Ryan Whitney emerged as Edmonton's top defenceman after his arrival late last season, but could be shut down. ((Carlos Osorio/Associated Press))

The Edmonton Oilers should find out within the next 24 hours the status of defenceman Ryan Whitney, but they're not expecting him back any time soon.

Whitney, 27, will meet with a surgeon on Monday, with the possibility his season will be shut down because of a right ankle injury. The most optimistic scenario would see him return before the end of the regular season.

"It's looking like he's going to need surgery at this point," Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said Sunday from Anaheim.

"It will be a good amount of time before he's playing again," Tambellini added.

Whitney had two goals and 25 assists in 35 games for Edmonton, but hasn't played since Dec. 28.

The Oilers acquired the Boston native at last year's trade deadline in a deal with Anaheim that saw defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky go the other way.

Edmonton's assistant captain had surgery on the same foot in the offseason.

Edmonton was dropped by the Ducks 3-2 on Sunday. The Oilers next play Tuesday, hosting Minnesota.