What happens if Aaron Ekblad falls to the Oilers?

Jonathan Willis
April 25 2014 07:48AM

Ekblad

The Edmonton Oilers don’t really need defensive prospects – the organizational cupboard is loaded there. But if Aaron Ekblad, a potential franchise defenceman, falls to the team in the No. 3 slot at this summer’s draft, it’s going to be awfully hard for the club to pick somebody else.

How would the addition of Ekblad impact the rest of Edmonton’s summer planning?

Ekblad + the Current NHL Depth Chart

19-Schultz-1

The Oilers have five defencemen we can be reasonably confident will return for next season. Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry are the only locks on the right side, while on the left side Andrew Ference, Martin Marincin and probably Oscar Klefbom (over Darnell Nurse) are tagged for NHL jobs.

Ekblad, variably listed at 6’3” or 6’4” and over 210 pounds, is a do-everything defenceman with a right-handed shot who plays on the right side, so there probably isn’t a lot of concern about him being physically ready for NHL duty and there’s a natural home for him on the starboard half of the third pairing if he makes the jump immediately.

There’s an awful lot of green in that mix, though: three guys with less than a full season of experience, plus Schultz, plus Petry. Presumably Petry and Marincin would be reunited, after which the Oilers would have the option of going with a veteran (Ference/Schultz) and a rookie (Klefbom/Ekblad) pairing or splitting the two (Ference with Ekblad, Schultz with Klefbom).

None of that says ‘playoff calibre defence,' which is why the GM might look at another option. 

Delay?

Craig MacTavish9

If the Oilers draft Ekblad, they’re looking at adding a minimum of four rookie defencemen in a span of two-to-three seasons: Ekblad, Nurse, Klefbom, Marincin and whoever sneaks through from a pretty good group of second-tier prospects (Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat, David Musil, Brandon Davidson).

Delaying Ekblad for a season is a possibility that doesn’t help much in that regard; it would just mean the Oilers breaking in Nurse and Ekblad together in 2015-16.

When Craig MacTavish said “if we have to go young, we go young” with respect to the defence corps he was being pressured by two realities – the first (widely acknowledged) that it’s difficult to add impact defencemen and the second (less so) that at some point the Oilers are going to absorb the NHL learning curve of a lot of young defenders.

The longer those players get to develop outside the NHL, the less stressful that learning curve is going to be, but it’s difficult to imagine a scenario (other than collapse on the part of the players) where Ekblad/Nurse are held outside the NHL longer than 2015-16.

Pushed Out

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It already seems entirely plausible that at some point in the not too distant future, one of the Oilers’ young up-and-coming defencemen will be cashed in for immediate help. The addition of Ekblad would make that even more likely (as would a trade of the No. 3 pick for someone like Griffin Reinhart).

Who would go? Probably the low man on the draft pedigree totem pole. Marincin consistently lags behind Klefbom in the public comments made by the general manager, and presumably he falls well below not only the Swedish rookie but also back of Nurse and Ekblad, our hypothetical addition.

Marincin’s already presumably in significant danger, as he’s competing with Nurse and Klefbom for a job on the left side of the defence. The addition of another young defenceman would probably seal his fate, as it would exacerbate Edmonton's need to simultaneously acquire and clear a spot for a veteran, two moves that a Marincin trade could bring about in one transaction. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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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.
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#51 Zarny
April 25 2014, 11:15AM
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The Beaker wrote:

Sure from what I've read it seems like the argument is "the organization kills players because they dont get good players" and then "the players would be better if you gave them better players"

Then theres other minor details that make both sides mad

Nope.

First, the Bloomberg article had nothing to do with "ruining players". Hence my comment that Jeffff should actually read the article.

Second, the Oilers don't "kill" players. See Hall , Eberle and Nuge. Hockey however, is a team game. The holes in the kids' games would be drastically mitigated if they ever stepped on the ice with a D pair that actually belonged playing against top NHL lines or they had a 2nd line that could actually be effective.

If that wasn't the case TB wouldn't have finished 28th last year with the top 2 scorers in the league. And Pit would have won more than 1 Cup in the last 8 years with Crosby and Malkin.

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#52 Lochenzo
April 25 2014, 11:20AM
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I would have a summer of nightmares if Ekblad fell to Calgary.

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#53 OilersDynasty
April 25 2014, 11:47AM
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You take Ekblad. Doesn't matter if we have defensive depth and strength. Add to it and make a trade using other assets. Simple as that.

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#54 Ed in Edmonton
April 25 2014, 12:16PM
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OilersDynasty wrote:

You take Ekblad. Doesn't matter if we have defensive depth and strength. Add to it and make a trade using other assets. Simple as that.

Or just trade the pick and cut out the middle man,

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#55 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 25 2014, 12:32PM
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Lochenzo wrote:

I would have a summer of nightmares if Ekblad fell to Calgary.

Or Bennett for that matter.

We've had enough soft euro types (Draisaitl) go through here.

It doesn't matter how big the marshmallow is when you pull it from the bag. When the temperature rises, they all get roasted.

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#56 Oilers
April 25 2014, 01:04PM
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blainer wrote:

The cupboardis full of defense prospects right now. We need some size at center or even on the wing...Dal Colle..Ekblad may be that stud defender or he may be Cam Barker..Imagine if Ekblad falls to us and we had drafted Nichuskin. Our Second line of Nich, Statsny and Yak..then Ekblad in Nurses place..oh well gotta go get that crytlal Ball...

Using the Oilers past history as a metric, I would say the "cupboard" is full of overhyped talent that will "mature" and flourish on another team.

Fire Lowe

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#57 Oilers
April 25 2014, 01:08PM
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Jeffff wrote:

This is all you need to know about the Oilers.

Who is the second least efficient team in all North American sports?

Answer : The Edmonton Oilers

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2014/04/24/the-second-least-efficient-team-in-all-north-american-team-sports-here-come-the-oilers/

Does not matter who they draft , Oilers are one of the worst run teams in the world of professional sports.

THEY RUIN PLAYERS.

Yes and no, overall, management of the Oilers is clueless.

What I am finding our more and more is the Oilers fans are ignorant dreamers with no self confidence to stand up and speak out for better management.

Let the "trash" button begin!!

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#58 The Real Scuba Steve
April 25 2014, 01:34PM
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Jackson wrote:

I wonder what Kevin Lowe does when he reads this. Wait a minute I doubt he can read he does not even know the definition of winning.

Kevin Lowe read the article then gasp!, then looked at his 6 rings And then went into a euphoric smiling like daze and then read the comics.

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#59 Woogie63
April 25 2014, 01:57PM
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We are in a nice place, the first three picks appear to be equal in talent. The good news is we need help at centre and defence.

I worry about Ekbald a bit, he is basically a man (6-3, 210 lbs) playing against young 16-17-18 boys. This size advantage is huge in the CHL (think Phaneuf) and not as much in the NHL (think Phaneuf).

After RNH (who is still a prospect) who is our best prospect at center???

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#60 Cold Hard Truth
April 25 2014, 02:14PM
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Zarny wrote:

Nope.

First, the Bloomberg article had nothing to do with "ruining players". Hence my comment that Jeffff should actually read the article.

Second, the Oilers don't "kill" players. See Hall , Eberle and Nuge. Hockey however, is a team game. The holes in the kids' games would be drastically mitigated if they ever stepped on the ice with a D pair that actually belonged playing against top NHL lines or they had a 2nd line that could actually be effective.

If that wasn't the case TB wouldn't have finished 28th last year with the top 2 scorers in the league. And Pit would have won more than 1 Cup in the last 8 years with Crosby and Malkin.

There is something to the 'ruining players' argument.

As you pointed out, the holes in the lineup undoubtedly effect the play of the Oilers' high-end talent (Hall, RNH, Eberle). And with all the losing that has resulted in the various holes in the lineup, it's not a stretch to suggest that it has stunted, or at the very least has not been helpful to the kids' development. The holes in the lineup (i.e. no defence, no centre depth) is the result of poor management. So yes, in a way the organization has 'ruined' the players.

Even with their high point totals, the young core is atrocious at their defensive game. This is a result of poor development/coaching, which in turn is a management issue.

The Oilers have a knack for taking what is considered an asset and depreciating it as it goes through the system. A perfect example is Yakupov. He was the first overall pick and could have fetched a large return if the Oilers had traded him. Now, his value has plummeted.

It will be the same for whoever the Oilers draft this year.

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#61 RexHolez
April 25 2014, 02:27PM
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I fail to see how an 18 year old power play specialist Dman would help the oilers. Especially when you consider the high percentage of top rated dman who fail to live up to expectation. Bennet to me is the obvious choice, but then again I'd be trying to win sooner than 5 years from now.

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#62 Britts94
April 25 2014, 02:29PM
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That poll question is pretty much:

Who would you rather have? A) Marchand B) Nash C) Penner

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#63 Britts94
April 25 2014, 02:32PM
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What about Marincin for Kevin Miller from the B's? Is that just right, too much to give up, or not enough back?

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#64 Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe!
April 25 2014, 02:47PM
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Jeffff wrote:

This is all you need to know about the Oilers.

Who is the second least efficient team in all North American sports?

Answer : The Edmonton Oilers

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2014/04/24/the-second-least-efficient-team-in-all-north-american-team-sports-here-come-the-oilers/

Does not matter who they draft , Oilers are one of the worst run teams in the world of professional sports.

THEY RUIN PLAYERS.

Hmmm. Interesting article. It kind of makes me laugh when so many people post about how Katz doesn't want to win, and that the solution is to boycott games/hit him in the wallet. We have a loser team, and an owner still willing to dump money into the team for player salaries.

On the other hand, still, more evidence against KLowe.

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#65 Sketchy
April 25 2014, 03:02PM
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Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe! wrote:

Hmmm. Interesting article. It kind of makes me laugh when so many people post about how Katz doesn't want to win, and that the solution is to boycott games/hit him in the wallet. We have a loser team, and an owner still willing to dump money into the team for player salaries.

On the other hand, still, more evidence against KLowe.

It's a joke that KLowe is still with this team.

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#66 Oilergasm
April 25 2014, 03:12PM
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If Ekblad falls to the Oil, maybe convert Justin Schultz to a winger. Bigger body in the top 6 with a scoring touch.

Sign an experienced D to help out. There seem to be many 3-4-5 types available via free agency. (Meszaros, Klesla, Niskanen, Orpik, Quincey and Greene)

That opens up the potential to move out some bodies in the top 6 for some size (Michalek, Moulson, Callahan, Kulemin)and a better 2C.

Everyone questions which of our top pick do we trade? Why not offer up Perron, his stock will never be higher and he is a prime candidate to be the whipping boy.

Move out Perron and Gagner for some high end 3rd liners or a big 2C. Would you rather have an undersized inefficient 2nd line that can't win any battles, play defense or win faceoffs and no 3rd line, or a good or great 3rd line and size on the 2nd line?

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#67 Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe!
April 25 2014, 03:29PM
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Sketchy wrote:

It's a joke that KLowe is still with this team.

Yeah, it sure looks that way from the outside, doesn't it?

As I see it, we'll never know quite how the decision-making authority was split between 6rings and Dithers. Aside from the 'tank it' conspiracy theorists, we can all likely agree that Tambo's was one (albeit disastrous) mistake. If Katz sees it as mostly Tambo's fault (thus les KLowe's) then it might explain why KLowe could get 1 more chance with a new GM.

The time to replace Lowe was last summer, befor hiring a new GM. Since Lowe is back, with MacT, it tells me Katz most likely decided to give ol' 6 rings his one (I pray last) more chance with a new GM. Once that decision is made, we'll probably have to wait at least one more year, if not two, to see if Lowe got it right with MacT or not. I hope so - that we improve steadily over the next couple years. If not, then I can't imagine Lowe surviving another cycle of futility.

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#68 Air on Egg blood
April 25 2014, 03:44PM
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I think you are asking the wrong question JW. Florida will take Ekblad for sure, as he is not only the BPA, but they took Barkov instead of Seth Jones last year and likely won't make the same move this year.

The question should be: what would it take from the Oilers to pry Gudbranson out of Florida? If Dale Tallon asks for Eberle + Klefbom, should they pull the trigger? Hummm. It seems to me that if Florida indeed takes Ekblad, they are the perfect partner to make a "bold move".

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#69 #ThereGoesTheOilers
April 25 2014, 04:20PM
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Jeffff wrote:

This is all you need to know about the Oilers.

Who is the second least efficient team in all North American sports?

Answer : The Edmonton Oilers

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2014/04/24/the-second-least-efficient-team-in-all-north-american-team-sports-here-come-the-oilers/

Does not matter who they draft , Oilers are one of the worst run teams in the world of professional sports.

THEY RUIN PLAYERS.

Funny point of view to have when so many of our former players (traded away for so little to show) are making such significant contributions in the playoffs as we speak.

Team mismanagement does not = ineffective players.

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#70 Copper
April 25 2014, 06:05PM
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Too many Oiler fans under value Oilers and over value players from other teams Ganger is a proven top 6 NHL centre. All stats but FO% proves it. Petry was our best Dman last year bar none. Legit 2nd pairing but had to play out of order as no one else could handle the mins. Every team but 2 (CHI & STL) is looking to improve D including top pair. These top pairing Dmen are drafted & developed for the most part. Some (Suter) sign as UFA's. rare is one traded. And when they are, it's not for much. Eg. Pronger was twic traded in his prime for b prospects & draft picks. A third time for failed 1st rounder & more picks.

Can't ruin future for present. How has that worked for Leafs These past 47 years?

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#71 Jimmer
April 25 2014, 07:52PM
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Ekblad, Eberle, Petry to Nashville for Weber.

A lot to pay but guess what....you are getting a stud in his prime.

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#72 BabyNuge'sBabt
April 25 2014, 08:55PM
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If Bennet and Draisaitl are both gone then yes, the oil should take Ekblad based on organizational need. We need a solid #1/2 center more than another defensive prospect. Also, there have been many articles in the recent past suggesting that really good D men aren't always taken high in the draft. There is no guarantee that Ekblad is going to be as good as advertised, it is possible his draft stock is inflated due to him being a man playing against boys.

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#73 seanjohn667
April 25 2014, 09:34PM
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what happens? Mact runs to the podium the second Buffalo gets off the stage and picks Ecklad, then giggles all the way home!!

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#74 crabman
April 25 2014, 11:30PM
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Woogie63 wrote:

We are in a nice place, the first three picks appear to be equal in talent. The good news is we need help at centre and defence.

I worry about Ekbald a bit, he is basically a man (6-3, 210 lbs) playing against young 16-17-18 boys. This size advantage is huge in the CHL (think Phaneuf) and not as much in the NHL (think Phaneuf).

After RNH (who is still a prospect) who is our best prospect at center???

Ekblad entered the OHL as a 15 year old through the exceptional player rule. This doesn't happen often, so that says a lot about the player right there. He plays much more mature than the average 17 year old and supposedly has a very high hockey IQ so I think he will make the adjustment to the NHL fairly well. As for the comparison to Phaneuf, Phaneuf is built like the perfect D man, he is big and strong, he can skate and has a mean streak and isn't afraid to drop the gloves. Unfortunately for him and the Maple Leafs he is an idiot and makes bad decisions.

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#75 Vincheese
April 26 2014, 12:52PM
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IF Ekblad falls to the Oilers?

You pick him..............end of article.

BPA, addressing huge need, and the one person that CALGARY MUST NOT GET................

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#76 Rdubb
April 27 2014, 08:05AM
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WOW, where did the following come from; "Who would go? Probably the low man on the draft pedigree totem pole. Marincin consistently lags behind Klefbom in the public comments made by the general manager, and presumably he falls well below not only the Swedish rookie but also back of Nurse and Ekblad, our hypothetical addition." I have never heard MacT say anything but good things about MM, not too mention any comparisons between the two... Should you recall these, can you please send me either the audio link or the printed link

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#77 Will
April 28 2014, 04:40PM
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I just don't see a downside to Drafting Ekblad. At the moment the Oilers are looking at Marincin, Klefbomb, and Nurse to learn the game in short order and help out the back end. I would say Ekblad is an upgrade on at least one of those guys, and they all have great value right now.

So worst case scenario is we have a better defensive prospect pool, and are able to use one prospect as a big trade chip to either bring in a veteran D to help the development curve of the young guys until they can take over, or get help elsewhere in the line up.

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#78 HockeyYodaDotcom
May 03 2014, 09:30AM
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If Ekblad falls to number 3. You get down on your knees, grasp your hands and say thank you Lord! I've gathered two things from your piece. 1. You under value Ekblad in a big way. 2. You somehow over value your existing D.

If you guys are going to come back with 5 of your existing D next year as you say, you should vomit now. Yes you have a couple of D prospects with potential in Klefbomb and Nurse. But the Oil are far from a legit D core. It seems some of you think this Marincin guy is a stud D man. I can't count how many times I've caught him watching no one in particular or making a bad pass. He needs more time in the minors. Ekblad easily walks right into a top four role on most teams in the league. On the Oilers, he'd probably be on your top two as is stands now. Ekblad doesn't dominate junior just because he's big as you suggest. His on ice intensity, and desire to be the best is comparible to elite players only.

You dont need to debate if you take him at 3. What you should be doing is finding out how to make sure you draft him.

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