The Choice


There are only so many slots available for young defencemen on an NHL roster, which is why it makes sense to think that only one of Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse will play for the Edmonton Oilers next season.

The Depth Chart


  • Justin Schultz (RFA): 23:26 minutes per game, 120 games of experience
  • Jeff Petry (RFA): 21:36 minutes per game, 234 games of experience
  • Andrew Ference: 21:03 minutes per game, 831 games of experience
  • Martin Marincin: 19:09 minutes per game, 42 games of experience

We can reasonably assume those four names. To that group we can add players from three sources: external additions, holdovers (any of Mark Fraser, Philip Larsen or Anton Belov) and youth.

As it stands, the Oilers will be icing a minimum of three defencemen with less than 250 games of experience, two with less than two full seasons under their belts, and at least one with less than a full season.

I would argue it isn’t at all a good idea for the Oilers to go into next season with five of their top seven below that 250 game mark, four under the two season mark, or three with less than a year’s experience. If Craig MacTavish agrees with me, that sets the cap for fresh rookies at one.

Who Will It Be?


Oscar Klefbom has been a welcome addition to the Oilers’ defence corps. His player type – the big guy who isn’t totally incompetent with the puck – is one that’s been widely reputed to exist but hasn’t been seen in Edmonton for some time. He’s a very good skater, he’s strong enough to win battles in the corners and his puck-moving ability dramatically exceeds his point totals.

He’s rawer than Marincin, but his strength gives him an important edge that his teammate lacks.

Darnell Nurse

Darnell Nurse was assigned to Oklahoma City yesterday, and in a lot of ways his scouting report reads like Klefbom’s. Nurse has far shinier point totals and a reputation for a mean streak that Klefbom lacks, and it’s almost certainly not a stretch to project him as the better player long-term, but the problem for him is readiness. Klefbom’s older and more seasoned, and there’s no real downside in letting Nurse have another year of junior hockey (everything I’ve read and heard says he’s still progressing).

The wild card here is Aaron Ekblad, who might be the Oilers’ first round pick at this summer’s draft. He would figure into this conversation. Also figuring into this discussion are things like how Klefbom closes out the year, what Nurse looks like in the AHL, who gets added over the summer and what happens in training camp.

But right now, assuming no Ekblad, I’d slot Klefbom into the Oilers’ lineup and send Nurse back to junior.


    • Spydyr

      He has been passed over in the depth chart by Klefbom and Marcinin soon to be Nurse and Ekblad if he does indeed get drafted by the Oilers.

      Fedun’s window was the year he got hurt.It does suck to be him.Tough ,tough break literately and figuratively.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Yes, not a lot of D-Men available that would not require an over pay.

    I do see some options

    1) Play the youngsters on D all year, and then when we go 1-9 to start the season, Hall demands a trade, we could easily get a 1D for him. This would also help insure that we lose our honour for Conner

    2) One, if not more of the heavy defensive contenders get badly bounced in the first round because they cannot score enough goals, will be looking at us to get a goal scorer or two and willing to trade top D men(s) to ge it done.

    Frankly, if we are not willing to be in the draft lotto position for the next couple of years, we are going to have to trade someone that the Oil faithful would be loathe to trade

  • 2004Z06

    Oh man tough call. I would like to see Nurse play a few games next year. But realistically nurse and Ekblad/Draisaitl should be back in junior next year. Marincin and Klefbom should be enough rookies (kinda rookies) next year. I have hope for the Oilers. But only in 2-3 years when new rexall is built. Sucks. But after this draft. And maybe next years. The Oilers are set and should compete for a long time. Despite DEakins best attempts at destroying Yak.

    I don’t care what happens next year. I just want to see progress from Yak. Yakupov and Yakimov. Very important forward pieces.

    15/16 bring in Nurse and Ekblad/Drasaitl. Scary good.
    On defence. Let’s see Dillon Simpson late next year.

    So realistically I don’t see the Oilers being good until 16/17 season.

  • MrBig

    Given the depth of Defensive prospects, the Oilers will not rush out to get Ekblad unless he falls in their lap at 3rd overall (which is not likely to happen). They will move out Gagner and bring in Draisatl. I wouldn’t be surprised in Yakupov is moved either, though I don’t want him moved yet…

  • BobbyCanuck

    My guess for the draft for the Oilers first pick. If they pick #4 and these 3 guys are gone I could see them trading down or the pick.

    1. Ekblad
    2. Bennett
    3. Draisaitl

    • 2004Z06

      Why the defenseman? This team has at least some depth on Defense in the system. Ekblad is not going to step in as your number one D in the forseeable future (if at all). By comparison, this organization has ZERO depth at center.

      If you are looking at this years draft to help the team improve today, then you trade the pick for an NHL player.

      If you are looking at the draft to improve organizational depth, then you take the big centerman Draisaitl or Bennett.

      Hell either of them might be able to come in as a 3/4 line guy next year a la Sean Monahan in Calgary.

      I just don’t see why everyone is so eager to draft another D man when we desperately need centermen.

  • BobbyCanuck

    I would lean towards Klefbom. He has at least played some games at this level now. Patience will be best for Nurse in the long run. He has all the talent he needs but it will take time to refine it.

  • Tikkanese

    I would be very happy with Bennett.

    Sam Reinhart had 105 pts in 60 games ONLY 11 minutes in penalties and

    born November 1995

    Sam Bennett 91 pts in 57 games and 118 minutes in penalties and born

    June 1996

    Even strength Reinhart and Bennett are about the same in points

  • Bucknuck

    I love the fact that there are too many young D-men with huge potential.

    I hate the fact that the Oilers D is so thin that they are better than most of the players we have.

    I think one of the kids will be moved as part of a package for a top pairing defenseman. I hate to see any of them go, but you have to give up something to get something, rookie D-men with top four potential are an Oiler ‘strength’.

    One of the top six, plus the kid D-man might be enough to get a true top pairing defender, and that would scoot everyone down the depth chart where they belong.

  • 2004Z06

    The biggest difference between what happened in Vancouver and what has yet to happen in Edmonton is that half the seats in Vancouver were empty and the other half were full of folks chanting “fire Gillis”

    Will never happen here….Too many folks still drunk on the kool-aid!

    Oh and why is it a blog writers job to drive change in the organization? Isn’t that the responsibility of the fanbase? Do you honestly think Lowe would still be POHO if three years ago folks stopped renewing season seats and buying merchandise?

    Be glad these guys take the time to write anything at all that allows you to post your comments, however misguided they may be!

  • Spoils

    Glad we are finally off the ” lets get Weber” deal.

    Sights will have to be lowered, because unless your name is Millbury no team gives up stud DMen at any price, and even those wont come easy to the Oilers.

    What if:

    Schultz = Nisknen
    Petry = Marincin
    Ferance = Klefbom
    Extra = Andre Benoit

    This might buy some time for development of home grown guys.

    Nurse back to Junior
    Simpson AHL,
    Eckbald ain’t coming to Edmonton, That ship will have sailed unless Oilers wint the Lotto.

    Fraser AHL, or where ever.
    Larsen, covert to forward.

    Not bold but an improvement from today.

    PS; Nisknen and Boniot could be sub’d for other mid level D men.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Detroit Model please………..keep these guys in the AHL where we have a real coach that has demonstrated a real ability to develop players.

    Once they have been properly developed then bring up the cream of the crop…….and not one second before! Making Nurse, or Ekblad learn from Eakins is quite frankly sheer madness!

  • Muji

    Trade some of the “potential” defensemen and the first round pick for NHL ready players. Many “potential” players and 1st round draft picks never pan out. Let Nurse, Klefbom and others mature in the minors

    Look at how we were sure that 1st round draft picks Dubnyk, Gagner, Pavarri, Cogaliano, etc would be the answer.

    I am tired of waiting for the future

  • 2004Z06

    The Choice ….

    We need to make some choices on the farm as well.

    How are we developing Gernat and Musil and are we signing Simpson.

    We also have to choose if Nurse will learn ENOUGH with a FOURTH year of junior hockey … he has played more major junior then Klefbom


    can he hang around the Oilers and learn more than the Soo can provide????

  • Britts94

    Re: developing defensemen in Junior. It’s not about if they can learn more in the NHL. It’s more about TOI. In the NHL, most on our list would play 15ish minutes, or forced into roles where their confidence gets devastated by the likes of Getzlaf and other “men”. In Junior Nurse can go play 22+ minutes a night, which in fact IS better for his development than anything. Then he can spend a couple more in the AHL. In 2+ years maybe he’s ready for an NHL job. But slow and steady wins the race with d-men.

    Look at Detroit. They leave guys down in the AHL until they’re absolutely 100% NHL ready. They had to find a way to get Nyquist up this year with cap issues. He comes up and slot in perfectly. I understand Babcock and Eakins are not comparable but the model is a good one. however Eakins and Todd Nelson ARE comparable coaches and there’s not a chance I want “another” AHL coach to come experiment with the Oil.

    Our defensive depth is almost hilarious. Willis has been telling us all year that Fedun should be right there as he’s been the most solid all year in OKC. He played 4 NHL games and scored twice. Now, I understand that it would be unlikely that he could maintain that scoring rate but a smart puck mover who could put in 15 a year while being smart about it SHOULD have a place on this team. We also know damn well he’ll bust his butt out there. All thing being equal though, I agree with Gregor in that we need veteran defensemen here in the interim to fill the spots while the d kids develop. Unfortunately, our forwards have about 3-5 years to peek, which doesn’t match our d. So? Time for MacT to work some magic.

    Lastly. Draft a centre please. I love Ekblad. He’s 4-5 years from a real legit #1 IF he ever will be. Give me size down the middle and someone with Nurse’s grit please.