Dillon Simpson’s progress from freshman through senior at North Dakota has been impressive. The Oilers draft choice will graduate this spring as a complete defenseman and a top pairing player for UND. Where will he fit in with the Oilers? How long will it take for him to be NHL ready?
Usually, four years of college prepares a player for the NHL a little better than 2 years (after draft) of junior hockey. A lot of that comes from being more mature (four years versus two), but Simpson is 20 years old and in his senior year (he’ll turn 21 around Valentine’s Day).
Recent Oiler prospects who have come the college route took little time to reach the NHL:
- Jeff Petry: 41 AHL games before NHL arrival
- Tom Gilbert: 48 AHL games before NHL arrival
- Tom Poti: 0 AHL games before NHL arrival
This of course is miles shorter than most junior grads, but we have to keep in mind that most of the college men arrive in pro hockey when they’re early 20’s. Gilbert was 23, Petry 22 when they arrived in the NHL. Simpson, should he play in the NHL next season, would be 21.
WHERE DOES HE FIT ON THE PROSPECT DEPTH CHART?
In September, I had him #7 on the prospect depth chart, and behind defenders Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat. When he signs (and that’s not done yet, obviously) he will also have to deal with men like David Musil, Taylor Fedun and Brandon Davidson in order to get to the NHL.
HOW GOOD IS HE?
Coach Dave Hakstol: "He’s only 20 years old, we have freshmen older than him. But it’s really not about the date on your birth certificate, it’s about your level of maturity and your life experiences, your mindset and your ability to be consistent and accountable and do things the right way. I think Dillon is at the highest level of those areas."
Simpson’s consistent play and calm feet, along with his willingness to sell-out to make the play (there are 22 million results for "Dillon Simpson shot blocking") suggests he might be a nice complement to all these chaos puck movers who are about to move into the Oilers blue.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers have to sign Simpson, and that’s not a slam dunk. The Stu MacGregor scouting team clearly drafted a guy in the fourth round who is performing at a very high level. Chances are Edmonton will have to pay a handsome bonus, and then there’s the matter of making certain the young man doesn’t shy away from the young depth chart ala Riley Nash.
I don’t really believe Dillon Simpson is about shying away from anything. His UND career suggests quite the opposite.