The Edmonton Oilers are loaded to the gills with defensive prospects in the AHL, junior, college and Europe. When it comes to sheer numbers, the Oilers don’t really need to stock up a lot on draft day this year.
The following dozen defensemen were all young enough to make Copper and Blue’s Top-25 Under 25 this winter, and none of them are regulars in Edmonton:
|8||Oscar Klefbom||19th, 2011||SEL||Farjestads||33||2||0||2||-1|
|11||Martin Marincin||46th, 2010||WHL||P.G./Regina||58||11||29||40||-7|
|13||Colten Teubert||13th, 2008||AHL||Oklahoma City||43||2||8||10||6|
|14||David Musil||31st, 2011||WHL||Vancouver||59||6||21||27||9|
|17||Dillon Simpson||92nd, 2011||NCAA||U. of North Dakota||42||2||16||18||10|
|21||Brandon Davidson||162nd, 2010||WHL||Regina||69||13||36||49||26|
|22||Alex Plante||15th, 2007||AHL||Oklahoma City||36||1||12||13||18|
|23||Kyle Bigos||99th, 2009||NCAA||Merrimack College||34||4||13||17||0|
|24||Jeremie Blain||91st, 2010||QMJHL||A-B/Victoriaville||58||9||41||50||28|
|25||Martin Gernat||122nd, 2011||WHL||Edmonton||60||9||46||55||41|
|27||Taylor Chorney||36th, 2005||AHL||Oklahoma City||50||6||18||24||15|
There is a lot of NHL potential represented in the group above.
Oscar Klefbom is the lone man on this list playing in Europe, where his minutes and his offense have been somewhat limited. He played an impressive two-way game at the World Juniors for the gold medalist Swedish team, and while his offensive upside is questionable he’s a very good prospect.
Four of the Oilers’ defensive prospects spent 2011-12 in the WHL, and it’s an impressive group. 6’4” Martin Marincin wasn’t quite able to live up to the offensive expectations of one year ago, but he’s still a huge defender with offensive upside. Martin Gernat is the second big Slovakian blueliner to surprise with his offense in two years, scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace for the Oil Kings. David Musil is a defense-first guy in the mold of his father, former Oilers rearguard Frank Musil, and he was easily the Czech’s best defenseman at the World Juniors this year. Brandon Davidson is an under-the-radar prospect with legitimate puck-moving ability.
Three guys have spent most of this season in the AHL: Colten Teubert, Alex Plante and Taylor Chorney. All three also spent some time this season in the NHL. Teubert is the player with the most long-term potential, but probably should spend another year in the AHL; he’s big and tough and mean but still raw defensively. Plante and Chorney have been perpetual prospects in Edmonton, but there are encouraging signs for both. Plante leads a very good AHL team’s blue-line in plus/minus, and Chorney isn’t far behind. Chorney’s also contributing more offense than the has at any point in his professional career.
The Oilers haven’t ignored college hockey, either. Dillon Simpson had an exciting run to start the year (13 points, +10 in his first 26 games) but cooled considerably down the stretch; still, he’s a long-term pick and could factor in down the line. Kyle Bigos is a mountain of a man (6’5”, 230lbs) with considerable physical tools, including a mean streak – he finished with 125 PIM for Merrimack, more than double his next-closest teammate – and could have turned pro this spring, but seems likely to spend another year in college.
The offensively gifted Jeremie Blain and the injured Taylor Fedun round out the list. Fedun impressed in training camp last fall and is still a prospect to watch; if he can come back from injury he could be a factor. Blain’s in a similar boat to Brandon Davidson – the offensive upside is clear and now he needs to make the jump to the professional ranks. Like Davidson, Blain needs to be signed in the near future or the Oilers will lose his rights.
It’s a great group of prospects, with a wide range of strengths – there’s everything from physical ruffians to offensive gems, and a few players who combine both skillsets. To the Oilers’ credit, many of these players were either taken in the later rounds of the draft or passed over entirely.
The Oilers may want to add a top-end guy this summer with their lottery pick, or trade an NHL asset for a young defender who projects as a top-pairing defender. Right now, that’s the only thing the system is missing.