The Choice

Jonathan Willis
April 10 2014 12:07AM

84-Klefbom-5

There are only so many slots available for young defencemen on an NHL roster, which is why it makes sense to think that only one of Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse will play for the Edmonton Oilers next season.

The Depth Chart

2-Petry-12

  • Justin Schultz (RFA): 23:26 minutes per game, 120 games of experience
  • Jeff Petry (RFA): 21:36 minutes per game, 234 games of experience
  • Andrew Ference: 21:03 minutes per game, 831 games of experience
  • Martin Marincin: 19:09 minutes per game, 42 games of experience

We can reasonably assume those four names. To that group we can add players from three sources: external additions, holdovers (any of Mark Fraser, Philip Larsen or Anton Belov) and youth.

As it stands, the Oilers will be icing a minimum of three defencemen with less than 250 games of experience, two with less than two full seasons under their belts, and at least one with less than a full season.

I would argue it isn’t at all a good idea for the Oilers to go into next season with five of their top seven below that 250 game mark, four under the two season mark, or three with less than a year’s experience. If Craig MacTavish agrees with me, that sets the cap for fresh rookies at one.

Who Will It Be?

84-Klefbom-4

Oscar Klefbom has been a welcome addition to the Oilers’ defence corps. His player type – the big guy who isn’t totally incompetent with the puck – is one that’s been widely reputed to exist but hasn’t been seen in Edmonton for some time. He’s a very good skater, he’s strong enough to win battles in the corners and his puck-moving ability dramatically exceeds his point totals.

He’s rawer than Marincin, but his strength gives him an important edge that his teammate lacks.

Darnell Nurse

Darnell Nurse was assigned to Oklahoma City yesterday, and in a lot of ways his scouting report reads like Klefbom’s. Nurse has far shinier point totals and a reputation for a mean streak that Klefbom lacks, and it’s almost certainly not a stretch to project him as the better player long-term, but the problem for him is readiness. Klefbom’s older and more seasoned, and there’s no real downside in letting Nurse have another year of junior hockey (everything I’ve read and heard says he’s still progressing).

The wild card here is Aaron Ekblad, who might be the Oilers’ first round pick at this summer’s draft. He would figure into this conversation. Also figuring into this discussion are things like how Klefbom closes out the year, what Nurse looks like in the AHL, who gets added over the summer and what happens in training camp.

But right now, assuming no Ekblad, I’d slot Klefbom into the Oilers’ lineup and send Nurse back to junior.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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.
Avatar
#51 Ivan Drago
April 10 2014, 10:19AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
19
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

How about we just go ahead and let everyone express their opinions freely .No one is making anyone here read anything they don't want to.

Sometimes venting is therapeutical.

Go ahead and express your opinion, on the TOPIC at hand. Otherwise the next time someone writes an article about Halls corsi, we might as well discuss politics and religion in the comments section.

If Brownlee or some other blogger writes an article about Oilers management, which they have, then fire away in the comments about management.

Avatar
#52 Spydyr
April 10 2014, 10:22AM
Trash it!
14
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Ivan Drago wrote:

Go ahead and express your opinion, on the TOPIC at hand. Otherwise the next time someone writes an article about Halls corsi, we might as well discuss politics and religion in the comments section.

If Brownlee or some other blogger writes an article about Oilers management, which they have, then fire away in the comments about management.

Pretty well every article here goes back to Oilers management or mismanagement.

This is a hockey blog IMO anything to do with hockey goes. Politics and religion not so much.There are many other places one can go for that.

Avatar
#53 Felix
April 10 2014, 10:23AM
Trash it!
32
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

It does not matter.

Oilers will have another lottery pick next year and the one after and so on. They think they can keep young D's and young F's and the team will eventually get better. Their philosophy is to lose.

Oilers can get the #1 pick for the next 5 years , they will still be losers.

Avatar
#54 CaptainLander
April 10 2014, 10:26AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
17
cheers

Niskanen Nikitin Ference Schultz K-Bom Marincin Nurse

This would be a nice UFA win to me. Hate to see what you would have to pay N&N to come here but I think they would both be nice targets. Both are only 27 and have played fairly prominent roles for their teams this year.

Maybe its my German heritage talking but I would draft Leon Draisaitl over Ekblad. This team is desperate for that big, skilled centerman as much as they are for 1-2 d-men. The difference is we may already have a 1-2 d-man in the system and there are a couple options in the UFA market and although some of them may be aging the likely still have some game left (Boyle, Markov, Timmonen. But this centerman is no where in sight. So much like Barkov last year I see Draisaitl moving up. Could he really have a worse year next year then Gags had this year?

Avatar
#55 Will
April 10 2014, 10:28AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Felix wrote:

It does not matter.

Oilers will have another lottery pick next year and the one after and so on. They think they can keep young D's and young F's and the team will eventually get better. Their philosophy is to lose.

Oilers can get the #1 pick for the next 5 years , they will still be losers.

I think as fans we are not comfortable with the idea of certain players being traded. I'm sure management knows it can't ice another inexperienced team again next year. But knowing and doing are two different things.

He will either have to overpay an injury prone vet free agent, or trade away the future. Both options are not that attractive.

Avatar
#56 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 10 2014, 10:29AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

@Spydyr

That's unfortunate. Must be a Slats related issue, since it was long before Lowes time here.

There's just something about his character and humility that is in dire need in this organization right now.

Avatar
#57 Jerod
April 10 2014, 10:29AM
Trash it!
14
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers

Oilers ruin players and when they reach their bottom , the GM comes in and trys to trade them, except no one wants them at the price Oilers are selling at. Oiler management destroys confidence in the room, because they don't have a clue what they are doing. 8 years of losing and they need to move Taylor Hall around the lines to get offence. 1 player 8 years.

This is a comedy isn't it. No one could be this stupid.

Avatar
#58 Spydyr
April 10 2014, 10:32AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

That's unfortunate. Must be a Slats related issue, since it was long before Lowes time here.

There's just something about his character and humility that is in dire need in this organization right now.

The team sure could use his character and humility.

Avatar
#59 Ivan Drago
April 10 2014, 10:32AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

Pretty well every article here goes back to Oilers management or mismanagement.

This is a hockey blog IMO anything to do with hockey goes. Politics and religion not so much.There are many other places one can go for that.

Hardly any of the articles are directed at management. Those with tunnel vision skew every article to be about something management did or didn't do. When Willis does an article about how Ebs can't sustain his shooting % (just an example), people like you blame it on Lowe.

Avatar
#60 sheldon
April 10 2014, 10:32AM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
33
cheers

I'm curious, Do most fans not like Petry or is this just Edmonton media guys blowing things out of proportion to get a story again. On most boards I visit and people I talk to think Petry is a good player, they just wish he would hit more(which is true with practically every valuable player). Anytime someone says Petry sucks I see numerous fans jump to defend him so many fans do see his value, the guy is playing first pairing minutes and although he's not perfect doing a lot better than most dmen in the league could do. give this post props for yay petry, trash for nay petry

Avatar
#61 Tikkanese
April 10 2014, 10:33AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
19
cheers

Why is Fedun never in these conversations? He is arguably the most seasoned of all the kids.

Avatar
#62 Spydyr
April 10 2014, 10:41AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers
Tikkanese wrote:

Why is Fedun never in these conversations? He is arguably the most seasoned of all the kids.

He has been passed over in the depth chart by Klefbom and Marcinin soon to be Nurse and Ekblad if he does indeed get drafted by the Oilers.

Fedun's window was the year he got hurt.It does suck to be him.Tough ,tough break literately and figuratively.

Avatar
#63 Ari Gold
April 10 2014, 10:42AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
Jerod wrote:

Oilers ruin players and when they reach their bottom , the GM comes in and trys to trade them, except no one wants them at the price Oilers are selling at. Oiler management destroys confidence in the room, because they don't have a clue what they are doing. 8 years of losing and they need to move Taylor Hall around the lines to get offence. 1 player 8 years.

This is a comedy isn't it. No one could be this stupid.

Though you come off as quite the pessimist, I whole heartedly agree. This organization has been a black hole as far as drafting and development goes.

Currently, however, it looks like OKC has been doing well for development. Marincin, Arco and Pitlick have all looked a lot better than we expected. Granted, Lander just can't adjust to the timing and space of the NHL and Acton is benefitting from daddy behind the bench. I still think the development side of the organization is turning the corner.

Drafting is a big concern. First rounders are no-brainers in my opinion: you're getting an NHL player. Oilers second round and beyond picks are notoriously absent from NHL lineups.

With Smyth and Hemsky being the only top 6 forwards being drafted 1994-2008, it's obvious that management repeatedly dropped the ball.

Etown either needs to be a desired destination for players, have a culture of winning or be a draft juggernaut, like Detroit. Sadly our team is none of those three. I wish for them to turn the corner but I find myself planning for guaranteed fun those nights they're playing rather than watching the blood bath.

Avatar
#64 BobbyCanuck
April 10 2014, 10:51AM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

Yes, not a lot of D-Men available that would not require an over pay.

I do see some options

1) Play the youngsters on D all year, and then when we go 1-9 to start the season, Hall demands a trade, we could easily get a 1D for him. This would also help insure that we lose our honour for Conner

2) One, if not more of the heavy defensive contenders get badly bounced in the first round because they cannot score enough goals, will be looking at us to get a goal scorer or two and willing to trade top D men(s) to ge it done.

Frankly, if we are not willing to be in the draft lotto position for the next couple of years, we are going to have to trade someone that the Oil faithful would be loathe to trade

Avatar
#65 Dave
April 10 2014, 10:51AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
Spydyr wrote:

He is weak on the boards weak in the corners does not win puck battles and gets knocked off the puck easily and does not stand in front of the opponents goal. He sure has pretty shootout moves though.

What do you think?

Looks like Gagner needs to become a coach or a media personality.

Avatar
#66 Tuningout
April 10 2014, 10:58AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Oh man tough call. I would like to see Nurse play a few games next year. But realistically nurse and Ekblad/Draisaitl should be back in junior next year. Marincin and Klefbom should be enough rookies (kinda rookies) next year. I have hope for the Oilers. But only in 2-3 years when new rexall is built. Sucks. But after this draft. And maybe next years. The Oilers are set and should compete for a long time. Despite DEakins best attempts at destroying Yak.

I don't care what happens next year. I just want to see progress from Yak. Yakupov and Yakimov. Very important forward pieces.

15/16 bring in Nurse and Ekblad/Drasaitl. Scary good. On defence. Let's see Dillon Simpson late next year.

So realistically I don't see the Oilers being good until 16/17 season.

Avatar
#67 Vinny
April 10 2014, 11:20AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Guys like that don't come cheap though, and they also want to win one before they retire. I see where you're coming from though.

Maybe a wounded soul warrior like Lee Fogolin could help these kids. Lee hasn't been corrupted by the entitlement era that seems to have taken hold in coaching/management. One mentor, who would also make Kevin Lowe take notice. Bringing these kids along is much more important than how the fanbase will perceive Lowes centered efforts.

I hear Chris Pronger's not doing too much these days. I know reality doesn't allow such a thing to happen, but it'd be nice to have a guy like him to show these kids the ropes.

Call Pronger (or another recent ~retired top dman) a defensive consultant or whatever, since we can't seem to make space in the assistant coach ranks.

It wouldn't even need to be full-time, just get some insight for these blue chip prospects into how a top 2 dman plays this game.

Avatar
#68 MrBig
April 10 2014, 11:20AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Given the depth of Defensive prospects, the Oilers will not rush out to get Ekblad unless he falls in their lap at 3rd overall (which is not likely to happen). They will move out Gagner and bring in Draisatl. I wouldn't be surprised in Yakupov is moved either, though I don't want him moved yet...

Avatar
#69 Sam
April 10 2014, 11:23AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

My guess for the draft for the Oilers first pick. If they pick #4 and these 3 guys are gone I could see them trading down or the pick.

1. Ekblad 2. Bennett 3. Draisaitl

Avatar
#70 Dog Train
April 10 2014, 11:33AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

I would lean towards Klefbom. He has at least played some games at this level now. Patience will be best for Nurse in the long run. He has all the talent he needs but it will take time to refine it.

Avatar
#71 David
April 10 2014, 11:43AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

I would be very happy with Bennett.

Sam Reinhart had 105 pts in 60 games ONLY 11 minutes in penalties and

born November 1995

Sam Bennett 91 pts in 57 games and 118 minutes in penalties and born

June 1996

Even strength Reinhart and Bennett are about the same in points

Avatar
#72 Bucknuck
April 10 2014, 11:56AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

I love the fact that there are too many young D-men with huge potential.

I hate the fact that the Oilers D is so thin that they are better than most of the players we have.

I think one of the kids will be moved as part of a package for a top pairing defenseman. I hate to see any of them go, but you have to give up something to get something, rookie D-men with top four potential are an Oiler 'strength'.

One of the top six, plus the kid D-man might be enough to get a true top pairing defender, and that would scoot everyone down the depth chart where they belong.

Avatar
#73 2004Z06
April 10 2014, 12:38PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

The biggest difference between what happened in Vancouver and what has yet to happen in Edmonton is that half the seats in Vancouver were empty and the other half were full of folks chanting "fire Gillis"

Will never happen here....Too many folks still drunk on the kool-aid!

Oh and why is it a blog writers job to drive change in the organization? Isn't that the responsibility of the fanbase? Do you honestly think Lowe would still be POHO if three years ago folks stopped renewing season seats and buying merchandise?

Be glad these guys take the time to write anything at all that allows you to post your comments, however misguided they may be!

Avatar
#74 nuge2nail
April 10 2014, 12:47PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Oiler Domination to Follow...

Trust me it's comin!

When we draft Ekblad we will be a dynasty once again!

Avatar
#75 Ed in Edmonton
April 10 2014, 12:49PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

@sheldon

Petry is an NHL calibre player but I wonder if he is the right fit for the Oil at this point. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is playing more minutes and tougher minutes than he really should. However, he is now well over 200 NHL games plus how many in the AHL? What we see is probably pretty close to what he will be.

He moves well, very good straight ahead speed. But is prone to coffing up the puck when pressured gets knocked of the puck easily and rarely wins a puck battle.

I think he and Schutlz are too similar to be on the a successful Oil team and one will need to go at some time, but not necessarily this year. Schultz has come along farther and has more offensive up side, so he seems more like the keeper.

It will be interesting to see what salaries these can get this summer.

Avatar
#76 2004Z06
April 10 2014, 12:50PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers
Sam wrote:

My guess for the draft for the Oilers first pick. If they pick #4 and these 3 guys are gone I could see them trading down or the pick.

1. Ekblad 2. Bennett 3. Draisaitl

Why the defenseman? This team has at least some depth on Defense in the system. Ekblad is not going to step in as your number one D in the forseeable future (if at all). By comparison, this organization has ZERO depth at center.

If you are looking at this years draft to help the team improve today, then you trade the pick for an NHL player.

If you are looking at the draft to improve organizational depth, then you take the big centerman Draisaitl or Bennett.

Hell either of them might be able to come in as a 3/4 line guy next year a la Sean Monahan in Calgary.

I just don't see why everyone is so eager to draft another D man when we desperately need centermen.

Avatar
#77 2004Z06
April 10 2014, 12:54PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Vinny wrote:

I hear Chris Pronger's not doing too much these days. I know reality doesn't allow such a thing to happen, but it'd be nice to have a guy like him to show these kids the ropes.

Call Pronger (or another recent ~retired top dman) a defensive consultant or whatever, since we can't seem to make space in the assistant coach ranks.

It wouldn't even need to be full-time, just get some insight for these blue chip prospects into how a top 2 dman plays this game.

Unfortunately if Pronger retires or takes another job in any organization, he forfeits that fat cheque every month that the Flyers are paying him.

No to mention Lauren wouldn't let him come back to where his illegitimate child and baby momma are still living.

Avatar
#78 David S
April 10 2014, 02:48PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination to Follow...

Trust me it's comin!

When we draft Ekblad we will be a dynasty once again!

OK man look. This domination thing?

We need to talk.

Avatar
#79 Oiler Al
April 10 2014, 02:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Glad we are finally off the " lets get Weber" deal.

Sights will have to be lowered, because unless your name is Millbury no team gives up stud DMen at any price, and even those wont come easy to the Oilers.

What if:

Schultz = Nisknen Petry = Marincin Ferance = Klefbom Extra = Andre Benoit

This might buy some time for development of home grown guys.

Nurse back to Junior Simpson AHL, Eckbald ain't coming to Edmonton, That ship will have sailed unless Oilers wint the Lotto.

Fraser AHL, or where ever. Larsen, covert to forward.

Not bold but an improvement from today.

PS; Nisknen and Boniot could be sub'd for other mid level D men.

Avatar
#80 Rama Lama
April 10 2014, 03:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

Detroit Model please...........keep these guys in the AHL where we have a real coach that has demonstrated a real ability to develop players.

Once they have been properly developed then bring up the cream of the crop.......and not one second before! Making Nurse, or Ekblad learn from Eakins is quite frankly sheer madness!

Avatar
#81 Total Points
April 10 2014, 03:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

Trade some of the "potential" defensemen and the first round pick for NHL ready players. Many "potential" players and 1st round draft picks never pan out. Let Nurse, Klefbom and others mature in the minors

Look at how we were sure that 1st round draft picks Dubnyk, Gagner, Pavarri, Cogaliano, etc would be the answer.

I am tired of waiting for the future

Avatar
#82 2004Z06
April 10 2014, 03:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Total Points wrote:

Trade some of the "potential" defensemen and the first round pick for NHL ready players. Many "potential" players and 1st round draft picks never pan out. Let Nurse, Klefbom and others mature in the minors

Look at how we were sure that 1st round draft picks Dubnyk, Gagner, Pavarri, Cogaliano, etc would be the answer.

I am tired of waiting for the future

I would take Cogliano over any of the others on your list all day, every day!

Avatar
#83 2004Z06
April 10 2014, 03:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

Can the bottom feeders can start dealing in 4 days?

I am trying to find joy in the little things.....

Avatar
#84 Woogie63
April 10 2014, 04:15PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

The Choice ....

We need to make some choices on the farm as well.

How are we developing Gernat and Musil and are we signing Simpson.

We also have to choose if Nurse will learn ENOUGH with a FOURTH year of junior hockey ... he has played more major junior then Klefbom

OR

can he hang around the Oilers and learn more than the Soo can provide????

Avatar
#85 Spoils
April 10 2014, 06:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

please let Nurse (and Ekblad) develop properly. please leave them in the minors where they can get tons of 1st line minutes and special team play.

Avatar
#86 kboof
April 10 2014, 06:19PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

@Britts94

Obviously, and that's why you pair them with a veteran defenceman, kind of like the one we traded away....Smid

Avatar
#87 nuge2nail
April 10 2014, 10:30PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination to Follow...

Trust me it's comin!

When we draft Ekblad we will be a dynasty once again!

Oiler Domination To Follow

Not cool.

Avatar
#88 nuge2nail
April 10 2014, 10:30PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination to Follow...

Trust me it's comin!

When we draft Ekblad we will be a dynasty once again!

Oiler Domination To Follow

Not cool.

Avatar
#89 NJ
April 10 2014, 11:03PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Re: developing defensemen in Junior. It's not about if they can learn more in the NHL. It's more about TOI. In the NHL, most on our list would play 15ish minutes, or forced into roles where their confidence gets devastated by the likes of Getzlaf and other "men". In Junior Nurse can go play 22+ minutes a night, which in fact IS better for his development than anything. Then he can spend a couple more in the AHL. In 2+ years maybe he's ready for an NHL job. But slow and steady wins the race with d-men.

Look at Detroit. They leave guys down in the AHL until they're absolutely 100% NHL ready. They had to find a way to get Nyquist up this year with cap issues. He comes up and slot in perfectly. I understand Babcock and Eakins are not comparable but the model is a good one. however Eakins and Todd Nelson ARE comparable coaches and there's not a chance I want "another" AHL coach to come experiment with the Oil.

Our defensive depth is almost hilarious. Willis has been telling us all year that Fedun should be right there as he's been the most solid all year in OKC. He played 4 NHL games and scored twice. Now, I understand that it would be unlikely that he could maintain that scoring rate but a smart puck mover who could put in 15 a year while being smart about it SHOULD have a place on this team. We also know damn well he'll bust his butt out there. All thing being equal though, I agree with Gregor in that we need veteran defensemen here in the interim to fill the spots while the d kids develop. Unfortunately, our forwards have about 3-5 years to peek, which doesn't match our d. So? Time for MacT to work some magic.

Lastly. Draft a centre please. I love Ekblad. He's 4-5 years from a real legit #1 IF he ever will be. Give me size down the middle and someone with Nurse's grit please.

Comments are closed for this article.