David Musil: On Track

These days it’s fashionable to hammer on David Musil as a prospect, and it’s easy to understand why. There were a lot of good players available in the second round of the 2011 Draft – among others, Tomas Jurco in Detroit, Boone Jenner in Columbus, Brandon Saad in Chicago.

But there needs to be a line drawn between the scouting process – identifying the best player at that draft position – and the player himself. David Musil’s a pretty good prospect, and his rookie season in Oklahoma City leaves lots of reason for optimism.

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The 2011 Defencemen

Rk. Player NHL GP
4 Adam Larsson 128
9 Dougie Hamilton 106
10 Jonas Brodin 124
11 Duncan Siemens
12 Ryan Murphy 52
14 Jamie Oleksiak 23
17 Nathan Beaulieu 23
19 Oscar Klefbom 17
20 Connor Murphy 30
23 Joe Morrow
25 Stuart Percy
31 David Musil
34 Scott Mayfield 5
36 Adam Clendening
46 Joel Edmundson
48 Xavier Ouellet 4
54 Scott Harrington
55 Ryan Sproul 1
57 Tyler Wotherspoon 14
59 Rasmus Bengtsson

20 defencemen were selected in the first two rounds of 2011, and the NHL games played totals pretty much tell the story here. Only three of them have had extensive minutes in the majors, and one of those – Adam Larsson in New Jersey – finished the year in the AHL.

The top-10 picks are establishing themselves, the next 10 are getting their feet wet, and everybody after that is still more-or-less finding their way.

Musil isn’t leading the charge, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. His post-draft progress (two years in junior, one year entirely in the AHL) is entirely reasonable for a pick in this range, and especially so for a defensive defenceman.

The Coach

Todd Nelson

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It comes down to foot speed with David. He knows that, everybody else knows that. I have to tell you, I like the way he battles in the corners; he’s definitely strong enough to play up there. What impressed me about him is that he makes better decisions with the puck than I thought he had in him. He’s able to try and make the right play; it’s a matter of execution because of skill level, that’s a different matter, but if he keeps a simple game… it’s his footspeed. With David it’s a matter of being able to handle a guy like Phil Kessel coming down the wing. We’ve seen guys in the NHL in the past that weren’t overly quick; for David that’s something where hopefully he matures and gets quicker as he gets older, but he’s a guy I could see playing some games next year.

The quote above comes courtesy of Todd Nelson, and it frames the issue nicely I think.

Speed comes up every time Musil’s name is mentioned, and it’s a valid concern. It doesn’t mean we need to write the player off.

Looking at Oilers from the recent past, it’s true that Alex Plante had speed issues. So did Matt Greene. So did Sheldon Souray. That’s a pretty big range of possible outcomes.

So we look at the other things Nelson said.

Nelson says that Musil has NHL strength right now. He brings size (6’3”, 200 pounds) and his dad ended up playing at around 215 pounds, which seems like a pretty reasonable place to expect the son to end up, so there’s probably more of that to come and that’s an awfully nice quality to have in front of the net.

He’s also smart. Nelson’s quote suggests a certain amount of initial surprise at Musil’s ability with the puck. Musil isn’t a dynamic playmaker, but he’s not Mark Fraser either; he doesn’t treat the puck like a grenade and he can make a pass. It’s also telling that Musil spent most of the year on the right side as a left-handed shot and can play either; that’s a useful talent to have and says something about the player’s intelligence.

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Musil likely isn’t going to end up as a high-range defenceman; typically those players need to be highly mobile and bring more offence to the table than Musil does. But plenty of NHL teams have found room for big, strong, smart defenceman; as Oilers fans know some teams have even settled for just big and strong.

So it’s fine to look back at the draft and covet Boone Jenner, and it’s fine to point out that Musil hasn’t made it yet. But it’s important not to lose track of the fact that he brings some things NHL teams like, and more importantly that he adjusted nicely to the professional game with a successful OKC debut.


  • WeridAl

    One of your better pieces. Musil will not be a top 4 D,(maybe in a pinch) but he will be a very solid 3rd D that keeps the opposition heads up and is not one to be pushed around. Some question his skating, but that has improved quite a bit to a point I wouldn’t say that is a issue. Kelfbom and Musil played well together, was questionable some games who was better defensively. Musil does have that mean streak when needed and is not afraid to drop the gloves. Towards the end of last season his game had improved so much that he was leading some rushes. He does have a hard heavy shot when he uses it. Note when they refer to Musil, they refer to him as BIG MUSIL in OKC. The Oilers are missing that big tough stay at home D, and Musil is that, plus with a good break out pass. He will surprise some people in a year or 2.

      • I would have to think that the depth chart may look like this next year in OKC.

        what if Fedun re-signs? you may want to swap Simpson for Musil but that’s why training camps are held.

        • Well, for starters Darnell Nurse can’t play in the AHL next season. And Oscar Klefbom (who was drafted ahead of Musil in the same year) has always been ahead of him on the organizational depth chart. Ditto for the much older Fedun, who may not even return.

          Simpson certainly may pass Musil, but he hasn’t played a professional game yet.

          It seems awfully early to me to say that Musil’s getting passed by guys.

        • WeridAl

          Nurse cannot play in the AHL this year, and from what I saw of his play with the Barons, he’s not close to being ready. Another year in the OHL and maybe a year or 2 with the Barons. Dillon Simpson good bet he’ll end up with the ECHL Condors. They question Musils foot speed, Simpson is worse and he doesn’t bring anything the Oilers desperately need in a D. He’s a poor man’s Nick Schultz, non-physical, no shot, poor lateral movement. It is debatable but right now Brandon Davidson is the D I would be watching out for. His game took a giant step in 2nd half of the season. Was the best all around D most nights in the 2nd half. Has a complete game, and he just continues to improve. Kicker is Gernat, if this kid put on some muscle and improved his D game he could be a force to be reckoned. Some nights he shows flashes of potential, than another he stinks the joint up. OKC is loaded with D potential some teams would give up their right arm for. Just have to listen to the opposing teams play by play people and they love what they see. Too bad some Oiler fans & media cannot see that.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Good on Musil.
    Unfortunately, Oilers are currently in need of well-rounded top-pairing dmen at this time (then again, who isn’t?). A player like Musil would be a nice throw-in in a 2 or 3 for 1 deal.

  • I watched exactly 4 OKC games all against the Abby Heat this last season. My impression in that small sample size was that he stood out.. and not in a good way. I hate to say it but from what i saw I don’t see him getting beyond the AHL. Waaaaay waaaay too slow. I didn’t make a point of watching him but I couldn’t help it because every time a player blew by an OKC d Man i looked to see who it was and it was Musil 90% of the time. Maybe worth a shot drafting him but I believe this was a swing and a miss by Stu.

  • Boone Jenner was an amateur scouting GAFF blown by this organization!!

    Bloody tragedy!!

    Getting Hopkins then drafting Klefbom , the next pick if things are close should have been Jenner not Musil, this pick kills.

    This is where loyalty amoung other things skewed the process.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      don’t forget the Oilers also missed the boat on a potential #1 goalie in John Gibson, good scoring wingers like Rattie, Saad, Jurco and Jaskin as well as a tougher and likely faster d-man in Scott Mayfield. I wasn’t crazy about this pick at this spot, but what’s done is done.

      • True enough.

        Having said that though, the Oilers needed both defensemen and center depth.

        The way a defensemen develops and as a center develops one has to think that Jenner heads up with Musil has to come out on top 8 out of 10 times.

    • bazmagoo

      Musil is another example of organizational nepotism. We’ll never be a competitive team when you make decisions this way. I don’t disagree with the piece, David has every opportunity to make the show. But the organizational need was pretty obviously size up the middle and they chose to pick Musil because his father is a scout for the team and has connections to the old guard. A TamboLowenie blunder IMO

      • pkam

        In 2011, the Oilers had needs everywhere, centres, wings, defense, goalie. Actually, we probably had more need in defense than centre at that moment as we had Gagner in our roster, we just drafted Pitlick in 2010 and RNH 1st overall in 2011.

        And if I remember correctly, Musil was ranked mid 2nd round by most scouting report so it is not totally out to lunch. At least we drafted Klefbom 19th overall instead of Musil.

        In 2012, the Oilers also drafted a mid 2nd rounder Mitchell Moroz with their 32nd overall. Is it also a result of nepotism?

  • Musil is one of those “another bullet in the chamber” type defencemen.

    He’s a decent prospect with a decent chance of becoming a decent middle of the road defenceman. He’s great to have, but ideally, you want him to be fourth or fifth among your prospect pool at D, with higher end prospects ahead of him.

    I would rate Nurse, Marincin, Klefbom, Simpson, and personally I would put Gernat ahead of him (I think Gernat can be more if he makes it), and obviously Ekblad if they get him, but having a decent pro prospect like Musil as your fifth or sixth best NHL prospect is a really nice situation to have.

    Musil, however, is the kind of prospect you really don’t notice until he’s either in the NHL or flamed out as a NHL prospect and doesn’t get a two-way contract. We are probably at least a couple years from either of those happening.

  • Citizen David

    I’m interested to see where Oesterle slots in this year. I’m thinking that Musil is a big part of the Barons so he’s going to play lots but it might have to be on the right side.

  • WeridAl

    sure, he’ll be a decent 6th D. but, you can usually acquire those thru trade or FA. Just another example, in an extremely long line of examples, of the Oilers passing over what turns out to be a great find. We are never the ones picking the Jenners or the Saads (or the Subbans or Webbers). Its always the other teams that find these guys. If its such a crap shoot, shouldn’t we be rolling a winner once in while? Just once, I’d like it to be us that picks the player that vastly over achieves in comparison to his draft position.

  • Zarny

    The problem for Musil is he plays left-side and is behind Marincin, Klefbom, Nurse and possibly Davidson on the depth chart.

    However, if Musil progresses enough to be a bottom pair D it provides the Oilers an opportunity to move Klefbom, Marincin or Nurse as they mature.