These days, the future of the Edmonton Oilers blue is on display at Rexall and in Calgary. How do these kids look, anyway?

Tracking defensemen after their draft day is difficult. You  see them selected (if they’re first rounders) and then read Stu Macgregor’s words and after that it’s hurry up and wait. Long years can go by before we get a strong look at a player, and that includes diehard fans. For instance, how many of us have actually seen Kyle Bigos play a hockey game?

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This year’s world juniors offers us a unique opportunity to view these youngsters against players their own age on a big stage. First impressions are exactly that, we shouldn’t put too much importance on them. Having said that, here’s my initial reaction to each of the four blueliners:

  • OSCAR KLEFBOM 2, 0-0-0 +2: Fine skater, he can move the puck efficiently and makes a nice first pass. Does not have much of a shot–or at least hasn’t displayed it here, using a quick wrist release instead–and is not terribly creative once he carries the puck out of his zone. Still, you can see why they like him: big, strong, size and a bit of a mean streak. Despite relative youth I think he’s more advanced than some of these kids. Klefbom’s best play so far in the tournament has come at even strength.
  • DAVID MUSIL 2, 0-0-0 +1 The most impressive of the group so far, owing to an outstanding display on the PK and enormous TOI totals (I don’t have them but trust me he’s playing a lot). Foot speed is the thing that will keep him out of the NHL (if anything does) but I have to say that he’s an impressive player in his own zone. Very aware defensively, breaks up plays with quick stick and smarts, he is very likely to be the best defensive player in the group. Blessed by good hockey genes, his Dad Frank played at the NHL level for several years.
  • MARTIN MARINCIN 2, 0-1-1 +1 Has nice size and speed, marks his man efficiently and can certainly keep up with opposition forwards. I’d like to see him again, he didn’t really do much wrong but also didn’t break up many plays either (something Musil seemed to do every shift). Unlike Klefbom, he did get some nice offensive looks and I’d estimate the better offensive player between he and Klefbom.
  • MARTIN GERNAT 2, 0-1-1 +1 Either Gernat is a player or he’s a pretty good faker. Seemed more involved in the play than Marincin and pinched a couple of times showing good offensive instincts. He’s the least defensive of the group but easily the most impressive with the puck on his stick (that I’ve seen).

For me, not much has changed after viewing them. Klefbom is the best bet to develop into an NHL defender with a nice range of skills, and Musil is the best player in his own zone. Gernat is the wild card and Marincin appears to be that player with an array of skills but nothing we can identify as a "calling card" or strength.

Based on what we know, Klefbom is the best bet by draft pedigree and "saw him good" despite the lack of offense on the other side of the pond.

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There must be something in the Swedish water that blesses the entire nation genetically. This is May Britt, who was an export in the 1950’s and ended up married to Sammy Davis, Jr AFTER the 1960 presidential election (or at least that’s the story).

Oscar Klefbom is the most impressive player in the group. That doesn’t mean he’ll have the longest NHL career, as injuries and development will fill in the blanks. However, he’s at the front ranks of a pretty impressive group of kids on display at this year’s world juniors. David Musil has also impressed, especially on the many penalty kills weathered by the Czech team.

How soon will they be ready? Not soon enough, and that’s for sure.

  • Greenlingj

    I was pretty impressed with Musil in training camp and could see him playing next year if his foot speed gets better, and it seems to me that oilers management has accepted another lottery year seeing how they could make changes to get better but don’t…… Say the oilers draft top 5 do they take best player available even if it’s a forward or do they take the best defenceman available?

  • Lowetide

    If they draft high enough I believe they’ll take Ryan Murray, if not Griffin Reinhart or Matt Dumba. I’d bet real money ($8!!!) on the Oilers taking a defenseman.

  • The Farmer

    Minor error, but I believe you call him frank at the end of your article. I was at the game last night and was really impressed by Musil. Looks very strong and rugged

  • I normally don’t do this but:

    “Frank Musil has also impressed, especially on the many penalty kills weathered by the Czech team.”

    Some sort of slip there… not Freudian but something…

    Edit: HA! Beat by a farmer. Wait, not just any Farmer. THE Farmer!

  • The Farmer

    Hey now that the wheat board is gone we will be able to put our talents to good use. You know like strengthening the economy. But I guess this is probably not the place…

  • Greenlingj

    This years draft is loaded with many fine D prospects, I have not really looked closely at this years class however.

    That being said, Oilers should take the best available player regardless if that is a Forward or a D man.

    In the draft you can’t pick or choose as it is not a for sure thing RNH SIUTBHOC so did Hall and Eberle,

    If there is a player who has skill and is 6’0 200+ come selection time and is the best overall I say take him regardless of position.

  • Zack

    I was lucky enough to go to the game last night, what an experience. Loved it! Ryan (want to call him Rem) Murray would be an outstanding prospect to have in our system, on some charts Dumba may have surpassed Murray but after reading, watching him on tv (WJ) and now seeing him play live I’d prefer him over Dumba.

    I’ve had the opportunity to see Dumba live multiple times, last season and this one, I’ll be going to the game tonight as a matter of fact. He’s everything you’ve probably read, dynamic defenseman who can QB/run the PP, play the shutdown roll at times and will occasionally step into a guy for the open ice hit. Not that he’s a bad player but I’d take Murray over Dumba. Even at the WJrs Murray plays the game with such poise, and on either side of the coin he has a great show of offensive and defensive awareness. His hockey IQ is something else, and he doesn’t go out of his way to make a hit (or at least from what I’ve seen) and he knows when and how to distribute himself (body/spatial awareness) or the puck.

    Now I wouldn’t compare the pedigree of Murray to Larsson, especially since I’ve never seen Larsson play live but out of the 2012 Draft Class, I see why Murray is placed higher over Dumba, and I believe he will stay as the highest ranked defenseman. It would be something else if the Oilers had the opportunity to draft him however Dmen usually take some time to grow.

  • The Farmer

    I went to the Czech vs. Denmark game, and Musil impressed with his defensive play. Reminded me a lot of Smid (version 11-12). He played top PK minutes, and was a big reason for the Czech shutout. I thought he played really well against Canada yesterday…on the Strome goal he broke up the breakaway and just missed the pass across (essentially he was left to check 3 Canada forwards). I don’t know how many shots he blocked but it had to be 6-7 minimum. I like this guy as a good defensive dman…

    …with Plante, Teubert, Peckham in the system, I don’t know that we need another defensive dman…we need one that can move the puck. Ryan Murray would be awesome here!

  • The Farmer

    At RUS-SVK game. Marincin absolutely shut down Kuznetsev who is Russia’s best player. Great first pass. Very calm in his own zone. Ended up playing every second shift in the third period. I found Klefbom uninspired in both games. Not nearly as good as Brodin whose 17.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Do you mean that Brodin is 17 years old because he is definitely not. He was drafted this past year 10th overall, 9 spots ahead of Klefbom. Also Klefbom looks like he’s deferring to Brodin on the ice because Brodin is the better skater and puck carrier. He hasn’t done anything impressive but he’s only gotten about 10 seconds of PP time and he’s been solid in his own end. However the Swedish coach seems to put him out for DZS, especially near the end of the period so that shows some trust in him.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Great, more 3,4 or #5 dmen for the roster in 3-5 yrs. We should still be wandering in the desert by the time these support players are ready.

    End rant, sorry.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        It’s about time someone in the media called a spade, a spade, don’t you think?

        You can only put a ribbon on dogship for so long before the faithful start wondering what that smell is.

        • OBC'84

          Fair enough. But there’s more than one outcome from our current scenario. Waiting for D kids to mature to NHL level before our magnificent 3 get used to losing or get fed up with losing is a gamble, so my guess is that ST and K-Lowe have some trading planned for next season to get one or two NHL proven backs. This HAS to be their thinking. Its not like they don’t have assets (Hem, Gags et al) but pulling the trigger this year is a waste of bullets. Building a kid show from the front to the back is foolhardy.

          What breed of dogs sail in that ship, btw?

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Always been of the mindset these kids are really the only thing the Oilers have right now and every effort should be made to add to this group. Liquidate the supposed leaders in an effort to get more on ice help. The vets are far too often MIA. They may be all world leaders in the dressing room but the game isn’t played there. How long can mediocre players like Horcoff,Hemsky and Whitney wear letters on their shoulders and not be significant contributors on the ice?

            The Kid show is the only thing the Oilers have going on right now. If we could find a home for that foolhardy label you mentioned it must be the fact that 10,83 and 6 are wearing C’s and A’s on their chest when they can no longer lead this club on the ice.

            The sooner Hall, Hopkins and Eberle start speaking up the better.

  • OBC'84

    I was at the Slovakia vs. Latvia game on Tuesday. I thought Marincin was very impressive at breaking up plays with his stick. He was out in all situations. Gernat only saw the ice at 5X5 and was almost never involved in the play. He seemed a bit lost out there when he did have the puck, usually chipped it out to Marincin or a forward to get it out of the zone.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Might the Oilers swap draft choices this season to obtain someone like Weber ? Would it be the right way to go for an already star defenceman, to compliment our younger emerging and already plentifull roster of defencemen ? In other words, do you think we need another prospect to develop on defence -i don’t . There’s another defenceman who may develop in Fedun , that most forgot about .

    • bazmagoo

      At this stage there are only 3 players that are getting us Weber. They are named Hall, RNH, or Eberle. None of us should be delussional about this anymore (including myself). No combination of broken vets, prospects, or picks will get us Weber. Only one of the big 3 (+ more I would imagine).

  • stevezie

    Based on the games I’ve seen I thought LT nailed the scouting reports, though wasn’t it Musil who took the penalty to put Czech down two men? That sure doesn’t ruin him as a prospect, but it was a shame.

  • I was at yesterday’s game and Musil was terrible on Canada’s 4th (or 5th, to many heroin beers) goal. I’m sure everyone seen it so I won’t go into details. One other thing, he has a very wide skating stance with short strides, looked like he was skating in oatmeal.

  • OBC'84

    “How long can mediocre players like Horcoff,Hemsky and Whitney wear letters on their shoulders and not be significant contributors on the ice?”

    Good post. Can’t find a hole. You need heart on the ice as well as in the room, but heart isn’t mutually exclusive from talent, and Hall shows all the signs of having both, ala Moose. Let’s wait and see if them upstairs get it. They had better; to waste this moment will guarantee they are going up in the rafters of the Hall of Shame along side Pocklington, preferably by their necks.

  • Oilers Coffey

    Frank the Tank, with the kid who’s got the pedigree, big strong, and mean. I think he’s exactly what our Oilers need, opposing teams will dread dumping the Puck into Musils corner. Its about time the Oil find these big tough and mean kids.
    Lowetide, did Frank give you that eye??? Post my name or feel the wrath of 2×4 so called stick…haha!

    Tuebs is definitely a start if he can back to pre concussed grit and swager he had before this summers band camp.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    IMO lowetide, if we are in a position to pick Yakupov, Grigorenko, or Galchenyuk then we still need to go after that talent. However should those three be gone, Ryan M is a toss upbetween him and Galchenyuk. Top 4 pick and I am excited regardless, anything below that is good but not as exciting.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I think we’ve found our Marian Hossa.
    We are going to have to go out into the UFA desert this year and overpay big time for a stud dman named Weber or Suter.
    8 years, 7 per.
    That’s how you get a #1 dman without waiting to draft him.
    That’s what we are missing. Failing that, we’re going to have to use some pieces to trade for one. Our defensive ship is lost at sea, we need a leader to set it straight again.