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.

  • oilabroad

    Good article, I agree with most everything.

    A couple questions,

    what have you heard or seen about Klefbom to give you such high hopes? He isnt posting much for offense, are his defensive stats more compelling?

    Are you concerned that once again you are looking to the draft to fix the issues we have? I think we need to get a bit more experienced, the youth mistakes in my opinion are a big issue right now.

    If Nurse is the best defenseman in camp (which I expect him to be), do you think there is any chance management lets him go back to jr with a fan base that is already at wits end? Do you think he gets anything else out of another year of jr, he is already a point a game SHUT DOWN defenseman?


  • If the Oilers are on the clock when Ekblad is on the table, you go with Ekblad and it isnt even close. Him and Nurse go along way to fixing the defense here, because anyone who thinks Phaneuf, or Girardi is going to sign here needs to rethink that. No chance those guys even consider Edmonton, unless Edmonton pays them 20% higher than what the actual market is.

  • The oilers are going to be drafting top three.

    Reinhart or DalColle are the players that I hope they would take. Dal Colle is third in scoring in OHL and at 6-2 and 185 lbs and a late June birth date has lots of time to fill out.

    The oiler forwards are small but other than Belov the defence are midgets.That is were the real problem is .That will require some trades to fix.

  • 24% body fat

    Still bothers me that we want to get tougher to play against and bigger at center yet we decided to employ Will Acton instead of picking up Luke Adam or Patrice Cormier. Both are big centers who can move to wing and do have draft pedigree, can actually play hockey and are agitators.

    But Macintyre, Acton and Hamilton were better choices.

  • Double post… whatever. In light of all the negativity, here are some positives.

    Hall has truly elevated his game, and while he can’t single handedly make this team a playoff team, he’s often been the main reason we are even in some games. His big turnovers are still in his game, but they occur with far less frequency.

    Perron was such a steal of a deal, man did we fleece STL.

    Bryz is infinitely better than LABarbara and slightly better than Dubnyk. At first I figured there was ZERO chance of him resigning with us because if he plays awful we won’t sign him, and if he plays wel he will sign with someone else, but he seems to really get along with the boys so who knows.

    9-9-2 in the second 20(including a 6 game skid against the best teams). I expect better than this, but it is a big step forward from the first 20 games.

    Gordon, amazing pick up. I don’t even want to think about what our GAA would be without him. Often been our best player when nobody else shows up.

    Arcobello. Skates well, hits hard, and makes plays. Great surprise, breathing down gagner’s neck for the 2C spot.

    While Ebs hasnt looked himself, he’s still managing to produce and will likely finish with 65-70 points.

    Hemsky. Leads the team in takeaways. Primarily due to backchecking. His play has been great IMO. His minutes have been varied but he’s still going to produce 40-50 pts.

    Dubnyk looks like his game is back on track.

    Belov is finally shooting(god he needs a goal).

    The injury problem isn’t so bad right now.

    Nuge looks slightly improved in all areas of his game comparedto last year. I think ffaceoffs are starting to improve over the last 7-10 games as well for him.

    Nurse is captain of the first place team in the OHL. He plays the toughest QualComp in the ENTIRE LEAGUE, he’s a ppg, he’s big, and he’s mean as hell on the ice. Sutter and Canada likely won’t even beat the Czechs without him… oh wait.

    Last but not least, at the Philly game on Saturday I noticed something about the play of the players and how it was affected positively and negatively by the fans. In the third period for some reason the fans all decided to help the team with a good old fashioned ‘Let’s go oilers!’ Chant, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. For those brief moments, the team sped up and huge chances were generated. You might think the 6th man shouldn’t make a difference to a pro, but I swear to you it does. If you don’t think the crowd can have a major impact on the outcome of the game go to a seahawks game. I know the players havent earned it, but part of the fun is that the fans can feel like part of the team, and right now we aren’t doing our job. I’d like to see the fans just say F You to the opposing team. Maybe our players don’t show up every night but I’ll be damned if I don’t do everything I can to fire up our boys and heckle the crap out of the opposition. Mr.Katz, lower your $1287 beer prices, it’s time people started getting kicked out for cheering too loudly again.

      • ^ THIS

        The Oilers need to go to the draft with a huge sign that says “Open for business”. We’ve already got a crapload of young guys in the system. One more isn’t going to help this team take the next step.

        We’re past the point of drafting our way to legitimacy. As we’ve seen so far, that isn’t working. The job now is to start the real gritty part of the rebuild by trading high value picks, stripping non-performers and generally making the hard moves that’ll add balance and support the young core.

        Not sure about you guys but I’m sick of the endless draft talk and hoping/wishing the latest shiny new toy will somehow walk into the lineup and solve our problems. *cough* Yakupov *cough* It isn’t going to happen.

          • Spydyr

            I know it sucks to keep losing ,trust me. I feel for the tier one fans.

            The thing is this team is not going to challenge for at least three more years. So every move made now I would look at if the team is going to better in three years for it.

            A quick fix is nice a Cup is better.

          • Serious Gord

            And for the love of god and bobby Orr can we stop buying into the Klowe myth of tier one fans.

            There are not nearly as many season tickets sold as most assume – combo packs are far more common and are a growing trend across pro sports.

            Most season tickets are owned by businesses – big corps mostly who use them as a perk for clients and employees – the latter being a big part of what happens in EDM, CGY and WPG. So many – probably the majority – of seasons ticket seats are filled by what Klowe considers second tier fans.

            The remainder are bought by well-heeled individuals – most of whom i am assuming are also expensing them – probably illegally. Many more split them with friends or family members. So the very few season ticket holders who actually spend their own after tax money and actually watch all forty-one games maybe make up less than five percent is the seats in rexall/Rogers – maybe even far less than that. And really, should those few be allowed to way the oilers tail like Klowe says he does?

            So save your empathy for these very rare (and probably very financially secure) fans and give it to the hundreds of thousands who are the rank and file fans.

          • Spydyr

            If I was shelling out big bucks for this product I would be pissed. That is who I have empathy for.

            Personally I have stopped buying anything related to the Oilers.

            It is the only way one cannot contribute to this mess.

          • G-Unit

            I agree with not knee-jerk reacting to needs, but with a top end payroll, ticket prices through the roof and beer for your first born we should expect a quality product on the ice every game. Maybe not perennial cup contention, but an NHL team would be nice. Quick fix to competitive without dumping the future is possible.
            Somehow we have remained in front of Buffalo this season, maybe its the 20 million extra we pay for the 4 points.

          • SlaveLake

            It’s tough to envision the “quick fix”.

            2nd round pick given up for Perron this year?
            So trade 1st and 3rd pick for … who ?

            Free agency maybe sign another Gordon2.0, another Belov2.0 ?

            Hope the kids being another year older make the difference… hmmm

            Gregor says trade Yakupov. Lowetide says keep Yakupov… who knows.

            It’s tough to see what the fix is. If we trade the picks for “bold” moves then we essentially give up on a 2014 draft. Normally the teams that do this are in cup contention not basement dwellers.

            It’s actually quite interesting. If you ignore the lousy hockey that is.

          • Serious Gord

            Assuming your three year clock starts next year:

            By the end of those three years hall will be in his last year before becoming an RFA. So the team will have just one year to contend AND win the cup before the serial RFA / cap room plague hits the team – each year for the next three one of the untouchables becomes an RFA.

            So one year of competing for the cup before the teardown has to begin again.

            That is pretty lousy reward for the last seven years of awfulness.

          • Czar

            I don’t think my liver can take another 3 years of this, Bold is needed sooner rather than later.

            We need more guys right NOW who wear a mens extra large cup instead of a small.

          • SlaveLake

            13-14 D prospects

            Gets a taste of NHL – Klefbom, Marincin
            6-7 Defenseman – None
            Top four – None

            14-15 D prospects

            Gets a taste of NHL – Nurse, Simpson, Marincin
            6-7 Defenseman – Klefbom
            Top four – None

            15-16 D prospects

            Gets a taste of NHL – Ekblad, ???
            6-7 Defensman – Klefbom, Marincin, Nurse
            Top four – Klefbom? Nurse?

            Could be 16-17 season before the Oilers see Klefbom, Nurse, Marincin, Simpson, Ekblad? make any serious impact at the NHL level.

            So until then the Oilers are counting on free agents and some crazy magic like Gernat turning into a top four defenseman tomorrow ?

            That’s painful

          • Spydyr

            The problem is they built form wing out instead of defense, goal, center then wing. They got it bassackwards.

            Now by the time the defence, goal and center(outside the Nuge) are ready the wingers will be well on in their careers.

          • A-Mc

            Which is exactly why others are saying that the 1st round pick needs to be packaged to get a top pairing Defenseman: to skip ahead on D-man Development.

            As far as I’m concerned, the 1st round of this draft needs to have a DEFENSEMAN (read: Not centerman) coming to the Oilers. Either A) We pick the top Defenseman at this years draft (Ekblad) Or we send our 1st round pick + WhatEverElseIsNeccessary, to land an established Top Pairing Defenseman.

            It is much easier to find someone who could plug a 2C role (Even if it’s not the greatest fit) than it is to find a #1/2 defenseman.

            As far as i’m concerned, i’d send our 1st rnd pick + Gagner + Prospect to a team if the return was a true #1/2 D-man coming back our way.

    • 24% body fat

      Or Ekblad,

      A possible Chris Pronger is Harder to get than a 2C. If we get Ekblad than we can use the surplus of D prospects to package for that center.

      • I’d like him, but he’s not even close to having Pronger potential. I’d still like to get him though. I think Nurse is better than Ekblad, despite the age difference. I’m not the only one either. Sutter messed up huge by not having him on the team.

        • 24% body fat

          Sorry with out picking on you specifically, why does he not have pronger potential. Is this your opinion. The way most people judge prospects are on gut feelings about them. Unless you watch his team day in and day out how do you judge an opinion on him.

          I have heard scouts compare him to pronger. Professional amature Scouts that is my source.

          • All I have to judge him on is the WJC, boxcars, the exceptional status special, and some YouTube. But the odds are simply against him even having POTENTIAL of a Pronger type.

            Pronger is a once every 10-15 years type player. It’s just really not likely. From what I’ve seen, his skating and offensive upside are not as good as nurse’s. He is a little better positional player, but that’s it.


  • Jason Strudwick

    Nice artical Struds, always nice to hear of lesser known players still draft eligible. What about goaltending though? Any standout draft eligible goalies?

  • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

    Nice artical Struds, always nice to hear of lesser known players still draft eligible. What about goaltending though? Any standout draft eligible goalies?

  • 24% body fat

    What makes you so sure that Klefblom will “come around”? What have you seen that gives you this confidence. Would you have had the same assessment of Colton Tuebert 3 years ago?