October 28 2012 09:57AM
Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved. This is a fascinating photo. Look at the faces of the OKC Barons on the bench and tell me hockey players don't value a guy who sticks up for them. Can't do it. Also, our friend Rob Fergsuon captured the exact moment when Colten Teubert replaced Andy Sutton on the Oilers roster. Is it that easy?
The NHL depth chart--with Andy Sutton injured and possibly at the end of his career--looks like this:
- Ladislav Smid
- Jeff Petry
- Nick Schultz
- Justin Schultz
- Ryan Whitney (#1 if completely healthy)
- Theo Peckham
- Corey Potter
Sutton's role, which was 5-6D, mentor and policeman, is likely to be awarded to Theo Peckham by default. The club can't send him down without risking waivers and haven't yet decided if he's part of the future (remember, trading young defenseman often turns out badly. The Oilers have endured the growing pains on Peckham, allowing someone else to enjoy a more mature Theo is a painful thought), so he's clearly ahead of Teubert.
IF ALL THINGS WERE EQUAL?
They're not. The Oilers have waiver options on Colten Teubert and do not have them on Theo Peckham, and Teubert has not (as of now) established himself as a clear NHL option. When the best league in the world returns, Justin Schultz is the only Baron defender who is a "sure thing" recall to the big club.
After that, all of the OKC defenders have shown the kind of inconsistency that establishes a gap between the Peckham's--who clearly struggle but have reached the point where the organization is comfortable with them playing in the NHL--and the Teubert's--still trying to defend sorties successfully in the minors.
Alex Plante--an AHL All-Star last season--seems to be in an early season fog, possibly owing to a concussion-filled pro career.
Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved. I'm not picking on Brandon Davidson, but the step from junior to the AHL is a big one. We know this from past performances by graduating defenders: it's a tough damn job on any level, but being 20, new to the league and chasing men who are older, bigger, stronger, more experienced and determined to do damage against a rookie? Hell man, that's a perfect storm.
The Oilers have so many rookies on the current blue--Schultz, Martin Marincin, Taylor Fedun and Davidson are all playing their first full seasons at the pro level. Schultz is amazing, and the others are learning on the job. Schultz aside, I don't think there's a strong candidate for recall beyond Teubert should he settle in and begin establishing consistency with the Barons.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Its pretty obvious: The NHL and AHL team have something in common: not enough established defemsemen. This was a problem before Andy Sutton went down, and it was a problem before the club decided to run 4 rookie pro's most nights in OKC.
I have a (well earned) reputation for suggesting trades should occur, but in this case there's obviously a lack of balance in OKC and in Edmonton. There are a mammoth number of young defensemen on the way, but these kids also need a mentor. At this point, the best plan might be to pair Teubert with a veteran AHL acquisition to play behind the Marincin-Schultz pairing. After that, the rookies can come along on the third pairing and maybe one of them will spend some time in Stockton this winter.
I think Todd Nelson is a helluva coach, but there's too much green on the blue.