What the Oilers have/What the Oilers Need: Defence & Goaltending

This is the second part in a series we started yesterday. We looked at the forward roster then, attempting to identify keepers for next season and roles that needed to be filled. We do the same today, but this time focusing on defence and goaltending.

The Blue Line

The options:

  • Anton Belov
  • Taylor Fedun
  • Andrew Ference
  • Mark Fraser
  • Oscar Klefbom
  • Martin Marincin
  • Darnell Nurse
  • Jeff Petry
  • Corey Potter
  • Justin Schultz
  • Nick Schultz

The problem here is that the Oilers really don’t have anybody on the team who should be playing above the No. 3 slot on an NHL team.

There are some keepers, though. On the right side, Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz are both legitimate NHL defencemen; on the left side Andrew Ference was a No. 4 in Boston before signing with Edmonton. To that group we should likely add Martin Marincin, who has been unexpectedly good since being recalled from the AHL. Ideally, that quartet would furnish the Oilers with their bottom-four group, but that’s likely impossible given the lack of top-end defencemen available either via trade or free agency.

Assuming that those four players mentioned above will need to fill four of the top-five slots on the Oilers’ blue line and an external addition will take the other, that leaves the six/seven slots open for a mix of current NHL’ers and up-and-coming prospects. From the current group, we can likely cull Nick Schultz (deadline move), Mark Fraser (not good enough) and Corey Potter (a decent No. 6/7 who has had injury problems and is in the downslope of his career).

That leaves four players. Anton Belov has had an up-and-down campaign, in some games looking like the Oilers’ best defender but more recently falling outside the regular rotation. Taylor Fedun is an exceptional No. 1 AHL defenceman and looked good in a cameo, but has a year of waiver exemption remaining despite being an older prospect. Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse are both gifted youngsters, but both play the left side (where Marincin is likely to take the third-pairing role) and there’s no reason they can’t be sent back to the AHL and junior, respectively (though Nurse is likely to get an NHL cameo if he shows well in camp).

It’s a highly fluid situation and could change depending on what happens after the Olympics, but as things stand I’d pencil in Fedun as the No. 7, Klefbom as the first call-up, Nurse in major junior and send Belov down the line. It would be nice if Fedun and Belov both got NHL ice time down the stretch, as keeping Belov in the No. 7 role and bumping Fedun down to the AHL to start next season is another option. Both could be retained, but Edmonton is likely better off adding a veteran right-shooting presence on the starboard side to partner with Marincin.


The options:

  • Ilya Bryzgalov
  • Richard Bachman
  • Ben Scrivens

Both of the Oilers’ current goalies fall into the 1A/1B level presently. Bryzgalov was a successful starter but has had a tough few seasons, while Scrivens has promise as a starter but hasn’t proved anything yet.

Should the Oilers keep one and add a veteran starter via free agency? Possibly, depending on what the market for those guys is; I’d be very tempted to retain Scrivens and add someone like Jaroslav Halak to battle him for playing time rather than spending big money on marquee goalie like Jonas Hiller. There’s nothing wrong with keeping Scrivens and Bryzgalov both, though, and it might allow them to be more aggressive at other positions in free agency if they have a low-cost tandem.

There’s also nothing wrong with Richard Bachman as the third-string goalie.

Completed Roster

As with yesterday’s roster, there is wiggle room here. We’ve mentioned Bryzgalov and Belov as particular examples of players who could be retained in one role or another. Another possibility is that the Oilers can add a top right-side defenceman, which would bump Ference and Marincin up one slot each and move Schultz and Petry down one spot. 

In both this post and yesterday’s post, these "completed rosters" are more flexible guidelines, designed to be adjusted depending on what players are available and what happens down the stretch. But again, this is the basic framework I’d endeavour to execute prior to the trade deadline and then over the summer. 

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Coming out of the trade deadline we need two problem areas that JW
    had identified.

    1) I would use some our experienced rentals to trade with a cup
    contender, to steal an elite non roster prospect.

    2) Play Kleblom, Fedun, Belov and Marincin
    lots down the stretch to see what you have.

    3) Draft 1 of those three centres.

  • DSF

    Mactavish’s single biggest challenge before next season starts is to find that elusive first-pairing Dman. A left-side D in a perfect world because J. Schultz or Petry can play in the top pairing with a legitimate partner.

  • Spoils

    the great irony of the Oilers might be that for all the talk of high flying young offensive talent, the D could steal the show.

    How about this D squad being carved onto the 2017 Stanley Cup:

    PK Subban – Nurse;
    J Schultz – Ekblad;
    Kelfbom – Petry;

    You could insert any proven #1D in place of PK, the idea being that is the bold move the Oilers make.

    What do you have to trade for PK or some other legit #1D?

    Eberle at least… Taylor maybe?

    If Pronger taught me anything, I think it is worth it.

  • DSF

    Check out the post and I was taken back 6 months when the same B.S. was happening.
    Every other post doesn’t need to be either by or a reply to DSF.
    DSF you came back in the ring with some fair observations yesterday and earlier today, now your back to your old games, you really can keep your New Years resolution and add to the conversation instead of making it all about you.
    “Good Grief”.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Why bother addressing the circular rhetoric DSF is spewing? The bottom line for him is that he is always right. Spare yourselves the wasted effort.

    Seriously, he comes on this site and extols the virtues of the Sabres and the Flames.

    I think that says more than enough about his angle.

    • Devolution

      I think i will take a break until NHL hockey fires back up, hopefully it will not be like this weekend.
      Olympic NHL break, a couple new/old posters are back,coincidence I think not, when hockey is back maybe they will need a break.

  • toprightcorner

    I’d try to make a trade for Tuytin, CBJ are deep in defenceman and with Murray playing well he could be available.

    I also think Orpik could be signed as a FA, PIT has a few guys to resign and some young dmen they need to make some room for. Orpik will be a great 2-3 year stop gap until Nurse develops during that time. He also brings winning experience.

    That could give you

    Tuytin – Petry
    Orpik – Schultz
    Ference – Marincin

    Goaltenders, I am happy with Scrivens in a tandem with Bryz or anyone else who has the ability to play as many as 40 games if needed. A much improved defence will help improve goaltending on its own.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    How can you say Mark Fraser is not good enough you moron! He has been SUPER STEADY! Wait until he drops the gloves, as J. Schultz is running away to hide under Eberle’s skirt, and then tell me he’s not good enough! SERIOUSLY!!!!

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Except for skill, skating, stickhandling, vision, and general passing ability, Fraser is all world!

      Yea I like his toughness but the man is incapable of handling the puck. He will come in handy every so often when we play a big team.

  • toprightcorner

    I think we can safely assume that Gagner can be replaced by Bennette or Reinheart. One Sam for either of the other. Thus a combo of, Gagner, plus Gernat (prospect), Nick Shultz, Hemmer for a LD. A great target in my eyes would be Josi from the Preds. I wonder what that would cost.

  • S cottV

    Pulling it all together is the obvious challenge, where the goaltenders, defence and forwards are all reasonably positioned to contend.

    The organization probably needs to prove itself some more, before guys with no trade clauses and ufa’s consider playing here. Katz and Oiler fans pay a price in this regard, for being perceived as anything less than an organization of excellence from top to bottom.

    If in short order – MacT could pull of an unquestioned 1G, 1 or 2D, 3 or 4D, and 2C through trades or ufa’s, go for it, but somehow I don’t see it happening.

    To spend big money on one or two of the above parts, without a reasonable chance to quickly gain the remainder, is probably a waste of money.

    I would think MacT needs to buy reasonably priced goaltending from Scrivens and or Bryz, for 2 years. Either would be available for somewhat less money than an unquestioned ufa 1G. Scrivens looks like – at minimum, a solid backup and maybe MacT will have to give him 3 years, to keep him from walking.

    Take Ekblad if available and Bennett if not. Don’t need a copy of RNH in 2C.

    While risky, under the circumstances maybe you have to try and fast track Nurse and Ekblad, if no trades or ufa’s come through. Maybe they surprise and develop very quickly – Seth Jones like.

    If things start looking progressively better, in 2 or 3 years – it would be time to really make whatever major moves that would pull it all together. UFA’s and no trades might see an opportunity and all (including RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yak, Schultz etc) might be considered in trades to find the contention balance between goal, defence and forwards.

    Unfortunately – it will probably take another 3 years to steadily rebuild from the present @ssbackwards position.

  • I think Roman Josi would be a very nice addition if MacT isn’t able to grab a true 1D. He plays 25 minutes a night in Nashville and is a very good puck moving D. He can play top pairing minutes and has a lot of potential.
    Add him and a big veteran guy for the second pairing.

    Josi – J. Schultz
    x – Marincin
    Petry – Ference

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        I don’t know, maybe what the oilers have and what the oilers need:defense and goaltending.

        Ufa targets(34+ mil in cap space), trade targets(gagner), lottery picks….

        Why compare the two worst teams forward and defense prospects, both teams suck and need lots of improvement.

        That improvement is not coming from prospects.

        Reinhert, Hodgson

        Reinhert, Hopkins

        Ekblad, Myers, Erhoff, Ristolainen, Zadorav

        Ekblad, Nurse, Shultz, Marincin, Petry

        As long as both these teams finish bottom two they will improve one of their weaknesses.

        • DSF

          Reinhart – Hodgson- Grigerenko – Ennis – Girgensons – Konopka

          Reinhart – Hopkins – Gordon – Arcobello – Acton?

          Ekblad – Ehrhoff – Meyers – Ristolainen – Zadorov – McNabb – Pysyk

          Ekblad – Schultz – Nurse – Marincin – Petry – Klefbom?

          It’s all about depth.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Well both teams will have 30+ million in cap space this offseason, so depth will be baught this offseason.

            Your not even making sense anymore. And after Gordan its Hendricks, and Lander(who’s having an awesome season in okc as captain averaging over a point per game)

          • DSF

            Yeah, forgot about Hendricks but he’s just a Konopka equivalent.

            As for Lander, Buffalo has C Luke Adam in the AHL who has 34 points in 32 games.

            Cap Geek has the Oilers with a projected $33M in free cap space and Buffalo at $43M BEFORE they buy out Leino’s $4.5M contract.

            The difference between $33M and $48Ms buy you some pretty nice players.

          • dougtheslug

            DSF’s new obsession with Buffalo’s “depth” is flat out weird bordering on creepy. It lends credence to the theory that DSF is really Wanye in disguise, trolling to increase traffic on ON.

            My advice is to back slowly away from the computer and find something more productive to do than argue with DSF. I know I have a sock drawer that needs sorting.

  • Fuhr4Life

    I have a feeling our Oilers are going to have a great second half of the season moving up 2-3 spots in the conference by the end which means not having a Top 3 pick not like 6-10 pick. I would definitely trade our 1st 2014 rounder if it can help land a legit #1 D-man. Scrivens is definitely going to sign, the Oul were his team growing up and he’s always wanted to play here, he has #1 G potential and only 27. We also need a 2 way power forward badly, how set you think the Bruins are on Iggy? Wouldn’t take too much to get him and kills 4 birds 1.Top 6 Power forward winger 2. 2-Way play 3. Loads of Experience 4. Leadership galore (and from Edmonton!).

    I’d say Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Yak , J.Shultz, Nurse are untouchable and trade any and everyone one else, picks, prospects veterans. Even if we can get a Brad Stuart type top 4 D, Iginla ish veteran 2 way power forward, 2nd line C (Stastny?) we can always try for Markov and Macdonald in free agency. So please let’s stop with the trading Ebs talk already, its a horrible idea.. he’s our Glen Anderson ie. will be scoring the clutch goals when we are in the playoffs! Next year J.Shultz will be a monster and the young guns will be unstoppable too, I like think positive hehe.