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If your favorite NHL team drafted a defenseman in the second round for ten seasons in a row, would they graduate three of them? Two? The dice have no memory, but Scott Cullen’s work at TSN suggests there is a 28% chance a second round selection plays 100 or more NHL games. The Edmonton Oilers have devoted a lot of selections to defensemen in the top 100 picks since 2010. The odds are some are going to develop, right?

Scott Cullen’s study is here.

In one of the first episodes of Oil Change, Stu MacGregor is fretting over the team’s lack of defensemen in the system. In a scene where they are discussing the 31st overall selection (forward Tyler Pitlick would eventually be chosen) MacGregor is recorded as saying they have to draft a defensemen high in the draft. The team would trade the rights for Riley Nash for the No. 46 overall selection, and that would set off an incredible run on defensemen inside the top 100 overall in the next several drafts.

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  1. 2010 No. 46 Martin Marincin
  2. 2010 No. 91 Jeremie Blain
  3. 2011 No. 19 Oscar Klefbom
  4. 2011 No. 31 David Musil
  5. 2011 No. 92 Dillon Simpson

That’s a very large group of picks devoted to defensemen over a short period of time. There’s one pick in the first round, two in the second and then a couple of men taken in the 90’s. Five picks inside two seasons, clearly an attempt to upgrade an area of need.

We can all agree that ‘best player available’ is the right call, but if a team is in dire need at a position, especially defense, then adding a large group from one position is the quickest way to add balance to the prospect cupboard. Edmonton did it, and as it turns out four of the five names above played well enough to earn a pro contract from the Oilers (Jeremie Blain would sign with the Canucks).


The Oilers have a group of emerging blueliners in Marincin, Klefbom and others. They also spent a very high pick in 2013 on Darnell Nurse. They are quickly reaching the point where they can’t possibly employ the number of defensemen who look like they’ll develop into NHL players. Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry were joined by Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom at times last season during the NHL schedule, and Nurse could make the team this fall.

If and when Simpson, Musil and lower picks like Martin Gernat and Brandon Davidson develop? The Oilers will have a surplus, and will be able to deal from strength to address weakness for the first time in a long while. 

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It’s possible the tipping point comes this fall. If Darnell Nurse plays well enough to make the team, Edmonton’s depth chart will contain nine defensemen for seven spots:

  1. Mark Fayne
  2. Jeff Petry
  3. Martin Marincin
  4. Justin Schultz
  5. Nikita Nikitin
  6. Andrew Ference
  7. Oscar Klefbom
  8. Keith Aulie
  9. Darnell Nurse

The Oilers could send down Marincin and Klefbom without a waiver worry; they could trade Jeff Petry or risk waivers on Aulie. Either way, the beginning of the end is here for someone on the professional blue depth chart, they can’t all be Oilers.

Who goes? Who knows? We can probably start having the conversation now.

  • BlazingSaitls

    If Darnell plays well enough to make the team I think Klefbom should start the year with OKC. Maracin has done more than enough to establish himself as a regular for the Oilers imo.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Ference’s usage might prove to be a good litmus test for MacT and Eakins. If he’s outplayed a fair bit at camp, are they willing to stick the captain in the press box if there are 6 better D on merit?

  • Word to the Bird

    Why haven’t we discussed the concept of trading some defensive prospects in a package for a 2C? Gets rid of the logjam on defense and helps the current roster.

    • bwar

      My guess would be that teams want Marincin, Klefbom or Nurse and the Oilers value them much higher than other teams do. But with that said hopefully as the Schultz saga drags on someone signs him to a hefty offer sheet and Oilers just let him walk. Doesn’t solve the logjam completely but opens the door for either Klefbom or Nurse to impress right now, adds another 2015 1st plus and really doesn’t weaken us defensively in the slightest.

    • Craig1981

      Because I remember just a few years ago when we had two can’t miss, sure fire, top pairing blue chip, blue line prospects…… Petry and Chorney…. PLUS a 15th overall, stay at home guy with NHL bloodlines in Alex Plante .

      Until you have prospects with top 4 pairing possibility that you have to place on waivers, you don’t have a logjam. That is because you never know who will work out.

      • Spydyr

        You were sold on Chorney and Plante?

        I sure as heck wasn’t.

        I don’t like Petry or Schultz a whole lot right now either.Hopefully the young group coming up makes one or both tradable assets.

        • Craig1981

          Ya, but you are negative about everything so you get no credit for that.

          All three were legitimate prospects, as are the Oilers current AHL/CHL players. I think its fair to say that some of the players in the system will disappoint, which isn’t a failure on the the organization since it happens .

          • Spydyr

            So beacuse I’m negative but right There is no credit?

            Okay than.

            There has been so much to be positive about since 2006 , right.

            “I won’t get fooled again”

            The Who.

          • Craig1981

            Since 2006. Penner had a 32 goal season, Hemsky was i nthe part of his career that made you stand up and go wow!. Scrivens had the record for thr most saves in a SO. Gagner had an eight point night. Eberle’s first goal!!. Some steve Mac fights. Lubomir Visnovsky played really well here as did Whitney before the injuries.

            There have been little glimmers in this dark time. Speaking negatively about seemingly everything a last place team does, does not give you credit for hockey insight.

          • Spydyr

            You know what was a positive time was?

            Four Cups in five years, good times…….to bad you are to young to remember them.

            You hold on to a 32 goal season I remember a 92 goal season.

            Hemsky made you say wow.Gretzky made me say wow.

            Scrivens 50 saves or Ranford winning the Conn Smyth along with the Cup Furh’s four Cups.

            Eberle’s first goal or Grezky’s 50 in 39.

            Mac fights or Semenko destroying anyone who even looked funny at a skill player.

            Visnovsky and Whitney playing well for you.I remember Coffee in his prime.

            As you see your definition of positive and my definition vary quite a bit.

            Your memories pale in comparison to mine.

            I’m not even mentioning hall of famers Like Messier, Anderson and Kurri.

            Yes, we were spoiled.

          • Craig1981

            No need to write all that. Yes the team of the 80s is the opposite of the team in the last 8. Far more fun to cheer for too. No question. It doesn’t make me any less right that there have been positives on the team the last 8….. just not near enough and far too few negatives.

          • Craig1981

            Gagners 8 point night, Scrivens 59 saves both belong in that same legendary category as the ones you bad they were only one night stands though..had Gagner put up over 100 pts in the same season that he put up 8 and 5 point nights..then we might really be talking..
            Probably the only two Oilers from the past ten yrs that couldve fit in with the Oilers of the 80s are Chris Pronger and Taylor Hall….so far..
            Cujo, Guerin, Smyth and Weight also belong there if your talking late 90s-early 2000s.

  • bwar

    They are all NHL defenseman now , with the exception of Nurse who has yet to play an NHL game . How good they are is debateable . We need major strides from Nurse , Klefbom , Marincin and even Aulie if we are going to take steps forward as a defensive unit . Schultz looks to be out of the picture for start of season with no contract in sight . Who knows for sure if that might not be a good thing ? With Petry good enough to play on American team , then he should be good enough for Oilers and still has upside yet to come .

  • bwar

    1) Counting chickens before they’ve hatched.

    2) Petry is already as good as gone since MacT refused to pay him a fair salary.

    3) When you best defensemen for the last two seasons (see 2) is as good as gone, you are not in a position of “surplus”.

    4) Aulie is basically nothing. He is a marginal D who can be buried in the minors without a salary cap impact or sit in the pressbox as injury insurance. See Jeff Schultz in LA last year, or Sheldon Brookbank in Chicago. They mean young D don’t have to be rushed or fill a pressbox slot.

    • bwar

      I think it’s amazing that they let you participate in the negotiations. What was it that MacT was offering, and what was Petry looking for? Please enlighten us, we’d love access to your inside information.

    • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

      Send Nurse back to the OHL, and Klefbomb to OKC. The Red Wings wouldn’t rush the youngsters NO MATTER HOW BAD the rest of the blue looks.

      • BlazingSaitls

        Clearly you didnt listen to Brenden Ulrich’s interview of Ken Holland a couple weeks ago. You might want to check out the OilersNow archive and listen to it.

    • SLURVE

      The Detroit model as you infer is an artifact of era before CBA, no salary cap, and weak European scouting. Those days are over. Even Detroit can’t live off that model going forward, especially the role value contracts play now.

      This is the year Detroit realizes being forced to resign Quincy is less valuable then bringing up a more recent draft pick. Did DeKeyser spend time ripening in GR, although he did have collegiate development?

      It’s likely the year they realize Mantha replacing Franzen is better for them now and for development.

      Detroit will be like everyone else:

      Play top 10 draft players as early as first year.

      Play bottom first rounders D+1.

      Play 2nd and 3rd rounders D+2.

      Play late rounders D+3 or D+4, and rest don’t make it.

      There is nothing gained in over ripening players in minors under current CBA.

      When Hank and Datsyk have hung up skates the transition will be finalized, but we’ll be quoting it here for another ten years 😉

      • Serious Gord

        There is a lot of strength to your post.

        That said I think Detroit mgmt will resist playing picks at an early age far more than teams like EDM and cgy and Toronto. That is in part due to the fan pressure being much higher in those cities than in Detroit but it is also due to management style differences.

      • Serious Gord

        There is a lot of strength to your post.

        That said I think Detroit mgmt will resist playing picks at an early age far more than teams like EDM and cgy and Toronto. That is in part due to the fan pressure being much higher in those cities than in Detroit but it is also due to management style differences.

        • SLURVE

          There will be chinks in Detroit management as previous post about Holland’s comments on Nurse attest.

          The new model is Chicago and Bowman is the big brain in the room:

          Shaw in ’11 as a D+0 makes team from as deep as a fifth round pick.

          Saad in ’12 as a D+1 makes team from second round, 43rd position.

          Teravainen would have been there but he hasn’t cracked 170 lbs.

          Bowman won cup and immediately parleyed for picks so he can get young blood in line-up. Maybe LA beats them next year, but Chicago is still rising, and I’ll take their pipeline over LA.

          You need as many years as you can get early if you are going to keep your superstars.

          Same applies on D, it’s just that Chicago landed some studs and that delays dropping in young D.

          For Oilers, play as many as the young D as you can stomach because you’re still several years away.

      • Basshole39

        I agree completely.

        Just in case some of you haven’t heard how Detroit got Datsyuk in the 6th round. Detroits scout flew to Siberia a day early. Scouts from 6 other teams were going to come the next day. A big snow storm hit and all flights were grounded. No other scout saw him play as his team was from the middle of no where.

        Goes to show sometimes you got to be lucky too!

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Send Klefbom, Nurse and Draisaitl back to Jr/Ahl.

    Let Nurse and Leon gain another 15 pounds each and mature physically.

    Have both players join the team next year when they are 230+ pound beasts.

    Seems like common sense to me.

    Who cares about this year… the teams one center injury away from a lottery pick.

    Only thing that makes sense to me is front office wants McDavid or Eichel… no way they think they can compete with Nuge and Gordan as their 1/2 punch in the west…

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    My prediction for the season:

    Nuge goes down for 20 games. Gordan goes down for 40 games. Its the NHL injuries happen.

    Oilers lineup for half the season:

    Hall Arc Eberle

    Perron Lander Yakupov

    Pouliout Hendricks Purcell

    This is a 30th place team… poor Yak.. He’s going to get stuck with Lander or Gordan for half the season… not a way to develop a #1 pick…

    The bright side… the 2015 roster….

    Hall McDavid Eberle

    Perron Nuge Yakupov

    Pouliout Draisaitl Purcell

    Having McDavid, Nuge and Draisaitl as our top 3 centers for the next decade might actually make the infinibuild worthwhile…I’m guessing that’s the plan anyways…

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    finally a nice problem to have….a surplus of quality d-men that other organizations might be interested in. you have to include Brandon Davidson who himself is apparently very close to being NHL ready. Davidson, Musil, Klefbom, Marincin, Simpson, Nurse, Gernat and perhaps soon we could add to the mix Oesterle, Betker, LaLeggia and Lagesson. how sweet is that?

  • Craig1981

    No need to write all that. Yes the team of the 80s is the opposite of the team in the last 8. Far more fun to cheer for too. No question. It doesn’t make me any less right that there have been positives on the team the last 8….. just not near enough and far too few negatives.