The Edmonton Oilers have Jeff Petry just past 200 NHL games, Justin Schultz in the 90s and Martin Marincin just past a baker’s dozen. The club also has Darnell Nurse ripping up junior, and a large number of prospects posting improving arrows in the AHL. How many of these kids can they develop in the next two seasons?


Corey Pronman’s Top 50 Prospects (paywall)

  • 8. Darnell Nurse, D, Edmonton Oilers: He wasn’t chosen to be on Canada’s team for the WJC, but I don’t think that is indicative of where Nurse is as an NHL prospect — he brings a ton to the table. He’s big, mean, a great skater and is pretty effective in both ends of the rink. His decisions aren’t always perfect and his shot could be a little better, but he’s a top-end prospect.

  • Willis: Klefbom has had struggles this year, but it does seem like he’s turned a corner. No other player on the blue line, or even on the team for that matter, has a wider gap between where he was at the start of the year and how he’s played the last few games. Taylor Fedun has been excellent throughout, Martin Marincin has made progress and Martin Gernat and David Musil have both evolved, but only with Klefbom have the strides been so large.


  • Dallas Eakins on Martin Marincin: " he’s a young kid trying to get his feet wet, he has played excellent for us, he’s had a great number of games in a row where on some nights he’s maybe been our most consistent and solid D."

  • Todd Nelson on Martin Gernat: “We’re starting to see the offensive side to him. With these young guys it’s always a work in progress. They have to learn all the things about going through their first pro season and try to develop some consistency.”


These are good young prospects, but they won’t all turn out, and even the ones who do won’t end up playing the heart of their careers as Oilers. Some 40+ years ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs had an enormous number of young and talented defensemen who all arrived at basically the same time.

1970-71 Toronto Maple Leafs

That’s an insane group of young players, six of those guys were considered to be good to outstanding prospects at the time. The Leafs should have employed most of these men through the 1970s, but the WHA came along and raided most of them. By 1973-74 though, Toronto had recovered.

1973-74 Toronto Maple Leafs

I think there’s a lesson here, even without the Godless WHA raids. Defensemen, like objects in your rear view mirror, may be closer than they appear (Marincin being an example) and may also be a mirage.

The odds of Edmonton ever employing a top 7D of Ekblad, Nurse, Petry, Schultz, Marincin, Klefbom and Gernat are zero. Some will flush out because of injury and some will be sent away for other needs.This extreme cluster development in a short time also clouds Dillon Simpson’s future—the Oilers have an outstanding NCAA prospect who may get blocked in the pro organization. Or he may, as I’m suggesting is possible, be one of the young men who ends up staying while others depart the scene.

It is an impressive group, and this season has some very good arrows.

(All Barons photos by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved)

  • finn_fann

    This article is a sign of good things happening in my opinion. Marincin is the first player who has been drafted and developed in the OKC system, and he seems to have made the jump better than a LOT of other prospects in the past. The fact that Klefbom, Fedun, Gernat, and Simpson are still knocking at the door of NHL employment and haven’t already been washed by injury or poor play is a sign that our current drafting department (ie. since Prendergast got canned) is doing a decent job at identifying value prospects.

    The forwards seem to be doing okay as well, with Chase and Yakimov looking like keepers, Pitlick pushing for 4-line duty and Moroz seeming to figure out how to use his stick as well as his body.

    It’ll be interesting in a year or two to see what Eakins can do with players who have been trained how to actually play a system before jumping straight to the NHL.

  • finn_fann

    We have an AHL club no better than 13th out of 15 , that if two clubs below them win their games would drop us to last in AHL as well . Now tell me how you can be so positive that our AHL club is going to do much good transitioning usefull NHL players to our equally poor NHL team ? Sounds like more Kool-Aid and a pipedream to me . Is this what this organization has been taken/reduced to ? Where’s the real optimism , and not the salesman job ?

    • finn_fann

      The focus of OKC has been on prospect development this year, not winning. Hence the team has a big crop of new defencemen with little pro experience, as opposed to a bunch of career AHLers hired to make us look good in the win column.

      As the oilers have shown us, filling a team with inexperienced players and asking them to play a level above their ability is not going to win many games. It is, however, a decent way to learn on the job, assuming that a player is allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. This is what the AHL team is for – players aren’t under the microscope for every little mistake they make while still learning the broader strokes of the game.

      Also, I would say that a player like Marincin would have legitimate appeal to teams outside the oilers. If you want to devalue the few players that seem to be making strides within the system, that is up to you, but I don’t think recognizing the odd area where the team is having some success is the same as drinking oilers Kool-aid.

  • finn_fann

    I think that some of those d prospects may go into a trade to get an nhl vet dman here.

    Its unfortunate, but we were too late to the party to develop dmen. YOu build from the backend out. we built up front and then started working on dmen too late in the game. we should have been drafting dmen in 2007-2010, then picked Hall.

    Alas, KLowe has no plan.

  • Serious Gord

    2014 crop of UFA defensemen do not look very promising. Trade and hopefully development is what we have to work with. If we do pick up Ekblad, he should spend another year in JR and do a stint in OKC. Marincin is still young but he is showing that proper development and patience is paying off. Imagine if we let the development course run with Nurse, and potentially Ekblad…

    I would like to hear the nations thoughts on DalColle…If Buffalo picks Ekblad (would look nice beside Ristolanen) we would be left with Reinhart or Draisaiti or DalColle.

    Im liking DalColle as I see his game much like a Monahan (Bigger skilled Center with skills) but better skater and would fit in – with time again with any of our top 2 lines.

  • Word to the Bird

    Well now that the Patriots are out and my least favorite team in the CFL won the Grey Cup, this is officially the worst season for sports in history.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Oilers are in a good position with defense prospects.
    I believe defense wins championships. And mentorship is important for player development.
    So trade one or two of the young forwards for a number 1 or 2 defenseman. Young prospect will be able to learn from veteran. Something oilers couldn’t do for the young offensive prospects.

    • finn_fann

      “His first year was far from successful, setting all-time team lows in Wins, Goals, Goal Differential, and Powerplay Percentage […] The next year brought a slightly better team to work with, and better results, still missing the playoffs but attaining his first winning record, and taking a -68 goal differential to a +9.”

      Not saying I have any confidence in Eakins’ ability to do this at the NHL level, but here’s hoping that he can repeat this trend. He’s definitely got the first part down!

    • Rick Stroppel


      This article is kind of funny. The writer says that Edmonton and Eakins were made for each other. He calls it a “marriage made in heaven”. Right now it is looking like a living hell.

      Eakins should go back to Toronto, where he will fit right in. That is because he thinks that his sh!t smells like roses.

  • pkam

    Oiler fan thought Klebomb was going to be in the top pair this year.
    Oiler fan thinks The Mickey Mouse Club has a realistic opportunity to trade a lottery ticket, an over-rated stick of a no-hit Dman, and an over-rated prospect for the reigning Norris Trophy winner.
    Full Retard, as has always been the case in this city.

      • Rick Stroppel

        I don’t think we over value our prospects. I think it’s completely realistic that Nurse comes into the NHL next year. I also completely expect him to slap around every princess in that room until they grow some balls and play like men. And bring one or two of his accomplished relatives to do the same to Eakins.

        Do you automatically win the Calder if you win the Norris ?

    • Zarny

      Nicklas Lidstrom didn’t throw a lot of hits. You have a somewhat poor understanding of what playing defense means.

      Klefbomb certainly isn’t going to be a top pair D this year or next. Ultimately only time will tell. For you to say otherwise is foolish.

      Kris Letang was drafted in 2005 and didn’t top 50 pts until 2010-2011. Duncan Keith didn’t play in the NHL until 3 years after he was drafted and only had 21 pts and was -11. He didn’t top 40 pts until 6 years after being drafted.

        • Romanus

          It is a backward rebuild.

          By the time these #1 picks become competitive. All of the best defensive prospects will be rookies.

          By the time MacT realizes he needs a winning coach to attract free agents, well… it might be summer 2015.

          • pkam

            So what the Oilers management should have done differently?

            what do you think they should do in 2010 instead of drafting Taylor Hall? Use our 1st overall to draft a defenseman, so Erik Gudbranson or Cam Fowler? I wonder what would you say if the management drafted any of the 2 defensemmen instead of Hall.

            So Larsson over RNH in 2011?

            You can plan all you want, unfortunately the reality usually doesn’t follow your plan.

            Just look at LA Kings, they drafted Brown and Kopitar before Doughty. I guess their rebuild is also a backward one.

          • S cottV

            How about making smarter trades? Building a better Dcore? Getting better goaltending?? Rebuilding isn’t all just about who you pick with the first overall picks!! It’s about building a team and management has done a lousy job at that! It’s pathetic actually how terrible they’ve done

          • pkam

            So you think MacT doesn’t try to trade for a better D core?

            We now all know MacT tried to get Hendricks. We also know he wanted to sign Clarkson. We also know he wanted to trade for Schneider. We also know he wanted to trade away Hemsky. The question is we don’t know all his attempts that failed for whatever reason. When something didn’t happen, we assume the management was not trying.

            When we didn’t see what we want, we criticize the management for not trying hard enough. We said we were willing to overpay. When the management overpay to get a player or a prospect, we criticize them for making stupid trades. Who knows what the other side ask for a defense.

            We heard that Canucks want our 1st and 2nd plus one of Pitlick or Marincin for Schneider. Perhaps you would want to make the trade, I don’t.

            I’ve heard that they asked Phoenix about Yandle, and they want one of our fav 5, our 1st and 2nd, and a top prospect like Pitlick or Marincin. Perhaps you are okay with that too, not me.

          • Zarny

            Haha…understatement of the year.

            The frustration is completely understandable and justified.

            I appreciate few want to hear the word patience. So instead I think it’s a matter of focusing on perspective.

          • Zarny

            Unfortunately patience will be the only thing to keep a person sane. No one wants to hear it and neither do I, but all we can do is sit, wait and hope that one day we’ll be spending our time watching a good team make runs in the playoffs. I’ll have to brush up on how the playoff format even works if we ever get there. Who knew this rebuild would be so long and frustrating

  • pkam

    If we start next season with any more than 1 of Marincin, Fedun, Nurse, Klefbom or Ekblad, if we draft him, then management is not doing their job. I don’t mind giving some guys a look down the stretch here but those guys should go to camp next season competing for one spot on the bottom pairing.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Don’t worry about team lunch or dinner before the next game (oilers) just a bench brawl it is the fastest way of building team chemistry and bonding as a team.

  • pkam

    So when should the jersey’s be thrown on the ice in the Nucks game?? Opening faceoff? End of the eventual loss?? Right after we let up another short handed goal???

  • Romanus

    The only player with positive plus/minus on the team is Ryan Jones. This is a joke, fire this guy Eakins, throw lots of jerseys at the game. Eakins said it’s disrepectful to throw jersey onto the ice, well it’s disrepectful for the fans to see how badly the Oilers play each night. The fans pay for their salaries, so Oilers need a real coach to get the team play more competitively.

  • Romanus

    You people make me laugh!!!
    Why is this website bent out of shape and can only discuss a “rebuild”?
    The 29 other NHL teams have sites that talk about hockey success. My advice to you all: keep buying tickets and merchandising. We will soon sell Ekblad & McDavid jerseys. First come first served. Suckers.

  • camdog

    LT has just shown the upcoming D talent in the Oilers system. Unfortunately there is very little offensive talent coming, particularly at center. Therefore, at this years draft, the Oilers should be drafting a 2C rather than a D man.

    Given the ineptitude of the team, the prime candidates are Reinhart, Draisaitl and Bennett. Personally, I like what Draisaitl seems to offer. Some offensive talent, size, scoring and playmaking ability.

    If before the draft we are able to off load Gagner for decent value, I would be ecstatic.

  • Zarny

    From a Puck Daddy article, regarding Hendricks:
    “So maybe it comes down to something as simple and indefinable as “leadership.” Maybe he’ll yell at Taylor Hall for taking a shift off, or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for not coming off quickly enough on a power play. Get guys to pay attention to “the finer details” or whatever you want to call them. ”

    Really? That’s what we brought him in for? He’s barely been a serviceable NHL player this year, and is on a downhill trajectory. Yes, he’s willing to fight, but so is Gazdic, whom we already had. Hendy takes a roster spot away for supposed toughness and leadership.

    But given how kid-glove-treatment gets given to Hall, RNH, Eberle, etc., no remotely smart player in the room is going to challenge them, or they’ll find themselves on the way out of town, a la Smid. Then again, now that I’ve said it out loud, maybe that’s what Hendricks SHOULD do. Get himself out of a city and a team he never wanted to play for in the first place.

    Probably no better way than to go around picking fights with the golden boys who are beyond reproach. No one is going to bother yelling at the kids—no point. They’ve learned how to lose, and everyone knows–they are here to stay. You can yell at them, the coach can yell at them, try to get them to compete, to play better/smarter, but at the end of the day, those kids know they are not going anywhere. They have their contracts. And they will not be traded. Pointless for anyone to try to change them–barring MacT from telling each of the stars that they will be available for trade and/or benching, they have no reason to change anything they’re doing. Nice paycheck, little effort, short season.

    • camdog

      The culture of this organization for many years has been to get rid of all of the expierenced veterans that challenged the young guns. Post season interviews focused on getting rid of the Horcoffs, to force the young guns to take ownership of this team.

      I personally feel that a culture change is needed within the organisation. Giving A’s to elite talent that don’t know how to win in the NHL, when they don’t really provide leadership is wrong. You can’t force a guy to lead. When Smid wasn’t given an A this season it was a message to him that veteran leadership is not welcomed in this organisation. This cancerous belief is in grained within the entire management group and it needs to change.

      • S cottV

        The whole issue of team captains is probably under estimated with regard to the predicament the Oilers find themselves in.

        If a team is over achieving – its usually strong leadership that drives it and visa versa. I think we all agree the Oilers are under achieving to some degree, so – a lack of leadership is likely a factor.

        Heard an interesting comment from the Jets camp that said Maurice had assumed the leadership of the team and would hand it back to the player group in due time. Beautiful – that is the way its done.

        A coach has to be very careful, who he appoints as team captains. He needs to pick the right influencers within the player group, covering a spectrum that most players can fall in line with. You need a couple of “good guy” leaders and at least one “bad guy” leader.

        I really dislike the home and away captains approach, where you hand extra guys letters to in theory – spread the leadership around, amongst a larger group. True leadership that really stands out – is rare and its unlikely that 6 or 7 guys have the “right stuff.” Further – if you decorate guys with a letter, for the wrong appeasement reasons, he effectively becomes an anti leader, taking away from this vital process. If you have too many decorated leaders, it can get to the point where there is no real leadership because it just gets too blurred out.

        I suspect the Oilers have appeased for the wrong reasons with some of their young hot shot Asst Captains. This ingrains the “entitlement” process from top to bottom within the organization.

        The last thing you want are “entitled” leaders and or non-competent leaders as some guys are just not cut for it, or – not cut out for it at too young an age, regardless of hockey talent.

        All concerned with the Oilers could use a good dose of over achievement from this player group, for a change.

        Over achievement is driven by leadership and I think some changes to the present leadership structure are probably necessary.

  • pkam

    This is a big reason why I think the Oilers rebuild is failing. Other successful teams drafted grit, defence, and character guys all before getting those big first overall super stars.

    So there was already a nicely developed team that just needed some super stardom boost. The oilers, by contrast, got the stars fist and now have to develop a talented pool of D men in order to get the team where it needs to be.

    I hope they use some of these prospects to trade for some help on D right now, and or to balance out the top six.

    If I was Mac T, Hemsky, Gagner, Yak, Ebs, Klefbomb, Nurse, Marincin, Gernat, and our 1st round pick would all be on the trade block. I would also try like hell to sign Matt Moulson and Ryan Callahan in free agency if they become available from their respective teams.

    With those two signed the RW position becomes pretty stocked and they can afford to get rid of one of Hemsky, Ebs, or Yak depending on what is being returned.

    With Moulson, The Oil defence begins to get some vets that can help which ever prospects don’t get traded. Obviously not all these guys get traded, but I think a few can go to get some pieces that make the Oilers a better team.

  • Zarny

    No, the Oilers 7 D will never be Nurse, Ekblad, Petry, Schultz, Marincin, Klefbom, and Gernat/Simpson. We’ve seen the consequences of playing a bunch of young kids prone to making mistakes together on forward.

    It’s a positive sign however, that there is a logjam of D prospects ready to make the jump to the NHL. That was the intent of the rebuild.

    The blueprint is evident when you look at contenders like Pit, Chi and LA.

    Their rebuilds were not based on draft picks over 3 years. More like 6-8. And many were not 1st overall or even 1st round picks. The Oilers need some of their 2nd and 3rd round picks to develop into core players.

    D like Keith, Weber, Pietrangelo and Letang took 2-3 years to make the NHL. More importantly, with few exceptions they didn’t start out playing top pairing minutes. Weber, Pietrangelo and Letang all started out playing behind players like Timonen, Zidlicky, Brewer, Jackman, Gonchar and Whitney.

    Meanwhile, Schultz leads all Oiler D TOI/game by almost a minute and half.

    Given that Petry and Schultz are already inexperienced the Oilers should target no more than 2 D prospects to add over the next 2-3 years.

    The rest of the prospects should be traded to fill holes at other positions or acquire D already in their prime.