BLUE ON BLUE

Klefbom ferguson

The tipping point: the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. Ladies, we’re there.

In the first season of Oil Change, an episode that discusses the 2010 entry draft involves a heated conversation between Stu MacGregor and his scouts. They are discussing selection No. 31, and the scouts around the room are pushing for Tyler Pitlick, while MacGregor is making the argument that this team needs defensive prospects.

As it turned out, the club accomplished both things during that second round, drafting Pitlick No. 31 and acquiring a pick that they used on Martin Marincin. On that day, their ‘bubbling under’ list of defensive prospects looked like this:

  1. Jeff Petry
  2. Theo Peckham
  3. Alex Plante
  4. Johan Motin
  5. Taylor Chorney
  6. Troy Hesketh
  7. Kyle Bigos

The proof is here

In 2010, the club added Marincin, Jeremie Blain and Brandon Davidson. The following seasons? Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat, Erik Gustafsson, Joey Laleggia, Darnell Nurse and Ben Betker. MacGregor recognized the need (that’s a horrible prospect list) and the club went about the business of improving defensive depth.

These are not NHL-ready kids, I’d argue Edmonton would be wise to plan on only Marincin to start the coming season with the big team (if Klefbom and Nurse can change their minds, fine). However, let’s see where these young men are:

  1. Marincin—over half a season in the NHL, he may not go back to AHL.
  2. Klefbom—made NHL debut, he’s very close, perhaps half a season in OKC.
  3. Nurse—in no man’s land because of the CHL rule, he’s got a chance.
  4. Davidson—Inconsistent season, but building his resume.
  5. Musil—Solid AHL debut, improved prospect outlook after OKC season.
  6. Gernat—plenty of work to do, but a Marincin comparable in skill terms.
  7. Simpson—graduated college, has a nice resume.
  8. Laleggia—one more offensive season in college.
  9. Betker—impressive junior season has him tracking well.

That’s a much better list than the day MacGregor and his scouts argued Pitlick v. Marincin. 

davidson ferguson

THE HOCKEY NEWS

In an article published today in the Hockey News, Matt Larkin suggests the Oilers should trade down from No. 3 overall. 

  • Edmonton sends Toronto the No. 3 pick, which the Leafs covet, for the
    No. 8 pick and Jake Gardiner. The Oilers pick Fleury. Suddenly, a
    horrible defensive team can build around Nurse, Fleury, Justin Schultz
    (reunited with best buddy Gardiner), Oscar Klefbom, and Martin Marincin,
    with veteran support from Andrew Ference, Jeff Petry and maybe Nikita Nikitin.

I think Larkin’s thought process is sound for the trade (don’t know if Toronto does it, mind), save for the selection of Haydn Fleury with the No. 8 overall pick.

WHY?

The needs have changed, and NOW the Oilers need help at center. Craig MacTavish addressed up the middle last season in terms of the draft by plucking Darnell Nurse, Greg Chase Bogdan Yakimov and others, but there’s much work to do. The need at center today is far greater than the need at defense.

  1. Greg Chase—brilliant junior season.
  2. Bogdan Yakimov—impressive Russian results on 10 minutes a night.
  3. Mark Arcobello—knocking very hard on that NHL door.
  4. Jujhar Khaira—Turned heads in an AHL cup of coffee.
  5. Travis Ewanyk—rugged center coming off rookie pro season.

The Oilers need to shore up the center position this summer. 

ewanyk ferguson

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Trading down doesn’t make sense when there’s a perfect fit available. Edmonton will get to choose from two of Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl at No. 3 overall. Trading down and taking Haydn Fleury—while also adding Jake Gardiner—adds tremendously to the blue.

However, the new ‘our blueline sucks!” is “good lord we have no centermen” this year. Stu MacGregor knows it, his scouts know it and Craig MacTavish knows it.

It’s going to be Ekblad (you can’t pass on him if available) or a center.

(Klefbom/Musil, Davidson and Ewanyk photos via Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

    • Lowetide

      Having said that, he closely fits MacT’s description of what they need (a puck mover to help Schultz) and Toronto is apparently very interested in moving up.

      • A-Mc

        They already have Petry and JSchultz for puck movement.

        If MacT is looking for more, i wonder if that means they’ve flipped on either Petry/Schultz in terms of what they expect from him.

      • bazmagoo

        I’d be totally down for the proposed Leafs deal if it was on the table, however I wouldn’t draft Haydn Fleury I’d use the pick on a centerman if possible. We’d got a glut of defense prospects, center is a pretty glaring weakness right now in terms of our prospect pool.

        • pkam

          Which centre will be available at #8? Does it justify to trade Bennett or Draisaitl for Gardiner and that centre at #8? I don’t see adding Gardiner to our blueline outweigh getting a more guaranteed top 2 centre.

      • True, IMO schulz and Gardiner are just too similar players. Puck moving ability is great, but there needs to be some diversity in d pairings. If those two were together I feel they would get lit up alot.

    • A-Mc

      I follow Hope_Smoke on twitter, and the feed is a constant Leafs chatter about what they think is going on. They literally have Sports banter ALL DAY EVERY DAY regarding leafs rumors. And the banter isn’t from no names; its from tsn/sportsnet/cbc people you know. If your Dregor, you spend 60% of your time BullSh!ting about the Leafs, and the other 40% of your time covering every other team.

      There are trade rumors abound for any one of: Kadri, Bolland, Gardiner, or Phaneuf; Phaneuf/Kadri rumors being the most frequent.

      Long story short: there is lots of fluff coming out of Leafs Media

  • bazmagoo

    Hoping MacT is able to get Nikitin signed to a deal, that’d be a decent pickup if we can pull it off. 3rd pairing type guy, maybe 2nd pairing at best, but considering our best left sided defenceman right now is Marincin I’d say we can’t go wrong with adding some experience on that side. Letting Klefbom & Nurse mature without having to rush them into the NHL would be a step in the right direction.

  • I was ready to rage until reading the What Does it all mean? section. The less people filling MacT’s head with ideas of trading down, the better. Unless you actually obviously address the need with that #3 pick, and long term, don’t move it.

  • Sevenseven

    Nikitin was Belovs linemate. I hope Mac t made a phone call to nikitins agent. Belov could be telling him Eakins isnt a coach you want to work for. I hope he signs here. Bottom six guy with size and potential offensive upside.

    Nikitin>Fraser

  • It would depend on what my scouts thought about that 8th spot, and it would also be nice to know what Gardiner is looking for in terms of dollars/term for his new contract. I would definitely consider that deal. Gardiner is valuable, and it is still possible to grab value at #8.

    Curtis Lazar, for example, was drafted at #17, and while he hasn’t played an NHL game yet, I’m pretty sure Gardiner + Lazar > Draisaitl.

    There is potential to win or lose that trade.

    I can guarantee there will be an NHL center in this draft that is not picked in the top 7; to win this trade the scouts just need to find him.

    Tough call.

    • Joy S. Lee

      They would be nuts to deal Klefbom now. I wish you guys would stop trying to shop him, just as he’s on the verge, because he’s going to be an impact guy in multiple ways, and sooner rather than later.

  • Craig1981

    If Florida passes on Ekblad, does Yak get us the 2nd pick so we get Ekblad and a centerman? Would Buffalo have any intrest in a high scoring winger?

    I’m not a guy proposing an EAsports NHL15 trade, I am just wondering if something could be there?

      • Craig1981

        True, but under the assumption Florida knows what they are doing (insert joke here) the top center will be gone. Grigorenko is in there system and with FIVE picks in the first 35 (assuming standings were repeated) getting a world class scoring prospect NOW for a team that was 6 goals away from being the lowest scoring team since 1936, could be interesting.

        edit: I think there is a VERY good chance Buffalo gets Jack Eichel or McDavid next year for their top center.

      • Dockstaff

        I like Hodgson over Reinhart/Draisatl, at least you know what you get with Hodgson. Draft picks are a gamble. Is Hodgson the answer to our woes? NO! But it’s a step; at least Cody is a ligit #2C right now and not three to four years from now.

    • Joy S. Lee

      You got trashed a lot for this, but there’s potential do-ability for both sides in that offer. I wouldn’t deal Yakupov just yet, though, either, but I would at least understand a deal like this. Looks like most wouldn’t, though.

  • That need for a centre is why I don’t see the Oilers moving up or down at the draft. It would have to take a good sized overpay by the other party for Edmonton to move down.

    The list of forwards, and in particular centres, bubbling underneath is nowhere near as impressive as the blueline.

  • I read somewhere (might have been a recent Virtanen blog over at canucks nation) that the hitmen had a really lucky PDO this season. Do you credit any of Chase’s strong draft+1 season to that? Do you think he’ll have a near 100pt season next year or do you think their luck will regress and he’ll have a similar season to this past season statistically?

  • A-Mc

    Well, if the hometown boy can win the King Clancy award, then perhaps Edmonton isn’t such a bad place for a player any longer. New arena and downtown entertainment area, great shopping (no sales tax) instant super-stardom, long contracts, great salary, and a gazillion fans just hungry for something positive – c’mon UFAs – give Edmonton a chance, you never know, you just might be very pleasantly surprised.

  • A-Mc

    I’m waiting for a collection of UFA’s to take pity on the Oilers and all decide to join up collectively to make a big impact.

    If i had already won a cup, have a decent amount of chump change in the bank, and had little else to play for: i would try to orchestrate something exactly like i just said.

    call up my buddies around the league and try to pull off a team stack. The publicity would be enormous and the fans would name their first borns after you.

    T’WOULD BE A WET DREAM OF ORGASMIC PROPORTIONS!!

    *sigh* as an oiler fan, all i have left are my silly fantasies..

  • WeridAl

    Jujhar Khaira had a good game with the Barons, but after that seemed to get lost. Davidson had a solid 2nd half of the season, in fact could be said he was the Barons best D at the end. Had a bad start, but so did a lot of Barons, to say he was inconsistent would suggest someone didn’t do his homework again. Pipe dream to think Nurse has a chance this season. Has the skill, but his D and lack of bulk is lacking. Irresponsible IMO to tell people he has a chance next season, especially with the makeup of the Oilers D. Really like what I saw of Greg Chase, but since he was born on Jan 1st he’s heading back to Calgary. Gernat is that unknown, not sure. Has the offensive skill and carries the puck well, but his inconsistent play often made him a healthy scratch. Big Musil is a very smart rugged stay at home D with good passing skills, skating needs work but not a issue. Travis Ewanyk improved as the season went on, thought Nelson asked him to be the goon to often, although teams kept their heads up with Ewanyk and Kessy on the ice. Not much to say about Simpson other than he has great hockey sense, other than that, not much there the Oilers would be looking for.

  • ubermiguel

    Good lord, we had no centremen at this time last year either! Injuries meant we even had Smyth at that position for a few games I think. Problem is if we draft a centre at the #3 spot, we still don’t have an NHL centre for a couple of years. It’s great to have some prospects to look forward to but where’s the help for this season?

    And if we make that deal for Gardiner we’ve got another 23 year old on the blueline. We need some older guys to eat hard minutes so we don’t have to watch every defenceman learn the NHL game at the same time.

    Now a deal with the Leafs to move down and we get one of their young centres (Kadri or Bolland would be fine), that I can get behind. Or put a package together and include Phaneuf. That’s a bold move that instantly makes the Oilers much better.

  • The Last Big Bear

    As much as i was fixated on Ekblad, now a centreman sew=ems way more practical. I think its ridiculous to consider trading down. Its about quality not quantity. The only player that has my attention around 8 is Jake Virtanen. Kind of reminds me of a Vorocek type power forward. But we are pretty solid with top 6 wingers. I also think the oilers should strongly go after a guy like bickell. big power forward. We could try to make a deal to take some of chicagos cap so they can comfortably resign teows and kane….Just some of my thoughts

  • The Last Big Bear

    The Oilers really need an NHL-veteran shutdown defender.

    Maybe they could pick someone up in exchange for a goalie prospect and the rights to Roman Horak…

    • Quicksilver ballet

      You laughed it up last yr like that as well.

      Just before MacTavish gave up a prospect (Paajarvi) and a second for Perron.

      Careful you don’t stray too far from the rest of the herd there The Last Big Sheep.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Remember this when thinking of trying to move up.

    Buffalo has NYIs conditional 1st Rd pick in either this yrs OR NEXT yrs (McDavid) draft. NYI choice. (Vanek deal)

    I see Buffalo picking 2 AND 5 this year.

  • Bucknuck

    I kinda hope they pick Bennett. He has grit, which is something the other top picks lack. You can’t train grit, but you can add strength (hello pullups). He gets compared to doug Gilmour, who is as much a blue collar hero as Smyth is. I don’t think I could ignore that.

  • Craig1981

    Always gotta love it when a “Toronto” based reporter suggests a deal that is great for the Maple Leafs and Ho hum for the other team.

    Oilers are “strong” in Defensive prospects now. We need Centers. Would they take Ekblad at 3rd if he’s there yes probably because he brings something different the existing prospects bubbling under do not. But the best case scenario is the Oilers take “any” one of the Centers.

  • So basically if Toronto wants to move up with giving up Gardiner and 8th for the 3rd. Which I can’t see happening…

    But it breaks down to Gardiner and (Nylander or Virtanen or Ehlers) for Bennett or Draisaitl??
    Hmm… you know that’s not too bad. Doesn’t help in the center spot unless Nylander can do it but 5 years from now that trade might look pretty damn good.

  • Spoils

    Pick Ekblad or trade down for Hayden this year BECAUSE D TAKES LONGER.

    Let’s review the last few teams to win Stanley:

    Doughty
    Keith
    Chara

    not sure any of our guys are that good, but the Vancouver Canucks style of having 5 strong D makes up for it.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    There are three excellent centers available and we pick third.How can this go wrong? I like all 3.

    Im of the opinion that when its close…take the center every single time,every single year.You cant have too many.