Jordan Oesterle is turning heads

Craig MacTavish8

Over two Oilers’ rookie contests I’ve listened to a pair of interviews with general manager Craig MacTavish and one with head coach Dallas Eakins. In each of those interviews, they were asked to name an under-the-radar player who had impressed them favourably in the tournament to-date.

In all three cases, Jordan Oesterle was mentioned in answer.

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Kevin McCartney, Game 1:

Simpson’s partner showed well, and my brain immediately thought of Taylor Fedun. His stance is a little higher than Fedun, but he’s a smooth skater and passer, has a compact and efficient shot, and has the range to avoid contact most of the game (though isn’t afraid of it). It was a good showing despite a few errors with the puck and some missed reads without it. Simpson covered for him a bit, but Osterle made a case as a competent puck managing defenceman.

Allan Mitchell, Games 1 and 2:

Along with Yakimov, Oesterle is the rising player from this year’s Young Stars tournament. He delivers way more offense than the numbers imply and he’s capable defensively. Could this be the next Arcobello (college signing forces his way past draft picks to win the day)? There are many players ahead of him but he’s stood out in a good way this weekend.

Me, Game 1:

He had a pretty decent game with a few hiccups, and was passing the puck nicely enough that Craig MacTavish commented on it at the intermission. Not bad for a guy who Nelson mentioned as cramping up afterward.

Me, Game 2:

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Running around a little in his own end early… he was beat back to his own net by an attacking forward; apparently got caught napping… made a bad defensive zone giveaway… threw a hit behind the net that ended up with him getting possession of the puck and then moved it smartly… aggressively jumping into the play four-on-four, nearly with results… aggressive in the defensive zone and got caught way up ice with three guys behind him… he had a bit of a difficult first period by my eye but calmed down the rest of the way. Lots to like in the way he plays the game.



Gap control and puck movement were the two areas that MacTavish and Eakins kept hitting on in interviews, and together those two qualities make Oesterle a somewhat stereotypical college defenceman. He’s a solid positional defender who lacks a physical edge, and a solid puckmover who lacks high-end offence – the kind of player who is good at a lot of things but not great at anything.

It’s important to keep this performance in perspective, of course. In a five-game cameo with the Barons at the end of last season Oesterle got terrible reviews (he went minus-three in that span) and just as that handful of games didn’t define who he was as a player neither do a pair of contests at a rookie tournament.

These games are an indicator. Oesterle’s done enough to impress the people in the organization who really matter, which pushes the door open a little wider for opportunities in training camp and for opportunities down with the Barons this season.

For players already under contract, that’s all that can reasonably come out of a rookie camp.


  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    We’re having a Nush/Nurse debate?

    I don’t think it can be mentioned enough, defenseman develop sloooooowerrrrr.

    Patients, lets revisit this in two years.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    With his season already etched in stone, Nurse seems to be a little disinterested so far. Last season looks to be a wasted year sending him back to coast and play kids hockey last season. It wouldn’t be hard to make a case he made little to no progress playing in junior last season, compared to being pushed by better competition up in the NHL. He would’ve been better off staying here with better competition and support staff. I’m sure Seth Jones hit a few speed bumps in his first season as well.

    Hopefully Darnells play elevates when up against some actual NHL capable players next week. What a waste it’ll be to have him go back for yet another season in junior. With most of the personnel decisions already made, most if not all of these kids have zero chance of making the team. What’s the purpose of having them getting in the way…

    • Zarny

      What absolute silliness.

      Nurse’s season is already etched in stone? Pfft…hardly.

      Sending him back last season looks to be a wasted year? Ummm no. He improved as a player and progressed.

      Considering Darnell wasn’t even one of the top 7 or 8 D in Canada under 21 y/o last year there is certainly plenty he can learn in Jr again. This applies to Draisaitl as well.

      The biggest advantage to another year in Jr is basic ice-time and playing 20-28 min a night. Playing against better competition in the NHL has merit, but development is largely a function of ice-time.

      Simply put…defending 1,348 odd man rushes against the best Jr players is probably better than defending 473 odd man rushes against bottom 6 F in the NHL. 256 PP minutes in Jr is better than 48 PP min in the NHL.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      I really do not understand all the negative hits as I see Jr. as a level below OKC. I for the life of me can not understand the NHLPA insisting on the NHL teams not being able to send a prospect were they have the greatest chance of success. Nurse would be far ahead of where he is now in OKC IMO. Some kids need to see that there is a process and that they are moving closer to the NHL and going back to Jr. does not do it for many.

      • The Last Big Bear

        As far as I understand, It’s an agreement between the NHL and CHL.

        The CHL doesn’t want all of its almost-NHL-ready star players going to the American League as soon as they hit 18, which would significantly degrade quality of the CHL leagues.

        It would be better for the development of a few top prospect players every year, but I believe the argument is that it would be very bad for major junior hockey as a whole to lose all of their over-agers to the AHL.

        • Zarny

          You are correct.

          If NHL teams were free to choose; many top prospects like Yakupov, Nurse and Draisaitl who might be a little too good for Jr but not good enough for the NHL would play in the AHL immediately after being drafted.

          The problem is they are not free to choose. The deal between the NHL and CHL is part of the collective bargaining agreement and the rationale is exactly as you explained – major junior teams don’t want to lose all their 18-19 y/o stars to the AHL.

  • pkam


    The way you described Jordan Oesterle reminds of the comments about the Camry from many car journalists, a car which is not great at anything but is good at everything.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Personally, I think it’s going to be Klefbom who makes it impossible for the big team to send him away. At that point… then what?

      I think Petry will be on the move sooner than originally (trade deadline’ish) anticipated. But I think it will be Oscar, and not Darnell, that forces their hand. Now if both accomplish the feat, then we really are talking about a completely new set of wheels for this team.

      If nothing else, I believe this year’s camp and pre-season promise to be the most interesting for our D-corps in a very, very long time.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      He’s been fine so far, but being pretty good at everything but not having one quality that really stands out — puck-moving, skating, physicality etc — tends to end up with unheralded prospects lost in the mix once the step is made to main camp and then to actual NHL games.

      Being a pleasant surprise when you’re so far down the depth charts is fine, but unless you blow the doors off the coaches as a 22-year-old, it seldom means a job in the NHL.

    • Joy S. Lee

      He may have been more motivated than most. First of all, he knows the Oilers wanted the other guy more, because they picked first. He’s decided to take it personally, and I don’t blame him. Anything for a motivational edge. But if he finds an extra gear for games against us, Leon will be called out, and that’s probably a good thing, too. I think Leon likes a challenge just as much as Bennett does. Should be interesting…

      • Reg Dunlop

        I see where Bennett may be motivated to prove the Oilers were wrong and I agree that LD will feel the need to step up. Will it be interesting though? No because LD can’t skate and the oil blew the pick. Next off season the focus should be on LD getting lighter and quicker like G. Chase. As for this year, if plan A has LD playing top 9 minutes and there is no plan B, this will be a disaster resulting in a fired coach and a lottery finish.

      • TS

        Bennet is just better, right now, against other young prospects. The hope is that Draisaitl will prove as good or better in a few years against NHL competition. But to pretend Bennet isn’t better is kinda silly.

  • Joy S. Lee

    The depth in OKC is beginning to look quite exciting, as well.

    And as a side-note, I’ll add my name to the small chorus saying ‘please sign Tkachek!’ Lol.

  • Bob Cobb

    How about instead of just using quotes from yourself and other nation writers you actually have quotes from Mac-T and Eakins? Novel idea eh? Considering that is what you opened the blog entry with I doubt I was the only one that was expecting an actual quote from the aforementioned about said player, not that I’m trying to tell you how to do your job but it would make your work more credible.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    C.J.Ludwig a Right handed defenceman no less . Two goals and almost a third . With Michigan in 13 games had 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points . Could he be a sleeper @ 24 years of age ?

  • oilerjed

    Jonathon Wiilis,

    What is the chance that Yakimov takes the choice away from MacT and shows that he is way more ready the Draisytl(sp?) for the 2/3c position?? I know there may be some adjustment to smaller rinks but maybe not?