Dillon Simpson’s progress from freshman through senior at North Dakota has been impressive. The Oilers draft choice will graduate this spring as a complete defenseman and a top pairing player for UND.  Where will he fit in with the Oilers? How long will it take for him to be NHL ready?


Usually, four years of college prepares a player for the NHL a little better than 2 years (after draft) of junior hockey. A lot of that comes from being more mature (four years versus two), but Simpson is 20 years old and in his senior year (he’ll turn 21 around Valentine’s Day).

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Recent Oiler prospects who have come the college route took little time to reach the NHL:

  • Jeff Petry: 41 AHL games before NHL arrival
  • Tom Gilbert: 48 AHL games before NHL arrival
  • Tom Poti: 0 AHL games before NHL arrival

This of course is miles shorter than most junior grads, but we have to keep in mind that most of the college men arrive in pro hockey when they’re early 20’s. Gilbert was 23, Petry 22 when they arrived in the NHL. Simpson, should he play in the NHL next season, would be 21.


In September, I had him #7 on the prospect depth chart, and behind defenders Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat. When he signs (and that’s not done yet, obviously) he will also have to deal with men like David Musil, Taylor Fedun and Brandon Davidson in order to get to the NHL.

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Coach Dave Hakstol: "He’s only 20 years old, we have freshmen older than him. But it’s really not about the date on your birth certificate, it’s about your level of maturity and your life experiences, your mindset and your ability to be consistent and accountable and do things the right way. I think Dillon is at the highest level of those areas."

Simpson’s consistent play and calm feet, along with his willingness to sell-out to make the play (there are 22 million results for "Dillon Simpson shot blocking") suggests he might be a nice complement to all these chaos puck movers who are about to move into the Oilers blue.


The Oilers have to sign Simpson, and that’s not a slam dunk. The Stu MacGregor scouting team clearly drafted a guy in the fourth round who is performing at a very high level. Chances are Edmonton will have to pay a handsome bonus, and then there’s the matter of making certain the young man doesn’t shy away from the young depth chart ala Riley Nash.

I don’t really believe Dillon Simpson is about shying away from anything. His UND career suggests quite the opposite.

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  • Big Cap

    After 8 years, there is NO chance Craig will send his kid down this road and into this Oilers disaster.

    I’m fully expecting a hold out or some trade scenario that would result him playing an a contending team in the US.

    • TayLordBalls

      I’d be more inclined to agree if young Simpson was either @ the end of his first contract or had a higher –Schulzish — profile. He’s not quite at that level of leverage.

      I do agree that his father’s current relationship with his old team, and his perception of their overall coaching and playing staff, will play a big factor, as much as we all moan about “the old boys club”.

  • derrickhands

    The good news is there will lots of contracts available to give out this summer to prospects.Minus the deadwood like Eager,Smack Potter and Grebby and so forth. There should be plenty of room for him on the Oilers 50 player roster.

    • derrickhands

      I think he, and others in OKC, will get a look after the deadline.

      There is something of an administrative issue here with regards to clearing out space on the 23 man roster for call ups. They,d like to get so e kind of assets back for the guys being cleared out, even if it’s only 6th or 7th rounders.

      “Pruning the tree” should be the first step of any genuine rebuild. IMO — the Oilers are very poor at making the kind of decisions required in this process. (Remember the ridiculous 3 goalie situation so that JDD wouldn’t be exposed to waivers?)

    • Lowetide

      MacT said a few weeks earlier that players like Klefbom and others will get a chance to play in the second half.

      I would assume that translates into a few trades – maybe Belov, Nultz (please give him away… please), and maybe others – will be on their way out and the kids from OKC can show what they can do for the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the season.

  • derrickhands

    Everything management has done has led to this point. Worst team in the NHL for the last 7.5 yrs. Why would anyone think they know what they are doing.

    Until they change their philosophy on how to win in the NHL they will continue to be a bad hockey team.

    All the signings the drafts the trades is all noise. Cure the disease not the symptom

  • derrickhands

    Allan your a bit out to lunch to believe Simpson will be sign and if he is it’s because of the OLD BOYS CLUB. The fact is that Dillon Simpson skating is below par and not at a NHL caliber. He doesn’t bring size or grit, doesn’t have that monster shot, so why do the Oilers sign him? Musil, and Davidson are ahead of him on that pecking order. Just have to talk to a couple of scouts and they’ll tell you the same about his skating.

    • Lowetide

      When Simpson went to UND, and during his draft year, there was a lot of verbal about his skating. Simpson was very young for college, playing against guys who were many years older.

      As he’s matured, Simpson’s skating has gone from being a negative to a positive based on scouting reports.

      You never know until they get to training camp, but Simpson appears to be the real deal.

      • Lowetide

        Im sure derrickhands follows each and every UND game and knows a lot more than you…

        wtf! how are fans already getting negative on a 20yr old kid who hasnt played a game in the NHL or AHL. “greatest fans in the world”…

  • Guy Lafleur

    I have faith in Stu and Cru , i grew up in Kamloops watching the greatest team in junior hockey history win 3 Memorial Cups in 4 years , the architects behind those great Kamloops teams were STU and Mr Bob Brown . Just look at Kamloops record since they left , exactly .

        • Spydyr

          Since 2007 Stu has held the position of Director of Amateur Scouting for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League.

          So 18 in 2007 is 24-25 now. Nice try.

          Other then the number one picks the only player currently on the Oilers picked by Stu is Martin Marincin

          • O.C.

            Stu MacGregor
            From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
            Stu MacGregor
            Citizenship Canadian
            Occupation Director of Scouting
            Years active 2007 – present
            Employer Edmonton Oilers
            Organization National Hockey League
            Stu MacGregor is a Canadian ice hockey executive. Since 2007 he has held the position of Director of Amateur Scouting for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL).
            MacGregor was the General Manager for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League from 1995 to 1998, before taking a scouting position with the Dallas Stars of the NHL. He joined the Edmonton Oilers in 2000, and in 2008 he replaced Kevin Prendergast as the Oiler’s Director of Amateur Scouting.[1]

            2007 was a horrible set of choices made in the draft. He took over in 2008.

            2009 was a poor draft, I’ll give you that. Looking at that draft, not many home runs for any team. Must have been a product of horrible coaching through the peewee years that didn’t develop players for the changes in play perhaps.

            That brings us to 2010. I stand by the post.

            In reality, the biggest problem was the immense pressure by the fan base for immediate change, inserting teenaged players into a man’s lineup. In retrospect, the correct way to develop, and great a massive revolt from the ticket base, would be to return Gagner, Hall, Nugent Hopkins, Yakapov to junior. They can do that now, with a core change in strategy and mindset.

            The early insertion into the lineup, and choice not to develop in junior, is not on the scout’s shoulders. Nor is the continual change in coaching. There’s no denying the talent picked. The question comes down to Management’s choices to look at the talent and fail to make moves, either at the draft or by trades, to fill needs.

            The Al Davis strategy of BPA, and not creating a foundation of stable coaching philosophies, and also a failure to fill based on needs, is not on the shoulders of those who identify the talents of amateurs.

          • O.C.

            2008 was Stu’s first draft where he found a home run in Eberle and a bit players who achieved far more then his draft slot would indicate in Hartikainen. Both these player are 23, not 24-25.

            2009 which by eye is Stu’s worst draft will still bring in 2 NHL players in MPS and Lander. If you get 2 NHLers in a draft your doing the right thing.

            I don’t know how anyone can really criticize Stu with the work that he’s done. Yes his 2nd round picks are underwhelming but I think his 4th round and later steals in Gernat, Simpson and other high potential player more then equalize things.

            Obviously prospect potential changes but so far on what we can judge, Stu is a magnificent Ba$tard

        • a lg dubl dubl

          don’t forget the lack of decent vets to lean on. Dithers set this team back at least 2 years in the rebuild, and should have been let go after his 2nd yr, that I do lay blame on Lowe for.

          EDIT: I was trying to reply to spyder at the same time lol

  • RCN

    The fact Simpson hasn’t signed yet makes me wonder if his end-game is waiting til August 15th to become a UFA & pick his spot. LOTS of left-shot D on the depth chart here, including Marincin, Klefbom & Nurse. Wouldn’t be shocked to see him moved in Hemsky deal for better prospect.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    if they sign Simpson to a contract, i feel that he’s likely now ahead in the rankings of Musil, Gernat and Davidson, who all appear to need more seasoning. if Simpson is NHL ready after this season, he’s got to be given a chance to make the team. i have my suspicions though that he, along with Marincin, may be trade bait for an experienced d-man, and that’s too bad. i’m pretty sure other teams are aware of how well Simpson has developed in college, and that has trade value.

  • Serious Gord


    “Usually, four years of college prepares a player for the NHL a little better than 2 years (after draft) of junior hockey.”

    where is your proof of that?

  • Slapshot

    If you were Dillion Simpson and you had a choice on were you could sign ,I would think the Oilers would be at the bottom of that list, after watching this mess for 8 plus years ,why would any decent hockey player want to be a part of it?

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          who says Klefbom and Marincin are guaranteed jobs ahead of Simpson? if we can’t sign a good UFA d-man, we might have to trade one of the above 3 to get him. it could be Simpson, but it could also be Marincin or Klefbom as all 3 do have good value. say if a team like the Flyers needed to dump a contract like Coburn, they would want one of those 3 back you would think, right?

        • O.C.


          Isn’t that a better opportunity than most other starting lineups?

          Would any of the other teams with holes have a better long term projection? Going to Buffalo or Calgary isn’t a great option.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      because, unlike the pessimistic fan base here that thinks the team will never, ever improve, players realize that this simply isn’t true and when this team finally fires on all cylinders, they will likely be serious contenders, that’s why.

      • Slapshot

        After 8 years of missing the playoffs,5 head coaches,4 lottery draft picks and you call the fan base pessimistic? Keep drinking the Rexall Kool Aide ,it will be years before this team fires on all cylinders,Mactavish isn’t going to waive a magic wand and make it all better.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          it will get better eventually, right? but if you listen to some, they think it will always be like this forever. it won’t, so i am choosing to not be pessimistic, let the past be the past, and hope that the people on top have learned something. we’ll see.

          • M22

            I get the point you are making here, but I thought exactly the same as you, 5, 4, and 3 years ago. In the meantime, my confidence in this group has eroded to almost non-existent. One needs to see signs along the way that point to a reason for renewed optimism, no?

            I never expected us to make the playoffs this year, but to be fighting off the Buffalo Sabres for 30th? Again? This is not good. Far too many things this group does leaves me shaking my head.

            Is there another team in all of pro sports, not just the NHL, that uses the “hire all ex-players/close freinds” model that Katz is soiling this organization with? There may be, but I can’t think of one. I’d rather they just go hire the best people they can find. It’s impossibly coincidental that the best they can find just so happen to be old Oilers.

            I hope I turn out to be wrong, because we are stuck with what we have for a good long while, it seems. I hope this group brings us a Cup, and that I eat my pessimistic words.

      • Serious Gord

        Or the team collapses – the stars start demanding trades and the team continues to be in the bottom third of the league. And the current FOKs in management continue on being unaccountable.

        Good luck attracting players then.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          if the team “collapses” and continues to be in the bottom 3rd of the league for a couple of more years, then you’d have to think the old boys club would be fired then…i have to at least hope that Katz’s loyalty to the old boys can only go so far? and the “be patient” BS can only be used for so long before it get’s old too.

        • JSR

          There should be some worry about that but a lot of clubs should be worried then. Jon Tavares in NYI should be demanding a trade any day now since he was selected in 2009 and the Islanders have been mired in mediocrity. Generally players seem to want to give their team a chance. I do agree that after a long period though the players patience does start to wear thin. Rick Nash in Columbus for instance. Drafted back in 2002 he waited for about a decade until he realized that whatever Columbus was trying to build around him wasn’t working, now both sides are better off. Hopefully that doesn’t happen here.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        And probably wishes more than anything that he HADN’T done that now. You almost have to feel for the guy—snubbed the Ducks, wanted to come to the Oilers. Now look at where those teams are. Junior Schultz’s career is never even going to get a chance to take off here

        • D-Unit

          I don’t think a fan should feel bad for a guy who, for whatever reason (I would really like to know) snubbed the team who drafted him.

          If Schultz or his agent weren’t smart enough to realize it was going to be a while before the Oilers were contenders, he should have signed with the Ducks. Or they are as inept as the Oilers POHO or Owner to think they would be better.

          • geeker99

            I bet he regrets signing with this under performing over paying dump of a team they have. Will not get anywhere until they split the goon squad of Hall and Eberle, both of them are party animals who dont care about winning

          • Zarny

            Hall and Eberle don’t care about winning? Really. Hall won I believe two memorial cups and was was voted MVP twice. Also didn’t Eberle score some very big goals for the Canadian juniors?
            The fans that throw jerseys on the ice should be barred for at least one year, and when they do make the playoffs no entry. I have seen the best of the Oilers and unfortunately the worst of the Oilers. A true fan never gives up on his team. What you didn’t party in your twenties? I am pretty 99.9percent of the people on here did.Mac is slowly fixing this disaster Lowe and Tambo created.

  • Slapshot

    IMO, Simpson was drafted based on his name alone.

    LT cites Petry, Poti, Gilbert as comparisons. All soft and not what we need.

    Skating ability? If any doubt, take a pass. Already have Musil and his bad skating.

    LT, you ever see him live in order to state how good his progression has been?

    And why would he sign here when he can probably go the Schultz route??

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      LT used those 3 as comparison because they too took the college route and not major junior.

      Please read carefully before making judgements and looking like a crazed fan. Your post is moot till then.

  • Romanus

    “we have to put more pucks on the net, capitalize on our scoring opportunities and play a full 60 minutes”….there, I just commented for all the Oilers players for the rest of the year and won’t have to read any more articles after any more games.

  • D-Unit

    Tough crowd,

    20 year, Hobey Baker, 4 year of college hockey …. What has everyone down again??

    Adding talent into the defense blender is one way to address a rebuild.

    It has been quite some time that we might have upto 12 people competing for 6 roles.

    Up to now we have had 4 NHLer playing the wrong spot on our depth chart.

    It appears we have focussed on a weakness and one our two solutions might make it the NHL.

    Petry, J.Shultz, Nurse, Fedun, Kelfblom, Marincin, Gernat, Musil, Davidson, Simpson, Belov, ….Ekblad??? …. 12 Dman under 25 years old. Add in Ference as a 5/6/7 and one other.

  • D-Unit

    The Toronto Maple Leafs were interested in drafting Craig Simpson first overall in 1985. Simpson was an Ontario kid who was rated the number one scoring prospect of that draft.

    Craig realized the Leafs were an absolute joke of an organization, and basically told them he would prefer not to go there. The Leafs drafted drafted Wendel Clark (then a defenceman) first overall and Simpson was chosen at #2 by Pittsburgh .

    Now if Craig was able to make that sort of analysis as a college kid, I’m sure he will advise his son to pursue free agency and choose the best situation for his career. I doubt that includes the Oilers.

  • JSR

    I’m a little confused….he’s 20 years old and graduating from UND? Did he graduate from high school at 16, and immediately go to university?

    My thoughts are he will not sign in Edmonton, much like Schultz did not sign with Anaheim…

    • camdog

      His birthday is in Feb. He was 17 when he finished high school and he is turning 21. He’s playing against older and stronger players and doing well. With the glut in d projects the Oilers will need to either trade him or a few others in the system before he signs on.

  • JSR

    HIs dad is pretty sharp guy, and seems like the kid is no different, no way they would want to come to this circus. I dont blame them. Heck there isnt even a decent coach to guide a player, unless you think Smith is a genius.

    Organization is so bad that Lowe didnt even want his kid signing with the Oilers.

    • pkam

      If Lowe didn’t want his kid signing with the Oilers, it is not because of the team but the fans.

      And Keegan doesn’t need to listen to Kevin to know he better goes somewhere else. He knows very well how he was hated even being an OilKings.

      He is smart enough to ask Kevin not to pick him. He knows he will not be appreciated like he will be anywhere else. If he was drafted by the Oilers, he will be trashed by the Oilers fans that he wouldn’t got drafted by any team, only the Oilers would take him because of his father.

      Then comes a spin like yours to trash the team. How sad that our team have fans like that.

        • geeker99

          while I agree in the nation it is a very poisonous atmosphere, I think at rexall there is not enough passion from fans for change. full barn every night and everything is “cool”. bothers me that a fan throws a shirt and he has quit on the club. Hey Dallas you have been here 5 months, we have been living this for 7-8 years. REMEMBER THAT!

          • geeker99

            hey, fans are allowed to quit on the team for putting up with it for that long. However, the fan who did throw the second jersey on the ice, didnt quit on the team, hes a smart ass looking for attention. If someone really quit on the team they wouldnt pay the money to go to rexall in the first place. Eakins has every right to call that fan out cause that fan isnt a fan at all.

          • geeker99

            I agree sending a message is basically ignoring this team. i also feel that sending a message in your home barn which sounds like its forbidden is not right. season ticket holders that are a bit reluctant about throwing in the towel is understandable. the shirt throw gained attention and I know it didn’t do much it did in my eyes.

            This team is full of wicked circles and thats what makes it sooo frustrating, it will make watching a winning team so sweet. If Katz was in a press box watching this season instead of hiding in Van in his mansion would go a long way with this fan.

      • Zarny

        It was neither the team nor the fans.

        It was simply to avoid the obvious appearance of nepotism.

        It was a huge concern for Acton Sr. and he’s only an assistant coach. For the GM you simply can’t do it. Doesn’t matter how good Keegan is, or the team or what the fans are like.

      • Truth

        IIRC Keegan asked his dad to pass over him if he was available when the Oilers selected. Nothing to do with the Oilers or the city. All to do with making the NHL on his own merit, or at least to prevent any allegations of being favorited after being drafted.

        • pkam

          I am aware of that and I am sure most Oilers fans are too.

          If you know the hate towards Keegan from some Edmonton fans, I don’t blame Keegan. If I was him, I wouldn’t want anything to do with the Oilers.

          And then a fan spin this to trash the Oilers. How sad.

      • Sal-Sational

        Appreciate the comment.
        Whenn I made the remark about Lowe not wanting to sign his own kid…. I had my tongue in my cheek.. relax., but not so much about the team being a circus. Will have the worst record in franchise history.. and Thats a fact.. you can color it up and Koolade it anyway you like.

        This has been a terrible rebuild.

        • pkam

          Is this a terrible rebuild? Why not compare it to the Pens rebuild so have a better perspective.

          The Pens started drafting top 5 in 2002. they drafter Whitney 5th overall in 2002, MAF 1st overall in 2003, Malkin 2nd overall in 2004, Crosby 1st overall in 2005, then Jordan Staal 2nd overall in 2006.

          Before 2002 when they started their rebuild, they were making playoff 11 seasons in a row from 1990-91 to 2000-01.

          The Oilers had missed the playoff 4 seasons in a row and was at the worst before the rebuild. So the Pens had a better team than the Oilers had before they started their rebuild.

          The had drafted the 2 best NHL players Crosby and Malkin (even Malkin was drafted 2nd overall). Although we had 3 1st overall, none of them are in the same caliber of Crosby and Malkin.

          After they drafted 4 years in a row which included Crosby and Malkin, they still finished 2nd last in their 5th year and drafted Staal.

          In summary, we started our rebuild with a worse team. Although we drafted 3 1st overall, but we drafted in relative weak draft year while the Pens drafted in the strongest draft year.

          This is our 5th year of our rebuild. The Pens finished 29th in their 5th years with Crosby and Malkin. If our rebuild is terrible, how do you describe their rebuild?

        • pkam

          Lowe is not a capable management staff, but he is undoubtedly the biggest Oilers fan, bigger than anyone on this site.

          Even if you want to be sarcastic, there should be a line and imo your comment has crossed the line.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    @D-Unit….you may be right, i remember hearing the same thing, only Simpson had concerns about ever making the Oilers because there were going to be so many d-men NHL ready around the same time and he may get lost in the numbers game.

  • O.C.

    Chicago black hawks:from picks 1998 to 2009
    Veersteeg, Sharp,Ladd, Kieth, Burish, Seabrook, Crawford, Byfuglien, Bollan, Bickell, Brouwer, Hjarlmasson, Toews,Kane, Kruger.

    15 players

    There seasons 1997-98 to 2008-2009

    97-98 .445 out of playoffs

    98-99 .427 out of playoffs

    99-00 .476 out of playoffs

    00-01 .433 out of playoffs

    01-02 .585 out in round 1

    02-03 .482 out of playoffs

    03-04 .360 out of playoffs

    05-06 .396 out of playoffs

    06-07 .433 out of playoffs

    07-08 .537 out of playoffs

    08-09 .634 lost in Conf final

    Sign Ufa’s Hossa, Campbell, Sopel, Kopecky, Madden, Niemi
    09-10 win cup.

    I am tired of the Chicago is an instant cup builder.
    12 years.
    10 years of Suck!

    Our base from pre Katz
    Hemsky UFA
    Petry RFA

    10 years of terrible asset building under lowe/sather

    Katz took over in 2008:
    This is Katz assets contract/rights next year

    Ference-J. Schultz


    Pre katz

    • O.C.

      So what is your point?

      We don’t have (nor have ever drafted)any player that is anywhere near a Veersteeg, Sharp, Kieth, Seabrook, Crawford, Byfuglien, Bollan, Bickell, Brouwer, Hjarlmasson.

      I know you think those players (of similar skill) are in our lineup right, no they are not.

      Chicago drafted two all time greats in Toews, Kane. Who are our greats?

      Hall and Hopkins are very good players but not great players.

      Lastly what top tier UFA would come to Edmonton at this point, riddle me that…

      We need to build a proper team like they have done all over the Western Conference; a team that can get into the playoffs- at the very least.

      The script for success in the NHL has been written, we need to embrace that script with our own mix of players, not reject it or think we can turn back the clock.

  • Truth

    I believe it is in Simpson’s best interest to sign with the Oilers. Yes, there are a lot of defensive prospects, and yes some of them are highly regarded, but the Oilers NHL defense roster is the worst in the league. He has to beat out other prospects to make the NHL team, not actual NHL players.

    If this was last year I would mention the bright future that the Oilers have and that being another reason for Simpson to sign here, but I’m not so sure of that being reality. They need to add multiple hard-to-acquire pieces or for a few of their prospects to pan out like they did in the 80’s with Messier and Coffey.