One of my favorite things as a fan is to see a long shot arrive in the NHL. Brandon Davidson was a long shots long shot and yet he did in fact play in his first NHL game this year. His story is an inspiration on several levels.
ORIGINAL SCOUTING REPORTS…..
Davidson’s post-draft scouting reports weren’t sexy:
Mike Remmerde: Brandon Davidson / D: I usually like late bloomers who come
out of nowhere, but this guy’s skating bothers me too much. Has big
trouble with pivots. But he’s got really good hockey sense and is a very
good puck mover. Probably goes way higher than I like, but if somehow
he lasted until the 5th round, I might be interested.
He lasted until the sixth round and the Edmonton Oilers chose Davidson in 2010. Stu MacGregor after the draft: “We were looking for a puck mover,
and Davidson certain is that. We were surprised he was there, he’s a
talented kid. He did have an injury problem with a knee just after
Christmas; we feel he has a legitimate chance to be a solid guy for us
in our organization.”
TURNING PRO, OVERCOMING OBSTACLES
Sixth-round picks aren’t guaranteed NHL contracts, but Davidson earned one through his development in junior. He joined an Oilers organization that was adding blueliners at a rapid rate: In 2010, Edmonton drafted Martin Marincin, Jeremie Blain and Davidson; in 2011 it was Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Dillon Simpson and Martin Gernat. Added to the addition of college free agent Justin Schultz and it’s one big mountain to climb for a player like Davidson.
Davidson turned pro in the fall of 2012 and by November his entire world turned upside down.
Davidson: “It was an emotional thing. It was hard to get back
mentally and physically. The chemotherapy drained me physically. But to come back and even have the opportunity to play last year was
great, because I thought I was done for the year. It was great to come
back at the end of the year and prove that I belong. It was a good end
to the season for me personally, just being able to play so well.” Source
For fans like me, who know the story of Davidson missing an entire year of development as a kid, the young man passed from “player we’re interested in as a fanbase” to “this guy is absolutely a favorite” after he handled such a major life issue so well (and recovered so quickly). The development year story is available via Bruce McCurdy. Source
Davidson is 6.01 202 and can battle physically. He’s not a brilliant offensive defender but can make an effective pass and play at speed. He does have those calm feet coaching staffs are looking for and displayed all of the in his first NHL look-see in December.
He played four games before being sent down, was effective with all partners but Justin Schultz (Davidson had a 56.2 Corsi For 5×5 % without Schultz, 36.4% with him). I would be shocked if this is Davidson’s last chance in the NHL and would suggest he’s on the upswing in the organization.
COULD HE HAVE AN NHL CAREER?
Davidson has enough tools to be an everyday NHL defender. His first NHL taste was successful and his AHL coach just got the big league job—that’s a positive thing for all the players in OKC. Edmonton doesn’t have many defenders with complete skill sets so there will be a need for a consistent player who can penalty kill and be an effective 5×5 player.
The competition is insane, as the Oilers spent many of their 2010-11 draft picks on defensemen. Davidson made it to the NHL after Marincin and Klefbom and ahead of Simpson and the others. He is only the fourth player from Round 6 in 2010 to make the NHL, following Dalton Prout, Jesper Fast and Mark Stone.
Brandon Davidson is by far the most interesting story in that group and one of the best Oilers stories this season. His NHL dream arrived in spite of some very serious obstacles and that’s a wonderful story in a trying season.