What happens if Aaron Ekblad falls to the Oilers?


The Edmonton Oilers don’t really need defensive prospects – the organizational cupboard is loaded there. But if Aaron Ekblad, a potential franchise defenceman, falls to the team in the No. 3 slot at this summer’s draft, it’s going to be awfully hard for the club to pick somebody else.

How would the addition of Ekblad impact the rest of Edmonton’s summer planning?

Ekblad + the Current NHL Depth Chart


The Oilers have five defencemen we can be reasonably confident will return for next season. Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry are the only locks on the right side, while on the left side Andrew Ference, Martin Marincin and probably Oscar Klefbom (over Darnell Nurse) are tagged for NHL jobs.

Ekblad, variably listed at 6’3” or 6’4” and over 210 pounds, is a do-everything defenceman with a right-handed shot who plays on the right side, so there probably isn’t a lot of concern about him being physically ready for NHL duty and there’s a natural home for him on the starboard half of the third pairing if he makes the jump immediately.

There’s an awful lot of green in that mix, though: three guys with less than a full season of experience, plus Schultz, plus Petry. Presumably Petry and Marincin would be reunited, after which the Oilers would have the option of going with a veteran (Ference/Schultz) and a rookie (Klefbom/Ekblad) pairing or splitting the two (Ference with Ekblad, Schultz with Klefbom).

None of that says ‘playoff calibre defence,’ which is why the GM might look at another option. 


Craig MacTavish9

If the Oilers draft Ekblad, they’re looking at adding a minimum of four rookie defencemen in a span of two-to-three seasons: Ekblad, Nurse, Klefbom, Marincin and whoever sneaks through from a pretty good group of second-tier prospects (Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat, David Musil, Brandon Davidson).

Delaying Ekblad for a season is a possibility that doesn’t help much in that regard; it would just mean the Oilers breaking in Nurse and Ekblad together in 2015-16.

When Craig MacTavish said “if we have to go young, we go young” with respect to the defence corps he was being pressured by two realities – the first (widely acknowledged) that it’s difficult to add impact defencemen and the second (less so) that at some point the Oilers are going to absorb the NHL learning curve of a lot of young defenders.

The longer those players get to develop outside the NHL, the less stressful that learning curve is going to be, but it’s difficult to imagine a scenario (other than collapse on the part of the players) where Ekblad/Nurse are held outside the NHL longer than 2015-16.

Pushed Out


It already seems entirely plausible that at some point in the not too distant future, one of the Oilers’ young up-and-coming defencemen will be cashed in for immediate help. The addition of Ekblad would make that even more likely (as would a trade of the No. 3 pick for someone like Griffin Reinhart).

Who would go? Probably the low man on the draft pedigree totem pole. Marincin consistently lags behind Klefbom in the public comments made by the general manager, and presumably he falls well below not only the Swedish rookie but also back of Nurse and Ekblad, our hypothetical addition.

Marincin’s already presumably in significant danger, as he’s competing with Nurse and Klefbom for a job on the left side of the defence. The addition of another young defenceman would probably seal his fate, as it would exacerbate Edmonton’s need to simultaneously acquire and clear a spot for a veteran, two moves that a Marincin trade could bring about in one transaction. 


    • Zarny

      Chocolate and donuts? Umm sorry but no elite athlete bulks up with garbage food. Try steak, chicken breast and protein shakes unless you want him to look like Bubba Byfuglien.

      And if there is one thing Marincin should listen to Eakins about it’s off-season training. He’s a Gary Roberts vintage and one of the only reasons Eakins had a cup of coffee in the NHL was that he’s a fitness freak.

  • Zarny

    There is no successful reality where the Oilers bring in 4 rookie D over 2 years. Young players make mistakes and struggle with consistency. That’s why contenders are built around 24-30 y/o. We’ve seen first-hand the disaster of young players not having veteran support on F. To repeat such folly on D would be the definition of insanity.

    If Ekblad is available the Oilers have 2 paths they can follow to success.

    Plan A should be to trade the pick (Ekblad) with very specific criteria. I would force David Poile to utter the words “Shea Weber is not available”. I would ask Stan Bowman about his succession plan involving Seabrook and Keith. I would send Marc Bergevin a video compilation of every instance PK Subban was showboating. I’d talk to Phx about OEL and I’d talk to several GM’s about some 1-2 C.

    Plan B would be to pick Ekblad as a bookend for Nurse. It would then be imperative to insulate them with veteran D in their prime. They can’t be expected to be 1-2 D for 3-4 years and the Oilers can’t wait. One of Marincin & Klefbom and one of Petry & Schultz would need to be traded for a Myers or Coburn etc. and/or packaged for a 2C.

  • misfit

    The year following the Kings’ drafting Doughty, they had the following defensemen play over 40 games for them:

    Sean O’Donnell (36) – 932GP
    Dennis Gauthier (31) – 489GP
    Matt Greene (25) – 151GP
    Jack Johnson (21) – 79GP
    Peter Harold (25) – 37GP
    Kyle Quincey (23) – 13GP
    Drew Doughty (18) – 0GP

    O’Donnell would only play one more season for LA after that, and Gauthier was out of hockey after the above season. They did add Rob Scuderi, but also another rookie in Alec Martinez.

    Next year’s Oilers D:

    Andrew Ference (35) – 831GP
    Jeff Petry (26) – 236GP
    Justin Schultz (24) – 122GP
    Martin Marincin (22) – 44GP
    Oscar Klefbom (21) – 17GP
    Aaron Ekblad (18) – 0GP

    I’d have to think the Oilers would be adding at least one veteran guy to address depth, preferably at the top of the depth chart, but someone to at least push Klefbom or Marincin to the AHL as the first call-up for the inevitable injuries that occur.

    • #ThereGoesTheOilers

      Funny point of view to have when so many of our former players (traded away for so little to show) are making such significant contributions in the playoffs as we speak.

      Team mismanagement does not = ineffective players.

    • Do what Weight did?

      Hmmm. Interesting article. It kind of makes me laugh when so many people post about how Katz doesn’t want to win, and that the solution is to boycott games/hit him in the wallet. We have a loser team, and an owner still willing to dump money into the team for player salaries.

      On the other hand, still, more evidence against KLowe.

        • Do what Weight did?

          Yeah, it sure looks that way from the outside, doesn’t it?

          As I see it, we’ll never know quite how the decision-making authority was split between 6rings and Dithers. Aside from the ‘tank it’ conspiracy theorists, we can all likely agree that Tambo’s was one (albeit disastrous) mistake. If Katz sees it as mostly Tambo’s fault (thus les KLowe’s) then it might explain why KLowe could get 1 more chance with a new GM.

          The time to replace Lowe was last summer, befor hiring a new GM. Since Lowe is back, with MacT, it tells me Katz most likely decided to give ol’ 6 rings his one (I pray last) more chance with a new GM. Once that decision is made, we’ll probably have to wait at least one more year, if not two, to see if Lowe got it right with MacT or not. I hope so – that we improve steadily over the next couple years. If not, then I can’t imagine Lowe surviving another cycle of futility.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Yes and no, overall, management of the Oilers is clueless.

      What I am finding our more and more is the Oilers fans are ignorant dreamers with no self confidence to stand up and speak out for better management.

      Let the “trash” button begin!!

    • Zarny

      LMAO…yeah the 80 pts in 75 games for Hall is a disaster. And 65 pts for Eberle? Complete train-wreck.

      You should probably actually read the Bloomberg article since you seem to have completely missed the point. It has nothing to do with “ruining players”.

      • vetinari

        Yeah, you work for the worst organization in any field and you think this helps the players. Hall would be a much better player with a better organization

          • Zarny

            Straw man argument . Working for a horrible organization , workers do not thrive. You want to change the facts to support your conclusion but reality is this is the team. If the best players in the world were on the Oilers Hall would be better. 1+1 =2

          • Sure from what I’ve read it seems like the argument is “the organization kills players because they dont get good players” and then “the players would be better if you gave them better players”

            Then theres other minor details that make both sides mad

          • Zarny


            First, the Bloomberg article had nothing to do with “ruining players”. Hence my comment that Jeffff should actually read the article.

            Second, the Oilers don’t “kill” players. See Hall , Eberle and Nuge. Hockey however, is a team game. The holes in the kids’ games would be drastically mitigated if they ever stepped on the ice with a D pair that actually belonged playing against top NHL lines or they had a 2nd line that could actually be effective.

            If that wasn’t the case TB wouldn’t have finished 28th last year with the top 2 scorers in the league. And Pit would have won more than 1 Cup in the last 8 years with Crosby and Malkin.

          • Cold Hard Truth

            There is something to the ‘ruining players’ argument.

            As you pointed out, the holes in the lineup undoubtedly effect the play of the Oilers’ high-end talent (Hall, RNH, Eberle). And with all the losing that has resulted in the various holes in the lineup, it’s not a stretch to suggest that it has stunted, or at the very least has not been helpful to the kids’ development. The holes in the lineup (i.e. no defence, no centre depth) is the result of poor management. So yes, in a way the organization has ‘ruined’ the players.

            Even with their high point totals, the young core is atrocious at their defensive game. This is a result of poor development/coaching, which in turn is a management issue.

            The Oilers have a knack for taking what is considered an asset and depreciating it as it goes through the system. A perfect example is Yakupov. He was the first overall pick and could have fetched a large return if the Oilers had traded him. Now, his value has plummeted.

            It will be the same for whoever the Oilers draft this year.

    • Rick Stroppel


      This article appeared in “Bloomberg Businessweek”. These people have no reason to slant anything. The criteria is not just success, it is the VALUE the team achieves in results based on the money spent. Edmonton ranks SECOND LAST amoung the 122 teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.

      I have previously suggested that the Oilers were, objectively speaking, amoung the worst franchises in NA professional sport, along with teams like the Cleveland Browns, Houston Astros and Minnesota Timberwolves.

      And our sporting press tells us, basically, that everything is “right on schedule” and we need to be “patient”. Since when is missing the playoffs eight years in a row and going from 24th to 28th place overall “progress”?

      And the arrogant, incompetent jackasses who run the team just keep rolling along. They know a little bit about winning. Half the teams in the league would trade their roster for ours. If ever there’s a concern. Etc.

      • vetinari

        The results are based on the last 5 years imagine if they did it for the last 8 years. I’m sure Oilers would have won the crown of the worst run team in professional sports.

        Now I understand KLowe winning.

  • Oh man, if Ekblad is available at 3,i will donate a kidney. OK, probably not… But I just don’t see Ekblad going anything but #1… #2 at worst. I would be elated if he fell to 3 though. I don’t care what this team has in the cupboatds
    . They don’t have a complete D man, so adding that to our stockpile would be amazing.

    The Oilers will have to consider moving some players for a solid veteran no matter what happens at the draft though. Going all youth again is asking for disaster.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Why trade players before there true value is known or achieved? Its selling low on Marincin at this point. Marincin right now looks as good or better then Klefbom. Maybe Klefbom will be better? But thats not the point. Marincin right now is a solid 2nd pairing D. Everyone goes crazy over Brayden Coburn who is a 2nd pairing D or a just ok 1st pairing D and we want to sell the farm for him. Just makes no sense at this point. Bring Marincin, Klefbom, Ekblad, and Nurse to camp. Take the top 3 Top performers in preseason to start on the club and send the other one to Junior or OKC depending on who its is. Match Petry, Shultz and a veteran D that MacT(MUST!) pick up in the off season to play with those 3 and you have 3 pairings. If by the trade deadline someone comes knocking reassess at that point. But at least you will have a better idea of his value.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Eckblad Bennett Reinhart

    On All lists rank between 1-3

    Drasiatl ranked 4,4,4,6 right from oilers website. I’m not a genius or anything but you gotta take the guys that CSS, ISS, Redline, button and Mckenizie put out. Take BPA no doubt. Draisatl shouldn’t even be in the discussion, no other draft pick should be we pick 3rd not 4/5.

    Any of those three will do and one has to be available. I choose Eckblad first but we also need a center.

    Don’t move Marincin hes going to be real good, makes no sense to move an actual NHL player because we might have someone better in the future. Move some of those second tier defense with “potential” if we don’t have room for them. Let Nurse and Klefbom develop longer. Ference contract is only 2 more years….

  • Neilio

    You take Ekblad and laugh all the way to the bank. Marincin, Klefbom, maybe even Nurse and all the others will likely not be as good as Ekblad. Sure there is lots of rookie blue, but thats blue chip talent. Thats a nice problem to have. The fact that Petry and Schultz are not merely the only RHD locks on the roster for next year, they are probably the only ones left in the system, is something that worries me. Larsen and Fedun are the only other options, RFA and UFA respectively. People say our center depth is bad. Look at the right side defence. We don’t even like what we have left!
    Anyway, the draft is about getting talent into your system. Nobody we draft is going to help this team win for years after you get them despite the high hopes. We have proven that, without a doubt, year after year.

    • Zarny

      And yet if Ekblad was in last year’s draft he might have been ranked below Nurse given his even strength numbers lag Darnell’s.

      That’s something many seem to miss. No one in this draft is considered exceptional. If they were in last year’s draft no one likely goes top 5 . Ekblad isn’t considered to be the next Drew Doughty. Maybe Victor Hedman but he could also be Adam Larsson. He’s the best D in the draft but so were Larsson and Gudbranson. Ryan Murray was considered the best D in 2012. Hampus Lindholm and Olli Maatta have both been better so far.

  • Spydyr

    It’s simple. Draft Bennett. Allow our d to develop and in a couple years we should be able to make some noise. Need to add solid grinders in the meantime.

  • CMG30

    Agreed, If Ekblad falls to the Oilers they need to take him. He would then be the BPA.

    On a side tangent:
    It seems like teams and GM’s have tunnel vision when it comes to prospects. They draft someone and it almost seems a lock that those players will be on the team regardless that some of those players are consistently outplayed by ‘nobodies’.

    The Oilers would be much better if training camp ended with the top preforming players being on the team instead of the players that management thinks have the most ‘potential’.

    So they have more ‘potential’ or a ‘higher ceiling’ or whatever we’re calling it these days. Let them develop that potential in the minors and when the time comes that they’re actually better than the others then they can be on the team. A player should not be able to have an NHL career based solely on being drafted in the first round.

  • Rick Stroppel

    There is no questioning the fact that Ekblad is a high quality prospect and that he would be a good addition to the Oilers. The real question, however, is “Is he the best possible addition from this draft group?’

    While the Oilers need a dominant first pairing D man, they also desparately need a #1 or #2C. I am a real fan of RNH and believe he will develop into a top tier #1 or #2 Centre. He shows a commitment to defense which is rare in a player with his talent. A question I ask myself is whether he is better suited as a #1 or #2 Centre.

    If he is better suited as a #2C then the Oilers have a chance to obtain a quality #1 Centre at this draft in the person of Reinhart or Draisaitl (possibly Bennett). A combination of either of those players with RNH playing in the #2 slot would give the Oilers incredible strength down the middle and bode well for their success for years to come.

    There is no question this years draft will be pivotal in the future of the Oilers. I look forward to seeing how MacT wends his way through the maze that is the draft and free agency.

    • Zarny

      True, but while Edm contemplates drafting a top-pairing D Col doesn’t have to because they sent a young prospect in Shattenkirk to acquire a former #1 D who is now 25 and a stud.

      After Pit drafted Crosby, Malkin and Staal Shero has focused their 1st round picks on D: Derrick Pouliot, Olli Maatta, Joe Morrow and Simon Despres. Maatta has made the team. Joe Morrow was traded for Brendan Morrow. There are consistent rumors both Pouliot and Despres will be moved too.

      After drafting Drew Doughty the Kings traded Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter and a Stanley Cup.

      You can also add that no team has ever won with a D core anchored by 22 y/o.

    • Very true.

      On the other hand, the rebuild has to end sometime, and entering 2015-16 with Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin on the left side and Schultz and Ekblad on the right seems like a pretty good way to finish outside the playoffs again (unless we see massive leaps by Klefbom, Marincin and Schultz in 2014-15).

      Marincin’s an excellent player. But somewhere along the way here the Oilers are going to be forced to make sacrifices to speed the process along and he’s the guy who doesn’t have draft pedigree and hasn’t spent the last year getting talked up by the GM.

  • Gordie Wayne

    Oilers fans have convinced themselves that Ekblad is already a Norris trophy winner. They need good news so badly that they have deluded themselves

    As far as trading the pick for Reinhart Griffith that would be a mistake, he is a slow skater and will have huge problems in the NHL. Oilers already have slow D-men in the AHL.

  • Zarny

    The cupboardis full of defense prospects right now. We need some size at center or even on the wing…Dal Colle..Ekblad may be that stud defender or he may be Cam Barker..Imagine if Ekblad falls to us and we had drafted Nichuskin. Our Second line of Nich, Statsny and Yak..then Ekblad in Nurses place..oh well gotta go get that crytlal Ball…

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Using the Oilers past history as a metric, I would say the “cupboard” is full of overhyped talent that will “mature” and flourish on another team.

      Fire Lowe

  • Gordie Wayne

    Trade yak and Marincin for the first. Draft Eckblad and then with the number 3 take either Rienhart or Bennett. Very young but solid D and first second lines for years to come.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Amen brother.

      Oiler have very little going on that right side blueliner spot. Ekblad is the best possible start. Even though Dillon Simpson shots left, he also prefers to play that right side. Simpson will also see considerable NHL time this coming season.

  • Gordie Wayne

    Oh, and my second choice in this draft is Leon Draisatl. I know alot of people are going ga-ga for Bennett right now because of his “truculence” and his “grit” but when you watch Draisaitl, you can see that big C the Oilers have been needing for years. This guy has a great shot, and his vision is incredible. The passes he makes are crazy…I can see Yak just sniping one-timers all day long with this guy setting him up. And the way he goes to the net is incredible, so strong and protects the puck so well, this guy is a future star.

  • Gordie Wayne

    So MacT has been speaking more bullishly on Klefbom than Marancin? Jeez JW, I know Klefbom’s a high draft but Marancin really showed some ability this year. His skating, wingspan, and puck mobility look pretty good from where I sit. How good could this guy be at 27( Age of maturity for defensemen)? I’d say the answer is pretty damn good, and approaching Top 4 on a good team.
    Hopefully Klefbom pans out, but that was a a very small sample size for him and I’m not sold yet. As the Travelling Willbury’s would say, MacT needs to handle with care.

  • Gordie Wayne

    Last night I spent a couple hours watching youtube videos of Bennett, Reinhart, Draisaitl, and Ekblad. After watching them, it is obvious to me that Ekblad is the top of this draft…I am always agianst taking a defenceman over a forward early in the draft, but not this year.

    Ekblad is a beast and in my opinion a sure-fire future #1 defenceman. He is the 1st defenceman to receive exceptional status as a 15 year old in the OHL, and he is just an amazing all around defenceman. Great size, great shot, excellent vision, great leader, this guy is a future NHL captain.

    How often do the Oilers get a shot at a #1 defenceman (in the draft, in UFA, in trades)? This is the Oilers chance, and I think they should take it.