If the Edmonton Oilers don’t trade their first round pick in 2014, there’s a very good chance they’ll select Aaron Ekblad. The Buffalo Sabres are loaded with young defensemen and are likely to take a forward, and Edmonton looks like a good bet to finish 29th or 30th overall. Unless another team wins the lottery, the Oilers are going to have a chance at the big man.


No. ON has discussed this many times, Jason Gregor pointed out the facts here. The prevailing wisdom is correct, as pointed out by Jason:

  • In the past 25 years, only five times has the first D-man drafted turned out to be the best in his class:  #3 Scott Niedermayer in 1991, #1 Roman Hamrlik in 1992, #2 Chris Pronger in 1993, #1 Ed Jovanovski 1994 and Johnson in 2006. Since 1994, it has only happened once, so it is clear that it is become harder to project who will become the best defender out of an entire draft class.

I agree 100 times out of 100. If there’s a forward available who is better than the top defenseman, it makes that rule easy. Draft Nail, pass on Murray. Adam Larsson looks good? Take Nuge! However, what if there’s no clear choice among the remaining forwards, and in fact the #1 overall prospect is a defenseman?

That’s where we are headed.


Bob McKenzie’s mid-season rankings are out today, and Aaron Ekblad ranks #1 overall, ahead of a plethora of forwards. The list is here. The tsn link also gives insight into each player, including the defenseman.

  • Craig Button: When you build a team, you need a solid foundation. Aaron is a pillar defenceman who can play 25 minutes or more and do so in all important situations. His on-ice maturity is exceptional.

He’s a righty, and could form an insane tandem with Darnell Nurse a few years down the road. Added to the fact Edmonton has so many skill forwards they have little or no room to add another, is Ekblad the choice?


There are some interesting options, but Leon Draisaitl is falling down the list and the other OHL kids of note (Ritchie, Perlini, Dal Colle) have not emerged as clear lottery selections. The season still has some track to run, and the Oilers must be hoping for someone to pull out and pass the rest.


I’m no scout, and absolutely subscribe to the idea that teams should take a forward early and save the drafting of blue until later. One problem: no one is emerging.

We wait.

    • bazmagoo

      The Oilers definitely have to snag Ekblad if he’s available, but personally I think both him and Nurse would be best served playing professional next season. At the very least, give them both their 9 game look before deciding where they play. In an ideal world, I’d like to see them both in OKC next season.

      Not sure if that’s possible though, recall the AHL having some rule about the min age of their players.

    • Chainsawz

      ???? Oilers aren’t catching Calgary (Calgary 5 points up with a game in hand, playing better and getting injured players back after Olympic break even though they will be selling off at the trade deadline)

      Buffalo trails Oilers by 3 with 3 games in hand in the weaker Eastern Conference. Of course they can’t score and will be selling off hard at the deadline, but my prediction is….

      “The Edmonton Oilers are proud (even though we should be ashamed, humiliated and embarrassed) to select, for the fourth time in five years, first overall in the 2014 draft….Aaron Ekblad”

  • Chainsawz

    I wonder if Florida would flip picks and ship the Oilers Bjugstad? Then draft Ekblad if he’s still there at 4-5 (defensemen can fall) or maybe Draisaitl.

    I’d just like the Oilers to have a 6’6″ center with silky mits.

  • wiseguy

    Colorado taking McKinnon over Jones, was that a coin toss ,or just a real smart move. Remeber they were in need of D men more so than a forward.

    They were so sure, that they announced their move before the draft day. Turns out they made the right move, As McK, will be their best forward for years to come.

    Not saying Jones is a bad player…the Av’s made a play for a now player is all.

  • Serious Gord

    ….And if that curly headed Katz kid gives the draft pick the Oiler jersey I’ll….well I’m gonna…..somebody’s gonna get…….I’m gonna get real ….. I mean it, I’m gonna…..probably go up the basement stairs and go mow the lawn

  • toprightcorner

    I sure hope The Oilers are not making their first round pick as that would mean they have secured a top pair dman in a package.

    At the very leaset if they could trade down a bit and get a power forward likle Ritchie, Vertanen, Perlini or Tuch, all well over 200 lbs and 6’2″.

    Adding Ekblad means we “could” have a top 4 dman in 4 years. Using the pick in a Package for Yandle, Bufuglien or McDonagh is a far better option with the young guys in their prime with 5-6 years left in their contract.

    Gagner, pick and Klefbaum should easily get a deal done. Sign one of Girardi, Nikita, Niskanen, Markov or Orpik as a top four and an older veteran hard working 6/7 guy to help the rookie we will be vastley improved

    Bufuglien – Petry
    Girardi – J Schultz
    Ference – Marincin/Fedun

    Robidas or Sarich

    A defence like that this year ans we would still be in the hunt for sure

  • Word to the Bird

    Bear in mind that Ekblad was granted exceptional status upon entry into the OHL. You want to talk about great defensive prospects? This guy is the real deal.

  • Spoils

    D may be riskier, but a top D is hugely valuable.

    Did you watch what Bieksa and Hamhuis just did to us?

    Plus a top D can eat up 50% of the game. All you have to do is tie for the rest.

  • bwar


    With the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL entry draft the Edmonton Oilers are proud to select Connor McDavid.

  • outdoorzguy

    Anaheim and Pheonix arrive this weekend to inflict their specialkindofmisery upon the Oilers. The Oilers may get a point but as far as this season goes lets not do anything stupid. Like win.

    Eckblad and Bennet OHL. Rheinhart WHL. Oilers need a competitive 2cd line center who can play both ways. You take Rheinhart.

    Unless you feel Eckblad can step in next year.And some say he can. Then you take Eckblad.

    Bennet cane give you skill and also compete.Character.Gilmour loves him.He might be the guy.

    St Louis with the 31-33 pick. MP + thepick worked out well for them in some ways.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    On February 2 the Super Bowl is played. The next day Edmonton and Buffalo play in the Toilet Bowl. Mark it on the calendar folks. That could be the day we secure 30th spot.

  • outdoorzguy

    So if we do get Ekblad in the draft, and Nurse and Klefbom move up next year, is Steve Smith and Dallas Eakins really the guys we want to trust their development to?

    • outdoorzguy

      Stop with the first overalls I’m done with these kids. The Oilers don’t develop people well, we need strong Vets ASAP.

      OH but what about Taylor Hall Luck of the draw, literally.

  • vetinari

    Take Ekblad. Good defencemen are worth a premium in the NHL and with a few staggered in the pipeline (J. Schultz, Marincin, Klefbom, Nurse, and then Ekblad), we could be set for the next 5-10 years with the potential to deal one or two of them for help elsewhere, if needed. Frankly, our free agency options are limited and will continue to be limited until we post a few winning seasons and the draft is our best bet out of this sewer.

  • BobbyCanuck

    I would be very curious to find out that if any top projected draft picks reduce thier output in such a way that they fall out of the top 5. just so they do not wind up on a bottom feeding team?

    I know if I was Ekblad, I would start playing bad, but not bad enough to fall out of the first round, but thats just me, follow the path of least resistance to get to attain your goal.

    I do not know if the goal of draftees is just to make the NHL, win the cup, or win the lotto (contract)

    Any thoughts?

  • BobbyCanuck

    Let’s see……..we have been whining about not having a franchise defenceman for the better part of a hundred years, and we are discussing the potential of taking the BPA.

    For any one who thinks we should be talking a forward over a future franchise defenceman, just ask yourself where do you expect to find one of these??

    Team don’t trade them very often ……..the only way to get them is thorough the draft.

    If we take another highly skilled forward over Ekblad……..I’m done with the Oilers!

  • bazmagoo

    As a diehard Oilers fan and a diehard Penguins fan, I have to laugh at all the Letang hate. Ya, he has significant problems (see my earlier comment), but he would be the Oilers’ best defenseman by a huge (gaping chasm – like Grand Canyon scale) margin.

    Letang mans the point on the league’s best powerplay and plays significant minutes (2:03 per game) on the league’s best PK. He also plays a good physical game despite his small size.

    Letang’s turnovers would drive Oilers fans bat-sh*t crazy (sometimes I throw things at the TV when watching him in Pens games), but his ability to skate or pass the puck out of the D zone along with some pretty incredible offensive skill would make him a huge addition to the Oilers.

    As an Oilers fan, I would love to see the Pens trade him here. As a Pens fan, I don’t want to see that happen because Edmonton has nothing the Pens need or want except maybe Eberle and his contract would kybosh that pretty much right away.

  • Bucknuck

    Start of the year he was pegged as a #4 dman. Looks like he’s improved but don’t have your hopes up that he is going to be a guaranteed #1 Dman in the NHL.

  • bazmagoo

    Seems like both Nurse and Ekblad would have to play in either the CHL or NHL next season, neither are eligible to play in the AHL due to their wonky rule about having to have a minimum of 4 years experience in the CHL or be 20 years old, when coming from a CHL contract. Weird.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers, again will “fight” for last place. It doesn’t seem to matter, because the scouts have done a piss poor job in selecting their previous picks. I will guarentee, a small, “talented” forward, that will do nothing again. If these scouts were any good, they would have got rid of Kevin Lowe, because he has done more damage to these teams over the last 8 yrs. Unitl the owner, finally has had enough with him, this teams will struggle for yrs to come!!

  • toprightcorner

    Don’t be silly, Brian, if Ekblad is available when the Oiler first pick comes around they will take him. Book it. If he isn’t available, they will likely trade the pick or grab the biggest, meanist and most talented forward available. Given that Buffalo has talent on the blue line, and is only a little below average defensively, but dead last by a huge margin Offensively, they may well go for the best forward. If any other team picks ahead of the Oilers they will take Ekblad, as he is quite obviously the best choice in the draft, based on what we know.

  • toprightcorner

    “They”, the experts , say building a team from goaltending, defense, Center is the way to go. If Ekblad is available, take him . If not, parlay the pick into proven Tender, D-man, Center.

    Or do what Daryl and Harrison want. It’s their toy after all.

  • toprightcorner

    Ekblad will probably pull a Lindros and tell Oilers not to draft him. Even though I am an Oilers fan I would not blame him. The final legacy of LOWE.