Brad Hunt found a home with the Oklahoma City Barons in 2013-14, and this season he may do a little better than that with the Oilers organization. A team that ran through 14 defensemen a year ago will probably use close to a baker’s dozen this time. Who is most likely to see NHL time?
PROJECTED OILERS 2014-15 DEFENSE
The order doesn’t matter for our purposes, but the seven (eight) names are clearly projected to play in the NHL this season—ahead of the other defenders on the team’s 50 man list. As you know, Darnell Nurse has special circumstances, it’s NHL or OHL and no in between.
PROJECTED BARON 2014-15 DEFENSE
There are men who are not on the 50-man list that will be vying for AHL playing time this fall, but this is the group who should be in contention for NHL time.
When it comes to replacing (for injury) a player like Mark Fayne, NHL equivalencies can’t help. Fayne’s ability to make a difference in games is defensive, and NHLE measures only offense. That said, running all the prospects through the NHLE gives us a good idea about the most able offensive players who play the defensive position.
As was the case with the forwards, I normally use two sources, Gabriel Desjardins and Rob Vollman.
Desjardins’ version of equivalencies have been around for over a decade
and are the standard. Rob Vollman’s came to the forefront after his
Hockey Abstract book was released last summer. For our purposes, I’ll
use .3 for the CHL, and Vollman’s guide for college, AHL and Europe.
NHLE FOR D 2014-15 (per 82gp)
- Brad Hunt 6-22-28
- Darnell Nurse 5-14-19
- Dillon Simpson 6-12-18
- Martin Gernat 3-13-16
- Jordan Oesterle 1-11-12
- David Musil 1-8-9
- Oscar Klefbom 1-8-9
- Brandon Davidson 3-5-8
Hunt is clearly the top offensive option, but that doesn’t mean he’d be the first callup. If Justin Schultz were injured, or the team needed a different look on the power play (remember Phil Larsen a year ago?) Hunt would certainly be the go-to guy.
Nurse’s NHLE suggests he’s going to be able to move the puck (which matches his resume) but the question surrounding his future is being NHL-ready. Dillon Simpson is closer, and college defensemen often spend less than a full season in the AHL after graduating from the NCAA, so he’s a possibility. Oesterle is in the same family of players, but is probably behind Simpson (we’ll see).
After that, it’s Gernat, Musil, Klefbom and Davidson. Gernat’s offensive ability is clear, but if he doesn’t get a lot of power-play time then the offense is going to look pedestrian (true of all Oilers defensemen this side of Paul Coffey).
RANKING THE RECALLS
Taking NHLE into consideration, but also understanding defense is so much more than the boxcars, here’s my guess for recall order:
- Darnell Nurse (either he makes it or is back to the OHL)
- Oscar Klefbom
- Brad Hunt
- Brandon Davidson
- Martin Gernat
- David Musil
- Dillon Simpson
- Jordan Oesterle
We’ll take another look at this around Christmas, to see if men like Simpson and Oesterle have been able to move up the depth chart and become legit recall options. From Matt Greene to Jeff Petry, those college blue usually don’t take long.
(photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)