Is Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish trying to snag an NHL defenceman?

Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish was on his cellphone while his team was skating Thursday morning, and while it could have been his wife telling her hubby to stop for a loaf of bread on the way home, it may have been another GM talking about defencemen.

Certainly, the Oilers could use an NHL veteran back there.

The Oilers cleared out Ladislav Smid and his $3.5 million cap hit for this season and three more, trading him to the Calgary Flames in November, ostensibly so they could help pay free-agent goalie Ilya Brzygalov but also because they wanted young goalie Laurent Brossoit as their cupboard was awfully bare of netminder prospects.

But moving Smid created a large hole. MacTavish is almost surely looking for immediate help on his team’s back-end because he traded him. He felt he needed more NHL-ready defencemen (top two guys) on his blueline even with Smid, but his absence has created problems, with Philp Larsen, Corey Potter and Martin Marincin among the Oilers’ top six blueliners in the lineup that faced the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

Here’s who’s available, by most accounts: the Detroit Red Wings’ Kyle Quincey, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Tim Gleason, the Florida Panthers’ Dmitry Kulikov and the Phoenix Coyotes’ David Rundblad.

The Red Wings are likely offering Quincey, 28, around the league because he hasn’t played particularly well, they like Danny DeKeyser better, and they badly need to clear out some money with major cap issues.