Filling an Oilers Need

As I have watched the Oilers this season the areas of weakness for this club have been obvious. They are not built to compete with big teams that like to play heavy in the corners and in front of the net.

The defense is full of players suited for second and third pairing roles. Players like Petry and Ference are being asked to play as first pairing guys. This is a tall order for players like this at the best of times and even harder when your group’s commitment to playing defense is average at best.

Quick fixes to address the need for forwards that play a heavy game like Wayne Simmons or a top pairing D man like Shea Weber are not easy to come by. When you look at the Oilers NHL roster and the rest of the guys in the system, there are some blue chip prospects in the pipeline on the back end.

I really wanted the Oilers to draft Nurse last year. I felt then and still feel he can anchor the Oilers blue line moving forward. He is big, mean and a leader. I don’t expect him to put up a lot of points, he doesn’t need to. I believe he is the type of player that will make coming to play in Edmonton uncomfortable for opposing forwards. In time he will be the guy to address players like Backes and Kesler just like Regher used to do for the Flames down in Calgary.

My concern with Nurse is the Oilers ability to be patient with this young man. I see no need to rush him into the NHL. Playing junior next year and then a year in the minors will be healthy for him. He can learn the hardest position at his pace and fill out that big frame.

Oscar Kleifbom is another d-man I have high expectations for, but clearly missing a whole season of hockey last year slowed down his development. He will come around.

There are more projects in the system. The Oilers are hoping that a couple work through their issues. Some need to get quicker, others need to get a lot stronger and some need to learn patience. There is hope on the back end, it just will not be seen for a couple of years.

In my opinion there are very few players in the entire Oilers organization that I have seen play that are a handful to handle in the corners and the front of the net. David Perron is the most obvious top nine forward that is such a player. The Oilers are hoping that Lander, Moroz and Chase develop into full time NHLers that do similar things in this show.

The Oilers need to head to the draft this summer with the goal of addressing this area of weakness. When I look at the Pacific division there is little doubt in my mind that the Kings, Sharks and Ducks are not going to change their style of play. The Oilers need to adjust theirs to compete.

To that end, I have been watching the World Juniors this year very closely. Two players that I think will help the Oilers come closer to challenging the Titans of the pacific division are playing for the Germans and the Swedes.

The Candidates

Let me introduce to you first Mr. Leon Draisaitl. He is playing for Germany in the World juniors and has skated for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL the last two seasons. Depending on where you look, he is roughly 6’2 and 200lbs. He is the big center the Oilers are in desperate need of to compete with the Thornton’s and Getzlaf’s of the Pacific division.

Draisaitl is a big strong player. He skates well and can beat you with his shot or a nice pass to set up a winger. He has 51 points in 33 games in Prince Albert this year (1.54 PPG), tying him for 5th overall in WHL scoring. Unfortunately, he has not been outstanding in the WJC so far, but I believe this is because he has no support on his team. Opposing clubs are smothering him when he gets the puck. He is also playing a ton and looks tired and at times frustrated with the way the tourney has gone for him.

MacT has been over at the World juniors and he has been keeping a close eye of Draisaitl. The Oilers have also made the trip east to Prince Albert to see him play. A big center that can play easily in your top nine and maybe top 6 is a big need for the Oilers. Draisaitl could be the answer.

The second player I have liked to fill a need for the Oilers is Swedish forward Anton Karlsson. He is eligible for the draft this year. Another big forward at 6’1, 190lbs. He is playing a fourth line checking roll for a very stacked Swedish team at the world juniors. In limited minutes he has stood out for me – Karlsson brings a spark to the team when he is on the ice by finishing checks, going to the hard areas and killing penalties.  He is a player that understands how to be an asset to the team by contributing to areas of weakness. What a crazy idea!!!

I have not seen enough of him playing in a different role to say what kind of offensive ability he has but so far this season playing junior hockey in Sweden he has nearly a point a game.

Both Draisaitl and Karlsson are two players the Oilers need to fill their system with. Big forwards (and especially in Karlsson’s case), players that will do anything to help his team win. I only hope that MacT and company are seeing the same issues I am.

  • Spurzey

    “Let me introduce to you first Mr. Leon Draisaitl. He is playing for Germany in the World juniors and has skated for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL the last two seasons. Depending on where you look, he is roughly 6’2 and 200lbs. He is the big center the Oilers are in desperate need of to compete with the Thornton’s and Getzlaf’s of the Pacific division.

    200lbs is actually below the NHL average

  • gus1000

    The only thing bold MacT sees is his BBQ sauce.

    I fear we end up trading Yakupov for those said magic beans and extend the life of ‘the rebuild’. Coach doesn’t like him, agent doesn’t like the coach. This won’t end well.

    And like I’ve said before, guys go to camp to earn a spot on the roster. Nurse was the best d-man in camp from the games I saw. Was there not proof there that he earned the 9 game tryout in the show?

    And the WJC is all politics, him not being selected was a farse, but it doesn’t affect what looks like a promising career. A WJC roster spot means nothing in the pros, ask Shawn Belle, or numerous other guys who made it, and never amounted to anything.

  • Jason Strudwick

    I don’t get all the Yak support. We have a team leaking goals against and people think the worst +/- in the league deserves more playing time over the other right wings?
    It’s his responsibility as a professional to get his game in gear. He’s not doing that, he doesn’t deserve ice time over the other right wings in the organization. period.
    He does need to go to OKC and learn his role. No one discounts his talent. But as we complain about an entitled generation of young people, Yak is a poster child. Earn your minutes, learn to be a pro, contribute to the team. Those are HIS responsibilities.
    He’s failed with top 6 minutes, he’s failed on the PP, he’s failed with protected minutes.
    Yak, needs some tough love to accept the fact he needs to listen and learn. Until then he can sit or play in OKC.

  • Jason Strudwick

    Wow, everyone seems to think that just because we want someone traded and should get top dollar in return that the rest of league is lining up to oblige. Isn’t every team looking for the same rock stars we are. With the exception of the top 10 teams in the league every other team wants stud D men, vezina goaltending, 40 goal scorers, etc.
    How many teams are rebuilding. As bad as the Oilers are listening to everyone complain and assume that trading Hemsky for Shea Webber is easy and MacT is an idiot for not doing it.
    As fans we’re coming as annoying as Leafs and Canucks fans. Yes we are entitled to expect more, but lets temper our expectations in some degree of reality

  • Jason Strudwick

    I remember a lot of activity and buzz about trades just prior to the 2013 draft. Very few were made which was very odd considering there are many teams, like Edmonton, that are poorly built and could thrive by make a few trades. I think Mac T was asked about the lack of trades and he replied with something like: we’re a bunch of stubborn men.

    The Oil has sucked for a long time. They may have to get creative and make some moves for grit players. I don’t think Nail will bring them much but he should be in play. Their first round pick might be another valuable asset to deal.