Oilers prospects: Who, where, why?

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The Oilers prospect cupboard might be as full as it has ever been. They have good depth on the blueline, they finally have some skilled size in the system and, most importantly, they have a few prospects who are NHL ready.

The blueline has the most depth with Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, David, Musil, Martin Gernat, Dillon Simpson and William Lagesson.

Marincin played 44 NHL games last year and didn’t look out of place. He played better in his first 25 games than he did in the final 19, but he showed he is ready to compete for a spot in the opening night roster.

Klefbom played 17 games and he improved with each game. He was cast in a more defensive role and  Dallas Eakins and Steve Smith weren’t afraid to have him start shifts in the D zone. He is also ready to compete for a spot on the 23-man roster, but like Marincin if he isn’t in the starting six, I’d rather see him in OKC than the #7 in the pressbox.

Last week, Rocky Thompson said that of the other D-men who played in OKC last year, Davidson is the next in line for a promotion. He liked his defensive game and expected Davidson to get some PP time this year to show off his offensive talents.

Musil needs to improve his skating. He has a wide stance and because of that he doesn’t have a long stride. He has been working hard to lengthen his stride and get quicker, but until that happens I don’t see him as a regular NHL D-man.

Gernat will get more ice time this year. He has excellent offensive instincts, but his biggest challenge will be putting in the necessary work to become a regular pro hockey player. There is no doubting his talent, but he needs to get stronger and quicker.

Simpson is only 21, and after four years of NCAA adapting to the busier schedule will be his biggest challenge. He will need a few years of seasoning in the AHL, and his year will a good test to see where he fits in the depth chart.

NURSE

That leads us to Darnell Nurse. The 7th overall pick in 2013 is in a unique situation. Due to his age and NHL rules, he can play in the NHL or in junior, but is ineligible to play in the AHL. If he was, it would be  no-brainer that he’d start the season in OKC.

However, since he will be in the Show or back in the Soo, the debate over where he fits best will be a spirited one. Nurse is committed to making the Oilers, as he should be. I wouldn’t want a 1st round pick who didn’t expect to make the team, but he will need to play unbelievably well to stay in Edmonton past nine games.

OHL blogger, Brock Otten writes about top OHL prospects and he wrote this about Nurse yesterday. What caught my eye was this line about Nurse’s development.

I don’t think there’s much more that the OHL can teach him. If he
returns, I think it will be a mistake and the Oilers will risk him
developing some bad habits out of boredom (the way Alex Pietrangelo did
in his 19 year old season).

I completely disagree.

First off, players can always work on things. Nurse has many aspects of his game he can improve on, and from the games I watched he wasn’t a man against boys on every shift. He definitely had great games and some shifts where he dominated, but he would still be challenged this season.

He also would benefit greatly from playing for Canada at the World Juniors. He didn’t make the team last year, so he hasn’t mastered the junior ranks, and he’d be highly motivated to make it this season.

I’m also not sure what bad habits Pietrangelo developed in his final season in the OHL, because he didn’t spend much time in junior.

Pietrangelo only played nine games for the Blues, but he was a healthy scratch often from October to December before they released him to play for Canada at the WJC.

Pietrangelo sat out the opening three games of the season before playing on October 10th. He then sat out the next four games, but returned to the lineup to play the next seven games. He watched from the pressbox for three more, and then played his final game on November 19th. He stayed with the Blues for a few more weeks before they sent him to WJC camp.

Pietrangelo won a silver medal for Canada at the 2010 WJC and he was named best D-man in the tournament. After the tourney was over the Blues assigned him to Niagara in the OHL. The Icedogs quickly traded him to the Barrie Colts.

He played 25 regular season games for the Colts, scoring 9-20-29 in 25 games and then another 17 playoff games.

The following season Pietrangelo was a regular with the Blues and he was their best D-man. He played the most minutes, led them in scoring with 43 points and his possession and quality of competition stats were very good.

I’m not sure what bad habits Otten was referring to, but there is no data that suggests Pietrangelo going back to junior delayed or hampered his development in any fashion.

It is interesting, however, to see how the Blues used him.

He spent two and a half months, including training camp and preseason, with the big club. He practiced with them but played in only 9 of the 25 games that he was there for. Young players can learn from sitting in the pressbox, and despite what some think, it isn’t always a punishment to have them watch the game from upstairs.

The Oilers could conceivably do the exact same thing with Nurse. He could spend two months practicing with the team and playing only nine games. He could go play for Canada at the World Juniors and then spend January to April in junior.

It is very plausible, but I still see Nurse ending up in junior. I see him coming to camp, competing for a job, playing some preseason games and maybe an NHL game or two, but I’d be surprised to see him practicing with the club for two months and only playing nine games.

Jason Strudwick has said many times that the first 20 games of the season are much slower then the final 60, so gauging Nurse’s NHL-readiness through the first quarter of the season can be misleading.

The other challenge for Nurse is that he will need to beat out two other left shooting defenders, Marincin or Klefbom, to crack the lineup. It wouldn’t make much sense to have two of those young guys sitting out every night, so regardless of whether the Oilers keep seven or eight D-men out of training camp, one of Marincin or Klefbom starts the season in the AHL.

Either way, there is no tangible proof that playing another year of junior will hurt his development or see him create bad habits.

PARTING SHOTS

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  • I spoke to Leon Draisaitl over the weekend for my article in the Edmonton Journal. If his on-ice play matches his desire, commitment and determination off the ice Oiler fans will love him. Instead of heading home for the summer, Draisaitl stayed in Edmonton and moved in with former owner (one of the Edmonton Investor Group) Bruce Saville. Very few 18 year old draft picks bypass the comfort of home to live in their new NHL city and train for the upcoming season. Good on him.
  • Draisaitl has yet to sign a contract, but it will happen soon. Here’s a quick look at when the previous top-seven picks signed their deals.

    Taylor Hall signed his first contract on July 5th, 2010.
    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins signed his on July 2nd, 2011.
    Nail Yakupov put ink to paper on July 23rd, 2012.
    Darnell Nurse signed his deal on July 25th, 2013.

  • The Oilers will have some size down the middle in OKC. Bogdan Yakimov and Jujhar Khaira have size and skill. Toss in Mitch Moroz on the wing and the Oilers have a few options coming in a year or two.
  • I’m curious to see how Greg Chase, 7th round pick in 2013, does at the WJC summer camp. Chase has good skills, tallied 35-50-85 in 70 WHL games last year, and he’s an agitator. Last year, Brent Sutter admitted he didn’t have enough skilled grit on the team, so if Chase gets off to a good start with the Hitmen he should have a good shot to make Team Canada.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • Young Oil

    I can see how Nurse would, perhaps not get lazy, but get too used to being physically dominant over all the shrimp in the OHL ocean. Doing stuff you just can’t get away with against grown men.

    In general I feel the CHL and NHL need to re-negotiate their agreement. There are too many instances when a player is steamrolling his way through junior (which isn’t really that good for his development or that of his competitors and teammates), while not being good enough for the NHL.

    Nurse is an obvious example. I’d say Drouin was another, as was Dougie Hamilton. A strong case could be made for Griffin Reinhart.

    • Sorensenator

      The AHL should be an option straight out of junior, there is no reason why an 18 year old can step right into the NHL but not the AHL. It is a developmental flaw that ought to be fixed.

      • Jason Gregor

        I can see why teams would prefer to keep some guys in junior rather than send them to the NHL. Ryan Murphy, for example. The CHL also needs a good base of talented players, but when it comes to physically dominant monsters like Seth Jones, Erik Gudbranson, Nick Ritchie, Anthony Mantha, Jonathan Drouin (not big, but fast!), and arguably this year’s Aaron Ekblad, it seems obvious that they’re waaaay too good for junior – to the point of hurting their own development as well as others – but could use time in the AHL, to get used to the size (if not speed) of the players they’ll face in the NHL.

      • Bullets Hockey

        They should make some exemptions….they do it for players to get into the CHL already.
        Although I think a lot of teams don’t want to start burning off years on the entry level contracts…..but for an elite player its probably worth it.

      • Jason Gregor

        I’ve wondered that many times and the answer seems to be so the talent level is maintained in the junior leagues.

        While I understand that, especially since I enjoy going to Winterhawk games, I think that there should be an adjustment. I suggest players drafted in the first round be allowed the option to play in the AHL if it is warranted. For the other players, the status quo should remain.

      • Jason Gregor

        The AHL should be an option straight out of junior, there is no reason why an 18 year old can step right into the NHL but not the AHL. It is a developmental flaw that ought to be fixed.

        Do you think NHL teams want kids wasting a year of ELC in the minors. It means way more players becoming UFAs at 25 and often many of them will play two years in the AHL before coming to the NHL.

        I’m not sure why so many people feel rushing kids to pro hockey is the best thing for their development.

        The vast majority of 1st round picks who go back to junior after being drafted aren’t head and shoulders above the rest.

        • Isn’t using up an ELC year the choice of the team? If they feel that a prospect needs a bump in competition, but isn’t ready for the NHL, and they’re willing to sacrifice an ELC year, it seems like a valid trade-off.

          Nobody said we should rush kids to pro hockey. In fact, this argument is about the opposite – rather than taking a guy like Jones who’s clearly too dominant for junior and sending him to the NHL where he gets exposed after 30 games, why not let him play in the AHL?

          • I’m differentiating between the NHL and AHL. You’re lumping both leagues in together under the label of “pro hockey”.

            The argument I’m making is rather than rushing players to the NHL, teams should have the option of sending select prospects (say, 1 who would normally be ineligible for the minors) to the AHL.

            You seem to be acting as if there’s no difference between the AHL and NHL.

          • Jason Gregor

            They should be able to go to the A without burning a year ELC.

            So then every player in the AHL is getting paid, but not on a pro contract? This makes no sense.

            How can you pay players, but not have them on a contract? Who pays Insurance if they aren’t on a contract. Think this through. It isn’t possible to not count as ELC.

    • Jason Gregor

      Reinhart played in WJC and won the Memorial Cup. His confidence is at an all-time high and he was able to work on improving his puck skills. He said this was in incredibly beneficial season.

      Saying he steamrolled league is inaccurate.

      Ask scouts, Nurse wasn’t physically dominating everynight in the OHL.

      Most 18 year olds and 19 year olds aren’t physically or, more importantly, emotionally ready for the wear and tear of the NHL.

      I haven’t seen any proof that these guys dominanted the CHL to a level that made them bored or had their skills lowered because of another year of junior.

        • Jason Gregor

          Reinhart wasn’t too good. That is the point. Having them be successful isn’t a bad thing. Drouin wasn’t putting up numbers well above other players. They aren’t too good for the CHL.

          • Jason Gregor

            Reinhart was a beast. I loved watching him with the Oil Kings, but it was almost comical seeing 16 and 17 year olds try to get around the guy. He was to the Oil Kings was Pronger was to the Oilers – 25 minutes a night where you knew almost nothing would go wrong.

            Drouin scored over 2ppg in his draft season and 2.4 last season. Nobody in junior even came close.

          • Jason Gregor

            Drouin scored 2.1 his draft year and 2.3 last year. He had 108 points this year and 105 last year in 3 fewer games. Not a major difference.

            He also scored 12 fewer goals this year compared to last. He became more of a playmaker with MacKinnon gone. Helped him round out his overall game.

            Mantha had 120 points in 57 games, 2.1 ppg. The top scorers in the Q over the past few years average more points than the top guys in the OHL or WHL.

            Did it hurt Drouin to keep his confidence high and work on other aspects of his game?

            If you want to say players shouldn’t have to go back to junior for the 2nd year after their draft, that could be argued, especially since players who are born after Sept 15th only have to play one year of junior before they can go to the AHL. Pitlick, Hamilton.

            But don’t see any reason why Drouin was limited by going back to junior.

            You are also forgetting the mental part of the game. Most players aren’t mentally ready for pro hockey. So no need to rush them.

          • nuge2drai

            I would argue that going from 2.1 to 2.3 is probably a lot tougher than going from 1.0 to 1.2, and I think you’ll agree.

            Of course he became more of a playmaker with MacKinnon gone. He lost his elite centre, he didn’t have a guy he could play off with together. He had to distribute more because he didn’t have the space he’d normally have with MacKinnon there. The next-best guy on the team was Ehlers who was on a different line most of the season.

            Mantha was one of those players I listed who I suggested would have been better served with a year of minor hockey.

            It didn’t hurt Drouin to keep his confidence high. However, I think it would have benefited him more to play against men. Players who are faster, and more importantly, bigger and stronger. Drouin’s hockey fundamentals are obviously more than fine. What he would benefit more from is the opportunity to practice those fundamentals against tougher competition.

            To give you an analogy, Lewis Hamilton didn’t go from Formula Renault directly to Formula 1. He could have practiced and kept his confidence up in Formula Renault, but he needed the faster pace of Formula 3 and GP2 to be ready for Formula 1.

            IMO, certain select players benefit more from being moved to the minors than staying in junior, and I’d argue Nurse is one of them this year.

          • Bullets Hockey

            My take is that they should be able to make exemptions if the NHL team is willing to burn 1 year off the ELC.
            They make exemptions for guys to get to the CHL to start with….seems logical to do it for the next level too.

          • pkam

            From your comment, Druoin isn’t getting any better in playing another year of juniors hockey as there is very little improvement, right?

            So if he was not capable of making the NHL and the juniors doesn’t seem to help his development, what is the best development option for him? Wouldn’t the AHL or ECHL make more sense?

            If he makes the NHL this coming season, would you think one year in AHL will do him better than the juniors?

      • nuge2drai

        Did you just compare Reinhart to Nurse? Sorry bro, only one of these guys can skate, the other bears a remarkable resemblance to one Alex Plante.

        Why don’t you try comparing Nurse to Ekblad? Ask this question, if Ekblad is too good for the OHL because of size and smarts, is he that much farther ahead than Nurse, at a year younger??? The two went head to head in the OHL this year, lots to compare, if you actually wanted to.

  • ubermiguel

    I don’t know enough about the Soo’s coaching staff to judge if going back to the CHL will help or hurt. Have they ever dealt with high-end borderline-NHL talent before? It’s one thing to develop batches of 16 year-olds, quite another to develop 19 year old first round draft picks.

  • Jason Gregor

    I liked the Marincin Petry combo last year, but it was such a small sample size, and I worry that tandem might go sideways at some point in the year, making everyone question why Marincin is still playing big minutes on the team.

    With his added weight, I see Nurse making a huge push for that spot this year, and I am great with that. After all, I think all Oiler fans want him to be our Seabrook, so we might as well get that process started.

    That only means Marincin and Klefbom get to further develop before earning a spot in the line up, or being traded for assets, and that sounds like a winning plan to me.

  • @Gregor

    there is no tangible proof that playing another year of junior will hurt his development or see him create bad habits.

    Coincidentally there is also no tangible proof that going to the NHL will hurt his development. Nor is there tangible proof that another year of junior will not create bad habits.

    I don’t have a firm opinion on the matter because I am not familiar enough with the player or his situation to claim to know what would be best for his development, but demanding proof is an odd way to try and sort out a clear “matter of opinion” issue.

  • Dan 1919

    JG – Thanks for the insight on the Blue’s usage of Pietrangelo; I had no idea that’s what they did and frankly it makes a ton of sense. If Nurse isn’t ready for a full season I can see a ton of benefit to him practicing with the team and learning the rigors of the NHL which would invariable help him the following season – moreso than the first 3 months of the junior season will. Not right for every player, but I could see Nurse falling into this category, particularly if he knows in advance that is the plan. I’m sure he’d rather take that route than go straight back to jr.

    Q: If he only plays his 9 games, but it does get spread out over say 2 1/2 months does he burn a year of his entry level deal?

    • Jason Gregor

      If he only plays 9 games he doesn’t burn up a year of his ELC. Pietrangelo actually played 9 games in 2008/2009 and then 9 games again in 2009/2010 and went back to junior both times.

      The one difference between the Blues and Oilers situation is that the Blues didn’t have two other young D-men battling for a spot like Marincin and Klefbom. They had older guys, plus Brewer was injured for the first 10 games of the year so that gave them more time to decide on Pietrangelo.

      • Guy Lafleur

        Hey Jason. Based on what you dug up on Pietrangelo, I completely agree with your argument. But maybe Brock Otten saw something different and more in depth back then when he was following the OHL that he didn’t get into detail in his article with.
        Would it be possible to get Mr.Otten on your show and pick his brain as to why he thinks Nurse will get bored? I’d like to hear more in depth discussion on this!
        Thanks!

  • Jason Gregor

    Jason : I see several European players are playing in mens leagues in Sweden , Finland, etc.. Why should North Americans have a similar type chance and still be eligible for junior tourneys, etc .? Could play amateur level at AHL level (top level only special status ) if agreed upon could they not ?

  • Jason Gregor

    Lots of interesting defense prospects here.

    The trick is to turn 2-3 into real NHL defenseman.

    I like the thought of from this list;

    one make the NHL club – Marincin

    Six play in the AHL –

    1-2 Kelblom, Simpson
    3-4 Davidson, Gernat
    5-6 Musil, Lagesson

    One plays in the CHL – Nurse

    I think this gives the best development chance the the group of 8 players.

    ALSO

    I would like to understand why Simpson needs two years in the AHL when Shultz and Dekeyser come from the NCAA and contribute to an NHL team almost “directly” from college?

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Probably should include last years top point getter for a D man. Brad hunt. They also have Jordan oesterle from college. 8 dmen could play regular minutes down there.

  • pkam

    Nurse hasn’t truly dominated the OHL yet. Let him go back and get the experience of being the man. Making junior Team Canada and being a big minute defender will be good for him.

  • A-Mc

    The 3 youngsters i anticipate seeing the most in the NHL this season are: Marincin, Klefbom, Draisaitl.

    I do think nurse will go back to junior because of the other 2 defensemen currently looking to make their way in. And something tells me that LD will make the team regardless. He’ll probably have a 30-40pt season, and I’m ok with that.

    • Guy Lafleur

      In a perfect world, yes this is what should happen. But my question is what do the Oilers do if Nurse comes in and out performs Klef and Marty?

      I dont see a huge problem with 2 of the 3 making the team. If they show well in camp and earn a spot

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    i’m very happy with how full our prospect cupboard is now after this draft. we have a good mix of size and talent at all positions that took only 4 drafts to build. major holes were filled on defense and center….how can one not be thrilled with the potential there with Nurse and Klefbom leading the way? or the size at center with Draisaitl, Yakimov and Chase? they finally even addressed the thin goaltending issue this draft by taking another 2 goalies.

    it’ll suck, but if Klefbom, Draisaitl and Nurse have to go back down for one more year for more seasoning, then so be it, but then they’ll have to address a major hole at center.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Is anyone seeing what the team is going to look like in one year’s time? I’ve been on board with the rebuild, but at no point did I see a team with an identity and purpose at every position.

    Arguably the team needs a top 2 defenceman, a 2nd line C, a 3rd line C, and someone to complete the shut down Gordon Hendricks line on the RW.

    Beginning next year, the team could have their 2nd line C in Draisaitl, their 3rd line C in either Yakimov or Jujhar. Finding someone to complete that Gordon line should not be that difficult. As even this year guys like Winnik and Booth are still very available.

    As for top pairing D, well next year you have Nurse, Klefbom, or Marincin likely available for trade to acquire an asset, or to prove themselves good enough for the job.

  • pkam

    Talking about our farm team OKC, it seems like the development of defensemen is more successful than that of the forwards. So I wonder who is coaching the offense and who is in charge of the defense.

    Amongst the prospects drafted in 2010, other than Hall who made the NHL out of the draft, 3 forwards (Pitlick, Hamilton and Martindale) were drafted in the 2nd and 3rd round. They all made OKC in 2011-12, one year after their draft. They all are supposed to be big skilled forward and did have excellent numbers in juniors before turning pros. Now Martindale is done, Hamilton looks like a bust, and Pitlick is still a question mark after spending 3 years in the minors.

    Marincin is the only defenseman drafted in the 2nd round and he made the OKC in 2012-13, one year after those 3 forwards. He has already played over 40 NHL games and looks like a keeper this coming season. Davidson was drafted in the 6th round and like Marincin, also turned pro in 2012-13. Now Thompson says we may see him play some NHL games this season.

    If we compare the prospects drafted in 2011, all the defensemen seem to transition to AHL pretty smoothly, but the 2 forwards Travis Ewanyk and Kale Kessy seem to have more difficult transition.

    And with prospect in earlier drafts like Omark, MPS, and Lander, none of them has been able to bring their excellent AHL performance to the next level.

    I hope I am over worry but I just can’t stop worrying about our next group of big skilled forwards in Mitchell Moroz, Jujhar Khaira, Marco Roy, Bogdan Yakimov, and Gregory Chase.

  • pkam

    don’t put Nurse in juniors too long. Let him have his 9 games to have a taste of the physical Western conference but after his CHL season ends let him play for Todd Nelson

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I am not sold on Klefbom being ready after watching him schooled 3 times by Flames 8-1 thrashing of our team late in the year. Marincin has a ways to go yet and needs more weight to be effective for his height . Nurse is better , has a better upside than the both of them , and is a top prospect to boot . I say Nurse stays before the other two . Reasonably , you do not expect such a high draft choice such as Nurse to have to spend an additional 2 years back in junior , or your choice was far less than you expected . Not like we are L.A. that could do well without longer than a bottom feeder like ourselves . Draisaitl in much same scenario when having to rise above Arco and Landers – wouldn’t take much to rise above the two of them .

    • Spoils

      I would advise caution before coming to the conclusion that Nurse is better than Marincin and Klefbom at this point. Nurse has never had to face real NHL caliber players, he too might get “schooled”.

      • Do what Weight did?

        ED: Do you honestly think Oilers would have drafted Nurse at 7th if they did not expect him to be much better than them ? Did not Nurse get a taste of AHL after the junior season ? I thought Nurse was better than them last year , but only option was back to junior .

  • Spoils

    Nice article.

    Just for fun – dreaming up the 2017ish FUTUREOiler lines. Curious who ends up where… what positions are we looking to fill – and who is likely to fill them.

    Hall – Nuge – Yakupov
    Perron – Draisaitl – Eberle
    Pouliot – Yakimov – Purcell
    Hendricks – Gordon – Chase

    Nurse – Klefbom
    Marincin – Schultz
    Nikitin – Petry

    Scrivens

    thoughts?

    • billythebullet

      Due to the age some of these guys will be in 2017 I doubt this roster looks remotely like this. Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Will in my opinion be the only 3 player’s barring injury that will likely be a lock on this roster in 2017.
      Perron and Pouliot r my best geuss at the next 2 most likely forwards to still be kicking. If Drai is as good as we hope pencil him in, ditto yaks unless he continues down the scapegoat path. So for the heck of it this is what I hope for.

      Hall-Nuge-Ebs
      Perron-Drai-Yaks
      Pouliot-Arco-who knows
      Moroz-Khaira-Chase
      As for your d, u could be bang on.

      Goalies, Scrivens, and he may be getting pushed around by Broisoit for starts…

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ^@spoils…. there’s got to be room 3 years from now for fully developed players like McCarron, Khaira, Moroz, Simpson, Musil and Davidson, at least they will be given a shot to make it. and who’s to say Perron and Purcell will still be here?

  • Do what Weight did?

    Jason, there seems to be some debate about the rules regarding sending prospects to the AHL vs. CHL/junior. I suspect that these would be CBA related issues, but it’s always seemed weird to me.

    One thing that seems obvious to me is that the cutoff age/date for the NHL draft should line up with the cutoff for the AHL, so that any prospect in their ‘draft +1’ year would be eligible for the AHL. I’m not sure if it would be better to adjust the draft age or the AHL cutoff, but I’d like them to line up.

    Further, would you be able to clarify a couple things for me, please? You have mentioned the entry-level contracts and how playing in the AHL uses up a year. Does that mean the player will be eligible for UFA status a year earlier if he plays a year in the AHL? Or does that simply mean he’ll have to renew his contract as an RFA a year earlier, and still require the same (7?) years in the NHL before qualifying for UFA status?

    I’m nt sure if I’m the only one unclear about the details of the CBA as it related to your discussion with some other posters on this site. Hopefully you can clarify for my. Thanks!

  • Do what Weight did?

    Solid article Jason. I can’t help but notice that outside of Nurse and Lagesson all the D prospects listed are 21 or 22. The top forward prospects: Yakimov, Khaira, Chase and Moroz are all 19/20. Wouldn’t it make sense to balance out the organizational depth by trading a Musil or Gernat for a good C/W prospect with say a ’93 birth certificate?

  • WeridAl

    Comparing Reinhart to Nurse is like comparing a tree trunk to a bean pole. I understand Nurse put on about 20lbs ( 205lbs) in the last couple of months, but he still lacks the upper body strength Reinhart has. Nurse has all the skill, and bleeds potential, but his defensive skills are severely lacking. Watching him with the Barons at times he looked like a deer caught in a set of headlights, or a chicken with his head cutoff. He’s not ready, and building up the strength and adding bulk will not give him the defensive skills he lacks. Nurse needs another year in the OHL, and maybe a year in the AHL.

    Gregor, Musil’s skating is not that bad anymore, it still needs work, but it is not a major issue. They don’t call him big Musil for nothing, that big stay at home D with loads of grit. Looking at the Oilers D right now, there is not much size with grit there. There is size, but if Klefbom plays in the AHL, the Oilers D is rather soft.

    What I saw at the prospects game is some people should be concerned about Simpsons skating. Has it really improve to a NHL level?

    I really like Brandon Davidson, this kid has it all, and continues to improve, watch out for him

  • gr8one

    It seems pretty simple to me.

    See how Nurse plays in pre-season, if he looks good than keep him up for his 9 game stint, if he hits home runs during those nine games than keep him, because he’s earned it and belongs. Ig he looks lie he’s in over his head than send him back to junior.

    Arguing about it now just seems foolish.

  • Guy Lafleur

    I like the idea of having a player be able to be assigned to the AHL earlier. You know the NHL would love it because there would be more attraction to its lower league. Hence bringing in more tv contracts for a sub premium league. Probably would be the second premier sports league to have regularly broadcast minor league, next to Soccer.

    I think as long as the players would still be aloud to go to WJHC. I would be excited to see that prospect.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hope they keep Nurse this season.

    He may not have his license to kill just yet. Doesn’t mean the Oilers can’t give him his learners permit to do just that this coming season.

    Hockey violence = good. Let the beast start showing he belongs.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Brock Otten response:

      That’s perfectly fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

      Nowhere did I say that he dominated every shift. I said that he dominated quite a few shifts. There’s a difference there.

      Bottom line is that if he dominated quite a few shifts last year, the projection would be for him to dominate even more as a 19 year old. And that raises the question? Do you want him dominating the competition? Quite frankly, I’d rather my top prospect be challenged. It’s only through adversity and challenge that we improve.

      Pietrangelo is the perfect case of that. Jason Gregor can throw stats out as he wishes, but Pietrangelo was not terrific in that 19 year old year with Barrie (a year which I saw him a lot). He DID develop bad habits that year and in 08-09 with Niagara. He was making bad pinches, had developed a bit of lazyness away from the puck and in returning to his own end and times looked disinterested when the puck wasn’t on his stick.

      Did Pietrangelo turn out alright? Hell yeah he did. He’s one of the top defenseman in the NHL already at a young age. But his final two years in junior, where he bounced around the NHL, and the OHL were not good years for him in the OHL.

      Each individual prospect requires a different developmental path because no two people/players are the same psychologically.

      The coaching staff in Sault Ste. Marie is top notch, among the best in the league. But what I’m simply saying is that I think he’s learned all he can from the OHL. The coaching staff can’t control the competition he’ll be facing off against. Nurse is physically ready for the NHL. And I think he’s mentally ready for it too. One of the most composed and mature kids in the O.

      Nowhere in the article did I say that if the Oilers send him back to the OHL he’ll be ruined and will never develop into an NHL player. I said I think it would be a mistake and I stick by that. I think he’s ready for a new challenge.

      July 21, 2014 at 4:12 PM
      Blogger Brock Otten said…
      I should add…

      Yes, Nurse does have some things to work on. He’s by no means the perfect player? But who is.

      His ability to read the play, both offensively and defensively, is the biggest area of improvement needed from him.

      But in the OHL, he can find so much success without having that particular trait, because of his skill set. In the NHL, he’d be forced to learn and forced to improve. That’s just my two cents.

      If he comes back to the OHL next year, dominates, wins a WJC Gold, wins Defenseman of the Year. That would all be fine and dandy. It’s not going to screw him up. BUT, going into 2015/2016, when he goes to make Edmonton, he’ll still have to learn how to play to the speed of the NHL and improve his decision making ability. Why not do it next year?

      • Dan 1919

        ABSOLUTELY AGREE … these bloggers and scribes are too afraid of losing their media pass to actually question what the “Established Oiler Management” brain thrust are force feeding them.

        Makes no sense … Best time to learn the NHL game is the first 20 games … But let’s send the kid who needs a challenge back to the OHL instead of playing him as a 5/6 damn against other teams third and fourth lines.

        Yes let’s sign more rejects from other teams to multi-year one way deals to take all incentive away from these kids; because we know the rejects signing for term and dollar will sure be motivated on the OIL.

        Makes a lot of sense. Where did you go to school again? Oh right, this is an on-line blog….

    • Dan 1919

      Agreed, I think people are overestimating current Oiler D and underestimating Nurse right now. Everyone seems to forget the sad truth that Nurse should have made the Oilers last year based on training camp performance, but based on common sense, and his best interest, they sent him down regardless of his superior showings over the Petrys and Garbagekovs etc.

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two of Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin force their way onto the team next year, meaning Petry is the odd man out.

      If that’s the case I’d expect Petry to be traded early in the season for a third liner, hopefully a 3C.

      Or as the article suggests, maybe everything will continue slowly with one guy getting an NHL spot, but I just don’t see it. These guys are coming to the age and skill level where they start to take spots from the streaky guys who just can’t seem to find a consistent NHL game (Petry).

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    My prediction for the Oilers 2017 lineup:

    Hall – Hopkins – Eberle

    Perron – McDavid – Yakupov

    Pouliot – Draisaitl – Khaira

    Moroz – Yakimov – Chase

    Nurse – Marincin

    Nikitin – Fayne

    Klefbom – Shultz

    Scrivens – Broissoit

  • Dan 1919

    “First 20 games of the season are much slower than the last 60” …. Exactly the training ground the rookies need to get upto speed in the NHL. Much better than throwing them in with no exposure in those last 60 games after playing at a lower level during the time when they could be getting actual NHL experience against actual NHL players for competition … But who knows better than scribes and seasoned coaches of … (wait for it) … a whole year’s worth of experience. Too bad you couldn’t give certain. Coaches, managers or scribes a nine game audition.

  • DonEnrico

    @JG and/or anyone that might feel they have an answer:

    Is it allowed for a junior player to go play a year in europe? As people have said, there are a lot of junior players here in Sweden, that play in SHL (=top flight mens league for those not familiar) before they go over to the NHL.

    Or are the two only options 1) NHL or 2) back to junior?

    It would be awesome to see some promising canadian players come over here to play, and it might be a great learning experience. For example, just ask Jusitn Williams or Anze Kopitar what they thought it was like to play here in Sweden (Williams wasn´t a junior, I know…)