Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Learning to play defense in the NHL must be a difficult process. It’s certainly difficult to watch. In the 2000’s, the Edmonton Oilers cut off their collective noses to spite their face: no AHL team (or a shared one) in order to save a dollar or two meant those valuable years between 20-23 were a dead zone for defensemen. With the new attention to detail throughout the organization, the OKC Barons are an important stop for future NHL defensemen. Well. How’s it going so far?


In the olden days–before free agency–NHL teams owned the rights of player’s forever, or until they sold them to Oakland. However, the modern NHL team must be mindful of the UFA clock that is constantly ticking. Draft a defenseman at 18, sign him at 20 and then develop them in the AHL/ECHL until they’re ready to face the NHL music. There are alternate routes: among current Oilers blue, both Tom Gilbert and Jeff Petry went the college route.

When we look forward to 2011-12 and beyond in regard to the Oilers defense, it’s tempting to shoot the moon and talk about Adam Larsson. Elite level defensive talent, already playing in a strong league (SEL) and clearly available. History tells us that the pipeline from OKC will be extremely important for the Hall Oilers over the next several seasons.

A very good yard stick for development is how players are used in the post-season. Development is a key part of an AHL season, but come playoff time the desire to win hockey games means the best group available is likely to make the starting lineup. Here’s how things have gone 2 games into the OKC Barons playoff series against Hamilton:

  1. Bryan Helmer (2gp, 1-0-1 +1): Legendary AHL star is playing heavy minutes and in all circumstances. At age 38 he’s in the final stages of an exceptional minor league career but is clearly a leader on this team. His goal came at even strength, he’s been on the ice for 2EV goals for and 1 against. He’s also been on the ice for 2 powerplay goals against, so a good guess is that he’s well over 20 minutes per night so far in the playoffs. 3 shots on goal.
  2. Jeff Petry (2gp, 0-0-0 E): It looks like he’s getting a lot of playing time in all situations. Paired mostly with Helmer, I’d say they are the #1 EV pairing and likely the 1 or 2 PK group. Petry has been on for 2 EV goals (1 for and 1 against) and 2 powerplay goals against so far this playoff. Petry has 5 shots on goal to lead the D.
  3. Richard Petiot (2gp, 0-0-0 E): He’s all over the scoresheet: 4pim’s, 2 shots on goal and 2 ev goals (one for and one against) along with a PP goal against. A reasonable guess would be that he’s close to leading the team in EV TOI and PK TOI but trailing overall because of Helmer’s use in all situations. 1 shot on goal.
  4. Jake Taylor (2gp, 0-0-0 E): Paired with Petiot on the 2nd EV pairing (and 1 or 2 PK pairing), the veteran AHLer has been on the ice for 2 EV goals (1 for and 1 against and 2PP goals against. The Petiot-Taylor pairing is likely well over 20 minutes based on PK time alone (OKC has had a lot of PK time this series). 3 shots on goal.
  5. Kevin Montgomery (2gp, 0-0-0 E): I think he’s probably a third pairing defender on this club based on the lack of activity when he’s on the ice (1 ev goal for and 1 ev goal against) but that’s a guess. Either way, he’s ahead of a couple of the prospects based on the fact that he’s been in both games of the series. 2 shots on goal.
  6. Alex Plante (1gp, 0-0-0 -1): We know from reports out of OKC that Plante’s one game came paired with Jeff Petry, so I imagine he was over 20 minutes for that game. He was on the ice at 9:43 of the first period game 1 when Hamilton scored and was also on the ice for a PP goal against. I have him slotted here because the coaching staff saw fit to HS him in game 2; he might be higher on the list during the regular year but coach Nelson is looking for consistency so that’s a tell. 2 shots on goal.
  7. Colten Teubert (1gp, 0-0-0 E): HS to start the series which suggests on that night he was the 7th best option. Suspect he’s going to spend all of next season in OKC based on how he’s faded since a nice start after the deadline. 2 shots on goal.


Only one of the Oiler prospects is being trusted so far in the post-season, and when push came to shove Plante and Teubert were odd men out. It’s no big deal for Teubert in my opinion, he’s the least experienced of the group in terms of pro experience.

But for Plante? Having Montgomery slotted ahead of him should be a concern. I don’t know exactly which chair in the photo above that Plante represents, but it’s not a good chair. Not a good chair at all.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Pretty ugly list of defensive prospects when the only guys (outside of one) playing regularly in the AHL are journeymen.

    Lets hope Marcin is far better then Plant and Tuebert.

  • It’s gonna take time for those guys. Even Petry has taken a relatively long time to develop considering he went the NCAA route. Defensive defensemen, IMO, take forever to become reliable.

    I’m interested in seeing how the Oil handle this Barons blue line next year with the possibility of Marincin coming up and the obvious need to play him, Teubert, and Plante for development reasons. Petry is all but a lock to play with the big club full time, Helmer is looking at retirement, and Petiot is a FA (I think, correct me if I’m wrong). There should be some big holes to fill.

    • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

      So Arch, are you sayin that we should draft the D-Man? It’s too bad we dont have another top-5 pick, so we could take RNH AND Larsson

      • I will never suggest the Oilers should take a defenseman with a lotto pick unless the kid is unquestionably better than the next available forward.

        Larsson is not heads and tails better than RNH, so my instincts tell me to go with the F. Rebuilding the D through the draft takes longer because it’s more likely for Dmen to play all their years of Juniour eligibility and then put time in through the AHL. I would rather suggest that the Oil take RNH first then spend their next two picks taking defensemen, or combine the two picks and move up if possible.

  • Just goes to show that when you go off the board in the draft (Plante and Teubert for LA) it rarely works out. At least the oil managed to turn Nash into Marincin from the draft yr.

    The future still looks good though. Look how long oiler fans waited for Teddy Peckman. Teubert is in the same mold and should be expected to be a 4/5 guy I hope. To me, if Plante is a Cory Cross type where he’s your 7th D-man(if he gets decent) thats ok. Marincin really needs to be in the bottom 4 at minimum if the oil don’t take Larsson.

    Kinda tough to see the seguin-esque playoff shutout vs medicine hat for RNH. He had 2 pts I think but that team needed more from him. Anyone watch the series?? Was it a 5 on 1 whenever he was on the ice or was he just not playing well?

    • I watched the series and RNH got off to a bit of a slow start in the series but really picked it up the last 3 games. Part of the reason he was held pointless was because our 5th rounder from last draft(Bunz) wasn’t letting anything get past him.

      • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

        I watched the last three games online. You’re right, Bunz was playing lights out, even last night.

        One thing I noticed with the Nuge is he can carry the puck through neutral ice as well as anyone – it really shows his vision, hands, and speed. The problem was that his D couldn’t really get him the puck breaking out. The Tigers’ game plan against the Rebels had a lot to do with that.

        The Nuge is clearly not as effective on the boards and in the corners, that’s why most of his production comes on the PP and off the rush – remember the sweet assist he had in the Top Prospects game on a two on one? So to me, his game really relies on puck possession, and will benefit from a solid system and good players. He’s not a one man show by any stretch of the imagination.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I was at the game yesterday, 6th row near the Barons bench. I took my two daughters (3 and 8) and so I got to watch about half the game. That said, I thought I would share a few observations.

    – Nelson was learning heavily on his veteran d-men.
    – Interesting to watch Teubert getting PK time with Helmer after missing Game 1. The coach showed a lot of faith in him, from what I could see. Frankly, I felt the coach was showing him more faith than Petry. He had Tuebert out with Helmer and with Petry
    – On Tuebert, the guy has something few of the current Oilers have – a mean streak. You could see it in his face at times. That could be one scary dude. I hope this guy has the skills to make the Oilers in the next year or two.
    – Something was going on with Petry. The vet d-men kept talking to him as he came of the ice, like they were trying to keep his confidence up.
    – I didn’t know who the six d-man was the Baron’s dressed until I read this article, meaning Montgomery either wasn’t used much or didn’t do much (or both). I mean, it was odd, we were on the Barons blueline for 2 periods and I remember thinking after the game, “who the hell was the 6th d-man?”

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      Hey thanks for the info from the game, up close & personal…good stuff!!!

      I was listening to the game on the TEAM 1260 and the announcer said it looked like Kevin Montgomery had gotten real banged up. I don’t know if he came back after that (didn’t listen to the 3rd) but he didn’t come back as long as I was tuned in.

      (note to self: refresh page before responding next time.)

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Montgomery was run face first into the boards in the first period. No penalty. He did not return. Byers kept mentioning it on the broadcast for the rest of the game.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I would’ve liked to have seen Tuebert up here for a couple weeks during that six week death march to seasons end. Colten may be the type of player that plays to the level of his competition. It looks to me as though he doesn’t need to push himself in the AHL. Throw this kid into the deep end of the pool and we may be pleasantly surprised.

  • Skidplate

    Montgomery got hit and apparently injured in the 1st period. With all the penalties going the Oil Baron way, it sounded likethe hit should have been a penalty against the Bulldogs.

    I listened to 1260 for about 5 hours yesterday at work. Excellent radio people excellent.

  • JohnQPublic

    Nice article. The method of determining the development of a player based on playoff usage is simple and revealing.

    Unless there is an injury/sickness issue, it reveals a lot of the prospects development.

    • Death Metal Nightmare

      couldnt they have just said to not draft him? they are talent geniuses after all.

      did anyone actually watch the games or did you just look at the box score and judge from there?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Philip-Micheal Devos, 20 yr old leading the Q in scoring. Wasn’t drafted. 5″11″ 188lbs. Have to think there will be some interest in him this summer. Anyone know much about him, late bloomer?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I think Prendergast was about an average head scout, all in all. Some hits, some misses.
    Hits: Hemsky, Petry, Peckham, Greene, Stoll.
    Misses: just about everything else.

    I think had the Oilers not hired a head scout at all, and just went with the ISS rankings alone, they would have done just as well as with Prendergast there. The guy thought he was smarter than the ISS rankings, and well, he usually wasnt. Truth be told, Plante should have gone #28 after all. Doi!

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      He did seem to do alot better in rounds 2 and three then round 1.

      …. actually, without doing any digging and just looking at the names you posted I’d bet he had a fantastic success rate in rounds 2 and 3 compared to other teams.

    • Lowetide

      Agreed. I thought Prendergast 01-06 did a fine job, and then the season he gets three first round picks the damn draft just wasnt’t that deep.

      But Hemsky was a fine pick in ’01, Stoll and Greene in ’02, Dubnyk, Cogliano and Petry look like players.

      The 2003 scwhing-and-a-miss (I still maintain Pouliot’s injuries damaged his career) and the 2007 porridge draft did him in.

    • O.C.

      Well played.

      If someone has some time… it would be interesting to see who the Top ISS ranked player was that was available for every Oiler pick during the first decade of 2000.

    • stevezie

      I don’t think you need to pay scouts to win in the first round.I think most people on this board could have a decent first round record just from reading McKenzie’s list, I know I’ve been pretty good over the last four years (Turris dominated a 2nd tier league!) I think where scouts make their money if rounds 2-7, and signing undrafted players. Apparantly Pheonix really cut their scouting staff over the last year, I wonder how it’s affecting them.

  • Brokenlathe

    Hi, I am wondering if anyone has heard of any Oiler year-end awards. I haven’t seen anything on their website or in the two local papers. Usually, they hand out their year-end awards before the last home game but I didn’t hear anything. Just curious.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    With all the articles and comments about not taking a lotto pick on a D-man, i wonder if the talk would be the same if we didn’t get #1 last year and ending up with Cam Fowler? I would be happy with him! Sure it is early in grading this draft but, so far Hall, Skinner and Fowler are the leaders. With this article it is clear the Oilers do not have an offensive Dman in the system. So, do we trade down and take Larsson, Hamilton or Murphy? And out of those three who is a legit offensive Dman? Probably Murphy. Draft day should be interesting!

    • a lg dubl dubl

      yup draft day is almost as good as the start of the season, so much speculation hope and wonder(especially the last few yrs) should be another interesting day indeed.

      Im hoping the Oil either take RNH or suprise the SH*T outta people and take Couturier with the #1, and then trade the LA pick packaged with a roster player for a NHL dman.

      *wonders what it might take to get the rights to Shea Weber

  • O.C.

    I so badly wanted the Oilers at last years draft to trade up to around 25 to get Emmerson Etem, but nope..just couldnt believe he slipped all the way to 28th..I am sure the Oilers couldve traded up, but I am just a fan, what do I know..
    All I know is the guy is dominating in the playoffs, at least thats what his stats show..good luck to him in Cali

  • Oilers drafted their defenceman later in rounds with the exception of Plante whom became a bust by the looks of it . They were close to getting Alzner , but he went to fast . Face it ON our defence outlook would vastly improve if we took a blue chipper with our first pick . Many clubs are doing so and having resounding success taking them early ! Ours take a lot of time as they are not that high of prospects to begin with , and it shows make no mistake about it .

    Our closest rivals for next years basement seat is Colorado and i think we will not be beating them next season if they pick off Larsson . Colorado will pick off a player that should be NHL ready for next season , while we will be picking someone who will not by the sounds of it . The gap between Oilers, Colorado and other clubs will just become even wider .

    We are not going to be a contender for anything but the bottom again next season . Not a chance if we are not prepared to use our first pick for one of blue chippers ready to play in NHL next season .

    This draft should be dedicated to picking 2-3 blue chip defensive propects . I find that avenue should insure we have a decent basis for a climbing season the year after , with Souray and Khabby off the books by that time
    with any luck . Larsson , moving down for another blue chip defensive prospect and being fortunate enough to also latch onto Musil with L.A.s pick or with any luck our 31st pick .If we finish last again next season , which appears likely anyways , their is that Dumbka kid that looks good for next season . Sounds to me like we are going to ensure our rebuild takes the most time Tams can muster and get away with to delay our recovery period by at least another year by taking RNHopkins . Thats not to diminish the value of Hopkins making the NHL down the line .

    • I was wondering the same thing. My guess is that he would come over because he would likely get the rookie max and he could start the clock on his FA status. It would make the most sense that way, but as you say, those ikea types are a different breed.

  • This is totally out of context but I am wondering about good old Penner…I read that article on the weekend about how he is crashing and burning in LA. I wonder where all those whiners who had moaned about us losing him are now…I think that trade is looking like a huge win on our part.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Fair enough but I guess it’s a bit ominous for poor Pens when his new coach rips on him for the same thing his old coachs ripped him …lack of intensity

        • His old coach was also fired and then later admitted that he didnt use Penner to his full potential.

          It shouldnt be surprising that Penner’s new coach doesnt know how to get the most from him considering it took this organization almost 2 years to figure it out. By the time LA figures out the best way to use him he could be a UFA.

    • Teubert hasn’t even made our top six AHL roster yet . What we might get for drafts out of Penner trade might also turn out bad . Little premature to say we got anything of value out of Penner trade ! Penner looked not to bad last night for L.A.. We lost the trade big time unless one of those futures doesn’t turn out to be as good as Penner was for us over last two seasons . The odds of that happening i doubt are very good to begin with . Only thing we gained is cap space so far for Penner .

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Tuebert is a raw commodity…its not even close to say he is good or bad and cap space is good depending on where it goes…The first rounder could be awesome and sure its a crapshoot but at least there is a chance at something better.

  • Hope, Hopeless or False Hope….. Not sure which of these is more true when ST discusses the youth the team has not only in the NHL but in the farm. With his ability to assess and the fact that this group of hope finished contending for the toilet bowl for the second straight year and the fact that OKC getting out scored 7-2 in two playoff games could be swept by the Habs farm team. Personally,I see more FALSE Hope and Hopeless than I see hope. ST states that the big club will make the playoffs next year. He has to say that doesn’t he ? or , does he really beleive that. One would think the answer should be obvious. If he truely believes that, it should be an interesting Draft and summer with regards to player movement.
    A number of moves would need to be made for the Oil to make the playoffs next year. Perhaps KL estimate of 4-6 years might be more like it. If this is the case there had better be some pink slips offered to those in the Penthouse in Oiler ville.
    I hope ST is watching the current Playoff games and sees what team make up wins in the playoffs. I hope he is able to draw some sort of conclusions as to what it takes and what we have and go out at start targetting some players rather than sitting back and waiting for people to call. Wake up ST we have nothing other teams want ! Your phone is not going to be ringing…..
    I vote ST and KL off the island !

  • We need bonafied NHL caliber players for our team on the ice , more than a long continuing bunch of chances by way of futures . Mind you , our futures are not guaranteed to pan out so far either . One thing we found out is a lack of NHL talent is not a very good way to fill in voids left by letting go NHL talent ! Our AHL talent is not as good as most Oiler fans think to be honest .