert, he's delivering what was expected, cost-effective minutes from an easily tradeable asset that we acquired for nothing. Good deal.