June 20 2014 12:04PM
The tipping point: the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. Ladies, we're there.
In the first season of Oil Change, an episode that discusses the 2010 entry draft involves a heated conversation between Stu MacGregor and his scouts. They are discussing selection No. 31, and the scouts around the room are pushing for Tyler Pitlick, while MacGregor is making the argument that this team needs defensive prospects.
As it turned out, the club accomplished both things during that second round, drafting Pitlick No. 31 and acquiring a pick that they used on Martin Marincin. On that day, their 'bubbling under' list of defensive prospects looked like this:
- Jeff Petry
- Theo Peckham
- Alex Plante
- Johan Motin
- Taylor Chorney
- Troy Hesketh
- Kyle Bigos
In 2010, the club added Marincin, Jeremie Blain and Brandon Davidson. The following seasons? Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat, Erik Gustafsson, Joey Laleggia, Darnell Nurse and Ben Betker. MacGregor recognized the need (that's a horrible prospect list) and the club went about the business of improving defensive depth.
These are not NHL-ready kids, I'd argue Edmonton would be wise to plan on only Marincin to start the coming season with the big team (if Klefbom and Nurse can change their minds, fine). However, let's see where these young men are:
- Marincin—over half a season in the NHL, he may not go back to AHL.
- Klefbom—made NHL debut, he's very close, perhaps half a season in OKC.
- Nurse—in no man's land because of the CHL rule, he's got a chance.
- Davidson—Inconsistent season, but building his resume.
- Musil—Solid AHL debut, improved prospect outlook after OKC season.
- Gernat—plenty of work to do, but a Marincin comparable in skill terms.
- Simpson—graduated college, has a nice resume.
- Laleggia—one more offensive season in college.
- Betker—impressive junior season has him tracking well.
That's a much better list than the day MacGregor and his scouts argued Pitlick v. Marincin.
THE HOCKEY NEWS
In an article published today in the Hockey News, Matt Larkin suggests the Oilers should trade down from No. 3 overall.
- Edmonton sends Toronto the No. 3 pick, which the Leafs covet, for the No. 8 pick and Jake Gardiner. The Oilers pick Fleury. Suddenly, a horrible defensive team can build around Nurse, Fleury, Justin Schultz (reunited with best buddy Gardiner), Oscar Klefbom, and Martin Marincin, with veteran support from Andrew Ference, Jeff Petry and maybe Nikita Nikitin.
I think Larkin's thought process is sound for the trade (don't know if Toronto does it, mind), save for the selection of Haydn Fleury with the No. 8 overall pick.
The needs have changed, and NOW the Oilers need help at center. Craig MacTavish addressed up the middle last season in terms of the draft by plucking Darnell Nurse, Greg Chase Bogdan Yakimov and others, but there's much work to do. The need at center today is far greater than the need at defense.
- Greg Chase—brilliant junior season.
- Bogdan Yakimov—impressive Russian results on 10 minutes a night.
- Mark Arcobello—knocking very hard on that NHL door.
- Jujhar Khaira—Turned heads in an AHL cup of coffee.
- Travis Ewanyk—rugged center coming off rookie pro season.
The Oilers need to shore up the center position this summer.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Trading down doesn't make sense when there's a perfect fit available. Edmonton will get to choose from two of Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl at No. 3 overall. Trading down and taking Haydn Fleury—while also adding Jake Gardiner—adds tremendously to the blue.
However, the new 'our blueline sucks!" is "good lord we have no centermen" this year. Stu MacGregor knows it, his scouts know it and Craig MacTavish knows it.
It's going to be Ekblad (you can't pass on him if available) or a center.
(Klefbom/Musil, Davidson and Ewanyk photos via Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).