The Blue, Next Generation

For better or worse, we’re coming to the end of the development period for the blue group procured in the middle of last decade. We can pretty much call the winners and losers in that competition, but a better question might be "who’s next?"

The mid-00’s group

During the final phase of Kevin Prendergast’s time as scouting director, the Oilers devoted several of their top picks to defensemen. Two of their top 3 picks in 2005, both of their top picks in 2006 and one of their three first rounders in 2007 were devoted to the blue. The results are not complete but we know the range:

  • Taylor Chorney, 2nd round in 2005: Has played in the NHL for 56 games but has not performed at a level that suggests he’s going to dress in 200 or more (generally considered the lowest requirement for "covering the draft bet" for top picks). The jury is still out, and he has the added advantage (such as it is) of needing to clear waivers.
  • Danny Syvret, 3rd round in 2005: Syvret was sent down the line some time ago and has found his level in the NHL system: a solid AHL defender who is among the top candidates for recall. He has played in 59 NHL games and would have to be considered a player who covered his bet.
  • Jeff Petry, 2nd round in 2006: The star of this group, he has a nice range of skills and could be a "complete" defenseman. Petry’s ability to perform at evens, PK and PP are huge items moving forward but he has the look of an outstanding draft selection. Has played 35 NHL games.
  • Theo Peckham, 3rd round in 2006. Taken outside the area where we should expect a large return, Peckham has played in 102 NHL games and has already covered the bet. He is the most likely player mentioned here to surpass 200 games and like Petry, he has the look of an outstanding selection.
  • Alex Plante, 1st round in 2007. The highest pick of the group looks like he’ll be the poorest selection. Has played in 7 NHL games so far but the acquisition of Colten Teubert may cut off his NHL opportunity with the Oilers. Plante was taken in the first round, so there will be other chances but the sun looks like it is setting on his Oiler career at this time. If he’s going to recover, 11-12 in OKC would be the time and place.

Draft Winners or on track: Petry, Peckham, Syvret

Outside looking in so far: Plante, Chorney


During the first phase of Stu MacGregor’s time as scouting director, the Oilers devoted just a few of their top picks to defenders. None in 2008 (MBS’s first year) were selected in the top 3 rounds, they picked one defender each in 2009 and 2010 in the top 3 rounds and then took two in the first 2 rounds this past season.

  • Troy Hesketh, 3rd round in 2009: It’s rare that we can make a certain call this quickly after a draft, but in the case of Hesketh there was an extreme failure to launch. Whatever they saw, whatever their scouts had a passion for, fizzled or wasn’t there in the first place.
  • Martin Marincin, 2nd round in 2010: A strong pick the day it was made, Marincin’s arrows are pointed in the right direction despite a subpar second half of his rookie WHL season. He’ll need some time, but this selection appears to be a solid candidate for the Petry comparable during the final phase of KP’s drafting era.
  • Oscar Klefbom, 1st round in 2011: We would do well to remember that not all first round picks turn out, but the scouting reports on Klefbom are extremely positive. He is regarded as having a complete player’s skills by many, and even if the offense falls off (this can and does happen to defenders for all kinds of reasons, the most likely being lack of playing time on the PP) this player is a solid candidate for future NHL employment.
  • David Musil, 2nd round in 2011: Despite being selected in the second round, I think Musil is the safest pick in this group of four. He has NHL pedigree, draft pedigree and has been successful in the role he plays (defensive defenseman); it also happens to be the role he’ll fill if he arrives in the NHL. Should Musil–as some have suggested–show offensive ability then it’s all bonus.

Draft Winners or on track: Marincin, Klefbom and Musil

Outside looking in so far: Hesketh

They’re an interesting group. Marincin can turn pro or return to junior, but Musil can’t play in the AHL until 2013. Klefbom is already playing in the pro SEL and may be the more advanced than the older Marincin. And I think there might be an argument that Musil could surpise and arrive sooner than either of them as an NHL player. Perhaps it is just that his role is more defined, but I think we should at least consider the possibility that David Musil will be the best of the group.

Offense doesn’t always follow players (especially defensemen) to the NHL, and Musil’s game is the least reliant on it.

  • You had me at..

    Do you think the Oilers will add another scout/s that have experience playing defense in the NHL?

    Drafting the right defenseman this year is crucial. Or the Oilers could just draft 1st again and take Ryan Murray..

    The Klefbom pick will bother me until I see more of him. Missing out on Mark McNeill and passing on Joe Morrow could bite Tambellini & Co. in the bum.

  • justDOit

    Why are you so down on Plante? For a guy who was drafted as a bit of a project, and then lost a year of development to injury, i think he has done a solid job of improving. Young D-man take time, and there should be no rush as he still has another year of development in the minors, and he is only 22. I think the concerns of Teubert eating his lunch are reasonable but slightly exaggerated as Teubert, if developed properly, should be spending another 2 years in the AHL. By then a decision on Plante, now 24, will be much easier to make. He may not be a star, but he looks to me to be a solid bet for a useful career.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        He never faired too poorly by my eye, and with his reach and continued development he may overcome it. It would be more of an issue if he tended to run around alot but he seems to have calm feet. Not only that the NHL has more than a few big defenseman who aren’t exactly fleet of foot, see: Gill, Hal. On top of that, remember Jason Smith? His skating got him traded out of Toronto, but in that regard he seemed to improved year after year in Edmonton. Young d-man take time, and they don;t develop in a straight line… It would be a diffrent issue if the expectation is he would play heavy minutes at evens, against top competiton, but the fact is thats not the role he is likley to have going forward. I’m certainly not insinuating HE WILL be an NHLer, i just think there is still a good chance, and time is on his side.

        • justDOit

          While Jason Smith was never ‘fleet of foot’, I felt that his abysmal passing was the main reason his time in Edmonton came to an end.

          It was great watching him crush guys and enforcing his own end, but when it came to turning up the ice, well…

          • OutDoorRink

            I said his skating got him traded out of Toronto, not Edmonton. Then Toronto coach Pat Quinn didn’t feel he had the footspeed. You illustrated my point however in that his skating markedly improved as he got older, to the point it didn’t seem like a weakness. Not to say the same thing will happen with Plante, just that after his 21 year old season it’s a little early to get the shovels out. Other than footspeed, Plante has solid puck skills, and a strong shutdown physical game. He could be a beauty on the PK in a few years. In regards to Smith, i think he got shipped out because the org. felt the end was near and they could still get great value, which is what happened. Plus Smith deserved to play with a contender for his twilight years. Thanks for the reply

            P.S. That Scarlett Johansson pic should be the headliner for every article, photoshoped or

          • Yea although Pitkanen didnt play much that year, 30 games maybe? Hard to say we won that trade when we gave away the captain(he had heart and soul).. Although we did get rid of Lupul lol

      • justDOit

        That’s what I saw at first too – I thought his name should be changed to Planted, because he moves so slowly, he might start to grow roots!

        But that can be improved – and the Oilers seem to have a pretty good skating coach and program, so we can only hope.

    • Lowetide

      Plante’s problems are the opposite of Chorney’s. Whereas Taylor Chorney is a very mobile defender who can’t win battles, Plante is a big, tough defender who can win battles if he can get to them on time.

      Mobility is his issue. Oilers have procured big men who are faster and the AHL is full (FULL) of defensemen who would be in the NHL if they could just skate a little better.