What the Oilers have/What the Oilers Need: Defence & Goaltending

Jonathan Willis
February 09 2014 01:39PM

This is the second part in a series we started yesterday. We looked at the forward roster then, attempting to identify keepers for next season and roles that needed to be filled. We do the same today, but this time focusing on defence and goaltending.

The Blue Line

The options:

  • Anton Belov
  • Taylor Fedun
  • Andrew Ference
  • Mark Fraser
  • Oscar Klefbom
  • Martin Marincin
  • Darnell Nurse
  • Jeff Petry
  • Corey Potter
  • Justin Schultz
  • Nick Schultz

The problem here is that the Oilers really don’t have anybody on the team who should be playing above the No. 3 slot on an NHL team.

There are some keepers, though. On the right side, Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz are both legitimate NHL defencemen; on the left side Andrew Ference was a No. 4 in Boston before signing with Edmonton. To that group we should likely add Martin Marincin, who has been unexpectedly good since being recalled from the AHL. Ideally, that quartet would furnish the Oilers with their bottom-four group, but that’s likely impossible given the lack of top-end defencemen available either via trade or free agency.

Assuming that those four players mentioned above will need to fill four of the top-five slots on the Oilers’ blue line and an external addition will take the other, that leaves the six/seven slots open for a mix of current NHL’ers and up-and-coming prospects. From the current group, we can likely cull Nick Schultz (deadline move), Mark Fraser (not good enough) and Corey Potter (a decent No. 6/7 who has had injury problems and is in the downslope of his career).

That leaves four players. Anton Belov has had an up-and-down campaign, in some games looking like the Oilers’ best defender but more recently falling outside the regular rotation. Taylor Fedun is an exceptional No. 1 AHL defenceman and looked good in a cameo, but has a year of waiver exemption remaining despite being an older prospect. Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse are both gifted youngsters, but both play the left side (where Marincin is likely to take the third-pairing role) and there’s no reason they can’t be sent back to the AHL and junior, respectively (though Nurse is likely to get an NHL cameo if he shows well in camp).

It’s a highly fluid situation and could change depending on what happens after the Olympics, but as things stand I’d pencil in Fedun as the No. 7, Klefbom as the first call-up, Nurse in major junior and send Belov down the line. It would be nice if Fedun and Belov both got NHL ice time down the stretch, as keeping Belov in the No. 7 role and bumping Fedun down to the AHL to start next season is another option. Both could be retained, but Edmonton is likely better off adding a veteran right-shooting presence on the starboard side to partner with Marincin.

Goaltenders

The options:

  • Ilya Bryzgalov
  • Richard Bachman
  • Ben Scrivens

Both of the Oilers’ current goalies fall into the 1A/1B level presently. Bryzgalov was a successful starter but has had a tough few seasons, while Scrivens has promise as a starter but hasn’t proved anything yet.

Should the Oilers keep one and add a veteran starter via free agency? Possibly, depending on what the market for those guys is; I’d be very tempted to retain Scrivens and add someone like Jaroslav Halak to battle him for playing time rather than spending big money on marquee goalie like Jonas Hiller. There’s nothing wrong with keeping Scrivens and Bryzgalov both, though, and it might allow them to be more aggressive at other positions in free agency if they have a low-cost tandem.

There’s also nothing wrong with Richard Bachman as the third-string goalie.

Completed Roster

As with yesterday's roster, there is wiggle room here. We've mentioned Bryzgalov and Belov as particular examples of players who could be retained in one role or another. Another possibility is that the Oilers can add a top right-side defenceman, which would bump Ference and Marincin up one slot each and move Schultz and Petry down one spot. 

In both this post and yesterday's post, these "completed rosters" are more flexible guidelines, designed to be adjusted depending on what players are available and what happens down the stretch. But again, this is the basic framework I'd endeavour to execute prior to the trade deadline and then over the summer. 

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#151 Mason Storm
February 10 2014, 06:56PM
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Ivan Drago wrote:

Anyone who replies to a DSF comment is a sucker. Please email me your SIN and credit card info I have a great deal for you. Thanks.

If it's that ocean front property in Saskatchewan, I'm not falling for that again. Got anything in Arizona tho?

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#152 dougtheslug
February 10 2014, 06:56PM
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Cynic wrote:

Not that I think any UFA in his right mind would sign with The Mickey Mouse Club. And I'd guess that Edmonton and Winnipeg have the crappiest weather in the NHL. However... "Buffalo" and "desirable" do not belong in the same sentence. Like Edmonton, it looks better covered in snow. When it's below zero and the humidity is 100% and the wind is blowing it's unbearable. They've been bankrupt 3 times.

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mlj45jggj/10-buffalo/

That is all.

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#153 **
February 10 2014, 07:49PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Except for skill, skating, stickhandling, vision, and general passing ability, Fraser is all world!

Yea I like his toughness but the man is incapable of handling the puck. He will come in handy every so often when we play a big team.

If all we want from these kind of players is size and aggression, I take Fraser over Fistric any day.

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#154 DSF
February 10 2014, 08:34PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Why are we discussing who's better between the two worst teams in the league.

Who cares, they both suck.

What to talk about the Leafs instead?

How 'bout that Kessel kid?

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#155 nuge2nail
February 10 2014, 09:00PM
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DSF wrote:

What to talk about the Leafs instead?

How 'bout that Kessel kid?

Oiler Domination To Follow

I don't know, maybe what the oilers have and what the oilers need:defense and goaltending.

Ufa targets(34+ mil in cap space), trade targets(gagner), lottery picks....

Why compare the two worst teams forward and defense prospects, both teams suck and need lots of improvement.

That improvement is not coming from prospects.

Reinhert, Hodgson

Reinhert, Hopkins

Ekblad, Myers, Erhoff, Ristolainen, Zadorav

Ekblad, Nurse, Shultz, Marincin, Petry

As long as both these teams finish bottom two they will improve one of their weaknesses.

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#156 DSF
February 11 2014, 08:31AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

I don't know, maybe what the oilers have and what the oilers need:defense and goaltending.

Ufa targets(34+ mil in cap space), trade targets(gagner), lottery picks....

Why compare the two worst teams forward and defense prospects, both teams suck and need lots of improvement.

That improvement is not coming from prospects.

Reinhert, Hodgson

Reinhert, Hopkins

Ekblad, Myers, Erhoff, Ristolainen, Zadorav

Ekblad, Nurse, Shultz, Marincin, Petry

As long as both these teams finish bottom two they will improve one of their weaknesses.

Reinhart - Hodgson- Grigerenko - Ennis - Girgensons - Konopka

Reinhart - Hopkins - Gordon - Arcobello - Acton?

Ekblad - Ehrhoff - Meyers - Ristolainen - Zadorov - McNabb - Pysyk

Ekblad - Schultz - Nurse - Marincin - Petry - Klefbom?

It's all about depth.

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#157 nuge2nail
February 11 2014, 08:58AM
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DSF wrote:

Reinhart - Hodgson- Grigerenko - Ennis - Girgensons - Konopka

Reinhart - Hopkins - Gordon - Arcobello - Acton?

Ekblad - Ehrhoff - Meyers - Ristolainen - Zadorov - McNabb - Pysyk

Ekblad - Schultz - Nurse - Marincin - Petry - Klefbom?

It's all about depth.

Oiler Domination To Follow

Well both teams will have 30+ million in cap space this offseason, so depth will be baught this offseason.

Your not even making sense anymore. And after Gordan its Hendricks, and Lander(who's having an awesome season in okc as captain averaging over a point per game)

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#158 DSF
February 11 2014, 09:06AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Well both teams will have 30+ million in cap space this offseason, so depth will be baught this offseason.

Your not even making sense anymore. And after Gordan its Hendricks, and Lander(who's having an awesome season in okc as captain averaging over a point per game)

Yeah, forgot about Hendricks but he's just a Konopka equivalent.

As for Lander, Buffalo has C Luke Adam in the AHL who has 34 points in 32 games.

Cap Geek has the Oilers with a projected $33M in free cap space and Buffalo at $43M BEFORE they buy out Leino's $4.5M contract.

The difference between $33M and $48Ms buy you some pretty nice players.

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#159 dougtheslug
February 11 2014, 09:53AM
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@nuge2nail

DSF's new obsession with Buffalo's "depth" is flat out weird bordering on creepy. It lends credence to the theory that DSF is really Wanye in disguise, trolling to increase traffic on ON.

My advice is to back slowly away from the computer and find something more productive to do than argue with DSF. I know I have a sock drawer that needs sorting.

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#160 Fuhr4Life
February 12 2014, 12:50AM
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@Devolution

Really great post! Been looking for something like this going into detail of who we could realistically get as a #1 D man. I agree Macdonald might be the best case as we don't have to give up anything and signing him as a free agent. Would love to see my hometown Saskatoon Blade Mike Green (great pp quarterback and decent D), been hearing WSH would trade him maybe we could get him for N.Shultz + 2nd Rounder + Gagner or Hemsky. If they asked to add a prospect D, we could offer Gernat or Musil and get them to add Brower (shut down power forward). Not too much to give up for a potential top D-man and 3rd line power forward winger. Thoughts?

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#161 Fuhr4Life
February 12 2014, 12:56AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Agreed! I would welcome Markov for 2-3 years with open arms. Great limit on how his style and skill don't decline as fast as a less skilled one dimensional 34 year olds like Ference. Plus a bonus to all of the games he's missed the past 3-4 years is less wear and tear and minutes he's logged. So he's a young 34, more like a 32 year old with plenty of skill. Wound my pay him more than 6 mill though.

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#162 Fuhr4Life
February 12 2014, 12:57AM
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Sorry great point not limit hehe

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#163 Fuhr4Life
February 12 2014, 01:06AM
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@Jonathan Willis

I also like the tandem, hope they can keep it up and Bryz does have playoff experience. Wondering what it would take to get Cam Ward as our #1. He's locked in for 4 years I believe at around 5.5 mill. Might have to be a 3 team trade with a team with 2 starting Goalies so the Canes could have a replacement for Ward because they for sure wont want any of our goalies even though they are playing great right now.

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#164 Fuhr4Life
February 12 2014, 01:30AM
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I have a feeling our Oilers are going to have a great second half of the season moving up 2-3 spots in the conference by the end which means not having a Top 3 pick not like 6-10 pick. I would definitely trade our 1st 2014 rounder if it can help land a legit #1 D-man. Scrivens is definitely going to sign, the Oul were his team growing up and he's always wanted to play here, he has #1 G potential and only 27. We also need a 2 way power forward badly, how set you think the Bruins are on Iggy? Wouldn't take too much to get him and kills 4 birds 1.Top 6 Power forward winger 2. 2-Way play 3. Loads of Experience 4. Leadership galore (and from Edmonton!).

I'd say Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Yak , J.Shultz, Nurse are untouchable and trade any and everyone one else, picks, prospects veterans. Even if we can get a Brad Stuart type top 4 D, Iginla ish veteran 2 way power forward, 2nd line C (Stastny?) we can always try for Markov and Macdonald in free agency. So please let's stop with the trading Ebs talk already, its a horrible idea.. he's our Glen Anderson ie. will be scoring the clutch goals when we are in the playoffs! Next year J.Shultz will be a monster and the young guns will be unstoppable too, I like think positive hehe.

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#165 Athabascajim
February 13 2014, 05:03PM
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Randaman wrote:

That's because Petry plays pretty soft most of the time. Someone should try to piss him off in the dressing room before games. Just sayin...

Pretty soft? Pretty soft? Petry's picture is beside the definition of soft in the dictionary.

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