Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, who was wearing black as he told the media Thursday that the game’s best defenceman Erik Karlsson was gone for the season, jokingly said he’s getting lots of calls from “sympathetic” brethren around the league.

These are always tricky times for general managers when one of their own loses a stud player. They want to offer their condolences because–but for the grace of the hockey gods it could have been them losing a Karlsson– but they don’t want to appear like they’re an ambulance chaser. The don’t want to appear like Paul Newman in that classic movie The Verdict where he’s a down-and-out lawyer Frank Galvin, always first at the scene of an accident, with his card for any prospective client.

Undoubtedly, the first words out of other GM’s mouths are “geez, Bryan, what an awful break, that’s terrible news” before they eventually get around to “I was thinking, would you have any use for my guy…he was a heckuva player but, you know, we’re going in a different direction, and it wouldn’t cost you too much because his contract’s up July 1.”

Which brings us to the obvious question. Has Edmonton Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini called Murray on Ryan Whitney?

Probably.

We don’t know if Whitney will be a healthy scratch for a fourth time in the last seven games when Colorado Avalanche are here Saturday night, but if Whitney is in the lineup, how long will he be in the lineup? Right now he’s in rotation mode with Corey Potter and Mark Fistric. He has to win back the trust of the coaching staff or he’ll get traded.

He’s gone from the dazzling high of his early Oiler days when he had 38 points in 54 games and was plus 20 after his trade from Anaheim in March of 2010 until he wrecked a tendon in his ankle right after Christmas that year, to his situation now where you’re asking every day “is Whitney in or out?”

Murray says he’s not waving the white flag on the season. He still wants to make the playoffs. He’s not giving away a first-round draft pick or a high-end prospect for a defenceman, but he does need help, and right now. There aren’t a lot of teams carrying extra D-men of Whitney’s pedigree. And Ottawa does need an offensive D-man if they’re losing Karlsson. I’m sure the Habs would move Tomas Kaberle now that P.K. Subban is back. Washington’s not playing UFA Roman Hamrlik but he’s 38. Mike Komisarek in Toronto is a defensive D-man. Tampa’s got Marc-Andre Bergeron, a shooter from the back-end. Nashville would give up Jonathan Blum, younger than the rest but with blemishes.