There are plenty of hopeful candidates (but very little actual hope) among the outsider defensemen on the Oilers 50-man roster. A summer of signing free agents has effectively pushed back the prospects and made surprises unlikely—but not impossible.
- Mark Fayne
- Justin Schultz
- Jeff Petry
- Andrew Ference
- Nikita Nikitin
The only possible movement from this list being cast in stone is the Justin Schultz contract negotiations. I don’t see it as being a huge issue (despite the fact it’s taking awhile) and once it’s done these five are locked and loaded for 2014-15.
THE BLUE LINE CANDIDATES
- Keith Aulie—There’s a 70% chance Aulie makes the team. There’s no doubt in my mind Aulie makes the final roster, I’ve pegged it here for conversation. Dallas Eakins ran Will Acton opening night a year ago and Ryan Hamilton shortly after—Marlies go to the front of the line.
Martin Marincin—Marincin has a 70% chance of making the
Oilers. I’d like it to be higher, but something tells me the Oilers
really like Klefbom’s style and Aulie’s size. Marincin’s impressive NHL
debut should mean he plays an extended period in the NHL in 2014-15, but
he is not a lock for opening night.
- Oscar Klefbom—There’s a 50% chance Klefbom makes the team. I’m factoring in both percentages and chances of injury here, so the % total will be more than 100 for the two remaining positions. I would not be surprised if the Oilers keep Klefbom and send out Marincin—think they like him a lot.
- Darnell Nurse—He has a 20% chance to make the team. I think he’d have to do something incredible in a late pre-season contest for Edmonton to keep him. There’s just too much competition, and he would be applying for a feature role. If he makes it, the training camp stories will have a lot of Darnell in them.
- Brad Hunt—He has a 10% chance to make the team. Hunt can fill a very specific role—power-play quarterback. If Craig Ramsay sees him good, it could happen. Not a massive opening, but there’s a little daylight.
- Brandon Davidson—He has a 5% chance to make the team. Jason Gregor’s recent conversation with Rocky Thompson was very insightful, and about a part of the game we can’t see or measure. Davidson’s progress has impressed some important people. There’s a chance.
- David Musil—He has a 3% chance. Jonathan Willis mentioned Musil on the Lowdown today, suggesting foot speed is the only major issue (he’s developing on pace in all other areas).
- Martin Gernat—He has a 2% chance. Mobile defenders are more in style than ever, and despite some chaos Gernat can use his speed and wingspan to recover defensively.