Shocking Blue

Oscar Klefbom had a strong World Junior tournament and played another season in the pro Swedish Elite League. Klefbom even scored a couple of goals right at season’s end to eclipse last year’s boxcars. Now, the young man–regarded as the top blueline prospect in the Oilers system–will have to hurdle many, many older kids hoping for the same thing: a pro contract this summer.

  

The number of blueline prospects who are going to push for pro roster spots this fall is ridiculous. The Edmonton Oilers are going to have to make some decisions, maybe as early as this spring. They can trade some of the surplus, they can sign the graduating class and send the rest back to junior, college or Euro pro, or they can flush a bunch of pro hockey players currently on their 50 man list (and playing in the AHL) in favor of the new hires.

NHL DEFENSEMEN

  1. Ryan Whitney (signed through 2013 summer, then UFA)
  2. Nick Schultz (signed through 2014 summer, then UFA)
  3. Ladislav Smid (signed through 2013 summer, then UFA)
  4. Andy Sutton (signed through 2013 summer, then UFA)
  5. Cam Barker (RFA this summer)
  6. Jeff Petry (RFA this summer)
  7. Theo Peckham (RFA this summer)
  8. Corey Potter (signed through 2014 summer, then UFA)

There’s obviously going to be some movement this off-season (the Oilers already made a move at the deadline) so at least a couple of these names should be flushed before September. A guess might be Barker and Peckham out, but we also know that the Oilers plan on bringing in at least one defensemen. Added to the roster pressure is the distinct possibility Edmonton will select a defender with their lottery selection. If they add Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart, where does that put all of these kids from junior, college and European leagues?

 

SIGNED MINOR LEAGUE DEFENSEMEN

  1. Colten Teubert (signed through 2014 summer, then RFA)
  2. Taylor Fedun (signed through 2014 summer, then RFA)
  3. Alex Plante (RFA)
  4. Taylor Chorney (RFA)

Oilers have a few interesting young defensemen on AHL contracts–the crazy Russian Kirill Tulupov, for one–and they may factor in at some point, However, for the sake of conversation, let’s assume the 12 names listed here are the incumbents heading into summer.  The Oilers current 50 Man Reserve List has 14 defensemen listed, down one from Johan Motin’s departure early this season. If Edmonton keeps Whitney, Smid, Schultz, Sutton, Petry, Potter and the 4 AHL defenders that’s 10 in total. Throw in the one defenseman Steve Tambellini plans to add to the NHL roster and the roster crunch is a real item.

 

THE BACK END 12-13

Let’s approach this starting with those most likely to turn pro based on age and expiring eligibilty in their current league. There’s one man who already has his entry level deal (Marincin) so it’s a good guess he’s going to get his ticket stamped to pro hockey in the fall.

  1. Brandon Davidson: He’s 21 in August and won’t be junior eligible in 2012-13. Edmonton will either sign him, trade him or walk away. Davidson’s numbers (64, 13-34-47 +22) and the scouting reports I’ve heard suggest that he is a legit prospect.
  2. Kyle Bigos: Big man turns 23 in May and is having a solid year at Merrimack of the NCAA (31, 4-13-17). Bigos does have another season of college eligibility and the club may decide to keep him outside pro hockey for another year.
  3. Martin Marincin: Entry level contract has already been signed, he’ll turn pro this fall. 54, 11-27-38 -4 and closing strong in Regina, Marincin is one of the big blueliners Edmonton is very excited about moving forward.
  4. Jeremie Blain: It sounds insane, but the depth is so impressive at this position there might be a chance that Blain plays another season in the QMJHL (he turns 20 in 2 weeks). 54, 9-39-48 +26 and the scouting reports say nice things about him.
  5. Oscar Klefbom: No pressure to bring him over and put him in the AHL/NHL, but the club probably wants to sign him and take away any possible draft re-entry for 2013. 33, 2-0-2 -1 for his SEL season, he was staring at goose eggs all season before punching through. I have no idea if they’ll sign him, but do believe there’s a chance they leave the top D prospect in Sweden next year while breaking in (at least) a trio of youngsters in the AHL.
  6. Martin Gernat: 55, 8-40-48 +38 is incredible production for a 5th round pick and he’s still over a year from his 20th birthday. He should be back in Edmonton playing with the Oil Kings in the fall, although it does appear he could qualify for AHL action as early as this fall. The money quote is "Players drafted from European and NCAA leagues aren’t held to these terms" and the Oilers selected him out of Kosice of the Czech juniors. Scouting reports are exceptional. **I’d love input into this item, because I’m not 100% certain I’m reading this correctly.
  7. David Musil:  Musil plays a very mature game for his age and anyone observing him during the WJ’s knows how much he’s capable of doing defensively. 56, 5-19-24 +13 with Vancouver of the WHL. Musil’s only chance to turn pro is as an Edmonton Oiler, so he is not a signing priority over the summer.

The Oilers have 5 or 6 defensemen who they could sign and turn pro, and the other two have a chance to get signed and then returned to junior for a final season. They’re graduating by the 6-pak.

 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Oilers are going to sign as many as 6 amateur defensemen from their previous drafts to pro contracts this summer. It’s a good bet that at least one of them spends their rookie season in Stockton and there’s a chance Edmonton either makes a trade involving one of them or walks someone like Brandon Davidson. Or they might ask Kyle Bigos to stay in college for a final season.  The numbers don’t add up. Believe it or not, there’s too much on the way. I expect we’ll see a trade before or at the draft involving one or more of the prospect blue.

  • Bryzarro World

    Your article reinforces the argument that the Oil should not draft a defenceman with their first pick.

    The prospects they have are further along in their development than the defence draft prospects.This was supposed to be the year of the defender but the boxes don’t show any huge talent.

    Our defense will look better when the tank is over and we give most of the minutes to Smid ,Petry and Schultz instead of guys like Peckham and Barker.

  • Bryzarro World

    I would love to see Teddy evolve into that multi-purpose guy at 4th line LW! Have no faith in Eager to do his job & I know Pecks understands his job! Barker has to go, no question. Chorney as well.

    What this team truly needs is grit! Cole was Mr. tough guy last night? Give me a break, we need toughness, changes the whole feeling of a hockey club when you have the security blanket. Team will play different.

    DD’s got to go, I’d keep Khabby for one more year rather than Dubnyk. He’l a cluster f**k waiting to happen, team plays different in front of a goalie like that! Just my thoughts.

    • Marshall Law

      Khabibulin has only won one game since the new year. Dubnyk, while less than spectacular at minding the twine, actually gives the team a chance to win when he’s in there.
      Aside from the first month of the season, Khabibulin has been atrocious.

      • O.C.

        The thing is, Khabby has only lost once since last Wednesday…:-)

        Here’s my thoughts, we’ve been watching Devan for quite awhile now & I just don’t think he’s going to be a championship calibre goalie! Khabby has been & if you watched Oil Change you can see he adds excellent veteran experience to this team. I think he also got banged up a little bit towards the middle of this season & it hampered him a bit. He still has better overall stats compared to DD. We’ve got some good prospects coming up but it’s going to take time to develop them so let’s get other tenders in here to see if we can strike gold, like Thomas in Boston.

  • Draft whoever will be better. Period.

    As for the graduating talent, make room for them on the farm and leave guys like Klefbom in Europe.

    Let the AHL team be filled with rookies. It’s fine for the club to lose a bit under those conditions. There is no connection between AHL success and NHL Success. But if the Barons are grooming a bevy of Oiler defensemen for the future then good on them.

    Winning is nice, but it’s secondary in OKC to development.

  • The only D-man on the Oilers active roster who I wouldn’t move are.

    Petry-Smid-Shultz and on the outside hanging on is Potter!

    This is borderline the worst Defense in the NHL.

    Those kid’s or prospects you speak of are also no where near NHL ready and using this years draft for a D-man is just another 3 to 4 years of waiting.

    Time to get rid of the junk.

  • Curious who Tambilni would be targetting for the addition of veteran D man. I dont think Suter or Webber would have interest in coming to the Oilers. Is it possible they have a target at this years draft for a D man.? I know people are suggesting it takes up to 3 yrs. to bring on a defense man into the NHL.There have been players, like Hedman, Daughty, Karlsson, DelZatto, etc. that came on board in the first or secdon year. IF their intended draft, pick is of this quality, they shouldn’t draft a Defense man.

    • If you pay attention to the wording that Tambo uses when he talks about it he makes sure that he puts wieght on adding “Vet Defenseman”. So to me that would say its not about who they are drafting but I do think it likely that he already has a few trades in the works for the off season that teams didn’t want to complete during the season. He may also still try and find something on the FA market but not likely a top Dman.

      I wish they would have used Tulupov more this year in OKC. His numbers are as good as the other defenseman and I would like to see what he could do in a bigger role. If RNH stirs the drink, Tulupov shakes the whole damn Bar.

  • I would let Barker, Peckham, Chorney, Plante all go. I don’t see any of them being that useful. Teubert I would look at trading and give his spot to Tulupov. The guys numbers are pretty decent and his physical game is off the charts.

    That leaves 6 NHL D and the ability for tambo to add two. Tuebert could be used in part of a trade for one along with Peckham’s rights as I believe he is still a RFA.

    We’ll have to see where Fedun is come training camp but he looked to be NHL ready before being injured, something to keep in mind as he is a older prospect from the College ranks that is going to be more mature than most anyway.

    I say Marincin, Gernat, possibly Klefbom(I’m not sure the development is there in the elite league and his stats don’t really show anything, but we need to see development and progress), Davidson, and Blain should all be in OKC or Stockton next season. None of them are going to progress much in the Junior leagues and in regards to Davidson, you should at least give him a year to find out what you have in him in a more competitive league before sending him away.

    • Yourmomthinksimhot

      Let Peckham go? Last year he was much more solid, this year is a step back in development.

      Last year everyone was trading and dumping Smid. Thank god the management didn’t listen then and hope they are not listening now with everyone beating up on poor Teddy.

      Teddy has that delicious mean streak and is not afraid to drop the gloves if neccesary. Let him work through his problems.

  • D

    LT,

    Do you see a timing problem here? By the time this group of defensemen get NHL ready, we could start losing some of the talent up front? I just can’t help but think that in the NHL today, the champions manage to time the peak of their forwards and defense into a winning team.

    Thanks the for Ann Margret picture. I’ve been told Elvis never got over her.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    With such a ‘back log’ of D in our system, wouldn’t it make sense to draft a forward with the second pick, instead of a D? All of our really good forward prospects are already in the NHL. Hamilton? Pitlick? Umm… maybe?

    Unless a trade can be made that trims a bit of the fat off the D…

  • Seriously....Gord?

    NHL Ready prospects will be gold in 3 years. Invest in quality D prospects, develop for 3-4 years and use them as trade bait. Similar to Nashville but better managed.

    What would Blum fetch today?
    What would Elis fetch?
    What would Sutter/Weber fetch?

    Probably a pretty good crop of FWDs and Pick.

    I see them as currency. Get more and more and cause yourself a headache trying to keep the best ones and shipping out the “POS” D Men.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    With Klefbom in particular, I can see the arguments both ways. If you think his development is better off in the AHL, by all means you make room for him provided he’s allowed and willing to play in the AHL.

  • Oilers89

    It’s hard to know what the Oilers will do – not too many leaks out of the head office. There weren’t many hints that Gilbert was on the market, for example.

    Were I in charge, I’d probably look to send all of Gernat, Musil, and Klefbom back to their current teams, but would try to sign them this summer provided they wouldn’t count against the 50 contract limit (I don’t think they would, based on age, but I haven’t checked their birthdays).

    Carrying 8 D might help alleviate the roster crunch, but I’m not sure it’s THAT big a problem to have one or two of the prospects play big minutes in the ECHL until injuries (inevitably?) hit at the NHL/AHL levels above them.

    Also, the Oilers will potentially have Fedun coming back, so he’d be another D in the system.

  • 24% body fat

    Chorney, peckham, barker, gone, -3

    Bigos one more year in college, -1

    Blain one more year Q -1

    Gernat and Musil on more year Juniors -2.

    Kelfbom has to come over to get ice time.

    NHL DEPTH CHART – Petry, Whitney, UFA, Smid, Schultz, Potter, Sutton.

    AHL DEPTH CHART, Fedun, Tuebert, Marancin, Davidson, Plante, Klembom 1 AHL contract

    Evaluate the rest next year and see what to do instead of jumping the gun. Nice problem to have every year going forward.

    2014 Tuebert replaces sutton, plante gone,

  • Oilers89

    Would you trade Klefbom for a chance at Rheinhart? Or would you pick Rheinhart at 2? I would take Yakupov or Gigerenko. I just keep thinking back to the article that Gregor wrote about how many Dman make it to the NHL who were high draft picks. You can never have enough scoring. I think we have alot of 3-4s in terms of prospects. We need to trade(Suter) for a 1-2 dman. We have enough depth in terms of prospects to make an offer this off season.

  • Seriously....Gord?

    LT: One answer is to offer Chorney an AHL contract. He MIGHT get an offer from another club, but its worth th risk. He does not have an NHL future with the Oilers so why waste an NHL contract spot on him?