GDB 64.0: Shaping the Defence

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If the Oilers are going to improve in the coming seasons, it has to start on the blueline. They need a develop a top-pairing D-man, rather than rely on the very low possibility they will be able to trade for one. Unless a team is in a financial crunch, or a complete rebuild, I don’t see a reason why they would move a legitimate top-pairing defender.

So that leaves the Oilers in the dubious position of needing to wait until Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse emerge as a top-pair defender.

Make no mistake: the Oilers blueline got worse by trading Jeff Petry. Petry is not a top-pair defender, and despite many suggesting he will command $5 million/year in free agency, I don’t see that happening. I think $4.5 will be his max, but I’d expect his salary to be lower, unless he plays exceptionally well with the Canadiens.

Petry wanted a chance to play in the playoffs, Craig MacTavish told us yesterday, and Petry will get his wish with the Canadiens. How he performs there will have a strong impact on his salary in the summer. I fall right in the middle when evaluating Petry. Many fans of analytics love Petry and believe he is very solid, while others think he has no value.

For me, he is a capable NHL D-man, a solid #4/5, but he has some warts to his game. He is an excellent skater, decent passer, has a very good shot (but doesn’t use it nearly often enough), and he can close the gap well when opposing forwards are on the rush. My concern is his consistency, his intensity and competitiveness. Too often I’ve seen him stand beside a guy in front of the net and not match the battle level of his opponent.

The Oilers blueline is simply not good enough to lose him for draft picks, but the Oilers put themselves in the position where Petry had all the power and they had no choice but to trade him. The picks they receive from Montreal might help them in four years, but remember that it will likely be six or seven seasons before that second round pick is as polished as Petry; if that pick even develops into an NHL player.

SO WHAT NOW?

Klefbom is getting better every day, and Martin Marincin has shown the light went off and he’s learned he needs to be involved in the battle more in his own zone. Those are the two positives for the Oilers. Justin Schultz has looked better paired with Klefbom, and been given mainly offensive zone starts, but my concern with Schultz is the same worry I had with Tom Gilbert and Petry: is he capable of raising his intensity in the tough areas of the ice? Right now, I see Schultz being used properly 5×5, someone who can help your PP, but isn’t ready to play tough minutes.

Mark Fayne is best suited to play the difficult 5×5 minutes. He did it in New Jersey and was quite successful. He is a pure defensive D-man, and if they can find a good, strong, physical puckmover to play with him then they could have a decent shut down pair. Klefbom would be the best bet to do that, but it seems for now the organization wants to keep him with Schultz. Marincin and Fayne should be paired together the rest of the way, and Marincin has shown more competitiveness entering battles lately which was the only concern in his game. His puck skills are good. He is still young and he could emerge as the guy capable of playing those minutes with Fayne.

QUICK HITS…

  • I heard two different trains of thought from MacTavish yesterday. He was cautious of the overall potential of his defence core. “I am reasonably comfortable going forward with Oscar, Justin, Nikita, Andrew and Mark Fayne moving forward,” he said. It irked some that he didn’t include Marincin, but I think it was more a case of him having a momentary memory lapse, which is why he used both of Fayne’s names. I actually saw it as a positive for him to calmly, without any over promises, discuss his D core. As I sat listening to him, I thought he’s learned from how he publicly challenged/questioned Dubnyk and Petry and was just going to stay neutral and not overestimate their ability. I know they aren’t sexy quotes, but the GM should say he supports his players, without overrating them, even if privately he doesn’t.
  • However, a few minutes later he fell into his old habit of overstating the value of his players. “Nikitin is a top-four NHL defenceman,” he said. What concerns me is that he believes this, similar to that he believed Schultz had Norris Trophy potential. He is not a second pairing defender on a good team, but if the Oilers believe he is then their team won’t be that good. And if they think he is a top-four defender, then I’d be worried about which D-men they will target in the summer. If they can’t properly evaluate their own players, then it is fair to wonder if they will accurately evaluate free agents or potential trade candidates.
  • What bothered me even more, however, was the fact that Nikitin didn’t come to camp in great shape. “He started off slowly, I don’t think he was in the best shape. He was getting into shape and playing better,” said MacTavish.

    That is downright embarrassing and I would not want that guy on my team. If he isn’t committed to his teammates, then he’s worthless. He signs the biggest contract of his career on a new team, and he rewards the organization and his teammates by showing up out of shape. Disgusting. I’d buy him out in a heartbeat this summer. Send a message it is not acceptable to disrespect your teammates. All of them put in the hard work in the summer, but he didn’t.

  • If the organization deems that acceptable then they will never improve. He wasn’t a rookie or a sophomore, he was 28 years old and he couldn’t muster up enough internal drive to be in proper physical conditioning at training camp. And this is someone you claim is a top-four defender? Niktin is not good enough to be showing up out of shape, and he is not a glue guy in the room. There is no reason to bring him back, other than sheer stubbornness of not wanting to admit you made a bad signing, or grossly overrating his ability.
  • I hope you take a moment to read this. Every person reading this site should read this story. A warning some of the language is not appropriate for kids under 15. This is much more bothersome than who is a top-four D-man, and I’m guessing it will strike a much deeper nerve with you.

LINEUP…

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The Oilers have 12 healthy forwards, and they only have one recall option left, so I don’t see them changing their forwards until
Anton Lander or Taylor Hall returns. I expect them to use their final
recall on Brandon Davidson, unless another forward gets injured before
Lander and Hall can return.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 12.52.03 PM

Jordan Oesterle will take
Petry’s spot beside Andrew Ference, and that is a significant drop off. I
expect Fayne/Marincin to see more icetime now that Petry is gone.

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Scrivens starts, and I see him playing the majority of games the rest of the way.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From the Royal Half

As the LA Kings face-off against the Edmonton Oilers tonight, they only need to look back to their last game in 2014 to pinpoint how frustrating this season has been for their fans.

In fact, that game was so frustrating that I’m pretty sure this is the first time that particular game is being referenced on the site.

The Kings lost to the Oilers 3-2 in a shootout that night.

It happens, right?

Well, for the Oilers, not really.

The Oilers have played 38 games against Western Conference opponents so far this season.

They have won a grand total of five of those games.

TONIGHT….

Waiting

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings have lost three straight, after winning eight in a row. They desperately need the two points and pick up a close 3-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings big, strong forwards give the Oilers fits below the harsmarks in the offensive zone.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oesterle picks up a point in his third NHL game, which leads some to wonder if he could be a regular next year. Please don’t think he should be. Let him keep developing in the minors.

Recently by Jason Gregor:         

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  • toprightcorner

    Pretty sick what some people will say behind the shelter of a computer. Gutless cowards is what they are.

    As for tonight, nothing to see here. Or for the rest of the season for that matter. It gets harder and harder to care about these games as we play out the string.

  • Hemmercules

    I like how Mact keeps mentioning Nikitin being out of shape but just brushes it off like that sort of thing happens and its not a huge deal because he will be back next year ready to play top 4. The guy can’t admit his mistakes and he overvalues his assets unless he’s trading them away.

    I love the Oilers but I hate the Oilers, if that makes any sense? I think I have actually started to love hating the Oilers. Its just so easy to laugh at these guys, Mact especially. His quotes always bite him in the ass, he’s totally delusional when it comes to certain players, he says one thing and does the other and he makes crazy gambles that never pay off. The bosses hide away in their fortress of solitude and poke their heads out every so often to piss everyone off with a quote or letter. I do miss that sweet cup-run feeling though, nothing like it.

    How killer would that be if Mact was just short selling himself for the summer and ends up making a blockbuster trade and a huge UFA signing. That or a management clearout, i would take either at this point.

    • I think the most frustrating thing for me personally, is watching other NHL organization’s with god-awful management actual do something about it(example Gillis in Van, Feaster in Calgary, Howson in… forget that last one) while Oil fans are forced to accept the incompetence of these ass-clowns who are notorious for absolute failure, year, after year, after year. It’s like a hamster wheel of failure that never stops turning!!!

      • Hemmercules

        I think I have just resorted to laughing at the situation after being frustrated for too long. I honestly don’t know how Katz could show his face amongst other NHL owners at this point. Just embarrassing that he lets these guys keep doing what they are doing.

  • toprightcorner

    The tweets shown on the Shilling post are certainly despicable. But how is putting these tweets on his blog protecting his daughter? He seems to be throwing fuel on the fire. I think he could have addressed the situation in a much more sensitive (to his daughter)manner.

    • toprightcorner

      I would say it does add fuel to the fire, but it also exposes these guys and makes them and others see they can’t just say what they want because internet. That there are consequences to these actions. It’s not like as a Dad he can actually go over and beat them up, but he definitely makes it known that he could because he knows where they live. Cost benefit,if even half of these guys stop this behavior because they realize how terrible they are and how it affects them and others, then maybe some other person out there doesn’t have to go through this sort of thing, and in my opinion, that’s a win.

    • A-Mc

      It’s a hard judgement call between ignoring a problem as to not empower it, and exposing a problem because it’s just that disgusting.

      The narrative is that social media is used to cyber bully innocent people and is therefore dangerous but the flipside to this is that social media exposes a persons warts and imprints them in history indefinitely.

      When the craziness hits critical mass, people will be forced to think before they text/tweet. We’re just not there yet.

    • Hemmercules

      Haha. Although Mact does support Nikitin quite a bit (for whatever reason?) that would be too over the top even for the Oilers. Watch though, Nikitin will show up in the best shape of his life, play over his head all season, earn another payday and then get fat again.

      I’m surprised Howsen doesn’t catch more flack from the Nikitin signing. You would think he played a large part in that although Mact ultimately makes the deal. MacT is probably waiting until he gets fired to throw Howsen under the bus for that one.

  • A-Mc

    At the next Oiler Presser, when asked about Nikita Nikitins declined play and possible contract extension over the summer, Mac T comments:

    “I’m here so i don’t get fined”

  • Spoils

    The idea that you can’t get great D from a trade is garbage. Pronger was moved to Edmonton and out of Edmonton. Yandle just moved yesterday. Jack Johnson was traded, Paul Coffey was traded, Larry Murphy was traded, Chara was traded…

    Even if it had never happened (which it has), then the Oilers need to make it happen.

    Any draft pick now is going to take 4 years to develop.

    I dearly hope Klefbom and Nurse live up to their WJC performances, but even if we did bet the farm on them, that is only 2 guys.

    Justin Schultz is 24.

    You know who else is 24?

    Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson, Alex Pietrangelo, Ekman-Larsson (23)…

    Schultz might get a bit better, but he is NOT winning a Norris and guiding us to a Stanley Cup as a top pairing D. It isn’t his fault MacT dumped that on his shoulders.

    soooo sorry but we need to make a trade. and MGT needs to WAKE UP to that.

    • YFC Prez

      I love these types of comments, how about you address why Chris Pronger was traded so often (two because of potential personal issues, one because his team was about to go tits up financially and he was the only one of value they could shed). Tell me what did LA get for Jack Johnson (who is not an elite d man). Chara went to free agency but was also traded because of a stupid owner that wanted Yashin. I am not addressing Yandle because he sure in the hell is not a top pairing D man.

      I also love how you cherry picked we will say two great and two very good d men d men which were traded in 2001 and 2005/6 on traded in the 90’s and one in the 80’s but hey it happens I guess. If you think Pietrangelo, Doughty, Keith, Ekman Larsen, Karlson, etc are getting traded then you need to quit drinking so early in the day. Do you know how you get an elite d man – YOU DEVELOP THEM. I am actually going to pose the question to you, tell me if you have one of these d men why the hell would you trade them ? let’s hear it

      • Spoils

        so let’s talk about this a little.

        Everybody knows why Pronger was traded, but he was traded, and you can’t argue what he brought to teams. Jack Johnson was perceived to be elite, and he yielded Jeff Carter (big reason they won the cup)… etc

        doesn’t happen often, but quality D can be moved.

        e.g. so let’s talk about StL – Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk. Maybe they could be convinced to move Shattenkirk for the right puzzle pieces. Maybe this summer after another early exit from the playoffs they will be interested (I am not saying the Oilers have that piece)

        also – you don’t have to go after a fully formed guy. you can roll the dice a little and go after a younger guy (sorry but I’m obsessed with Seth Jones).

        you need MGT to be good at their jobs – find teams that are not making or succeeding in the playoffs, have cap problems, have a glut of good D, have players that aren’t fitting in, could be wooed by a shiny object (yashin) etc.

        We are working on Nurse and Klefbom and that’s great. I simply argue there is a mix of assets that can be moved for top pairing D, and we need to find the target and make the trade.

        What we have now will not be enough. what we could develop will come too late for the assets we have now.

  • bazmagoo

    For some reason I think Nikitin will actually do alright next season. The fact that he will be a UFA in the off season of 2016 – 2017 will motivate him to succeed next season. Only hope MacT/Lowe/Howson trade him next deadline and get a return similar to Petry and don’t resign the bum. LA 5 – Oilers 4.

  • Craig1981

    I would love to see a whole article on the Shilling thing……I think many can learn from it.

    I’m a big fan of “Shock humor” but my two rules are never to insult someone’s daughter and no never demean women……clearly these rules are lost on many.

    • vetinari

      HYPOCRISY

      Apparently most people at ON never heard of your “rules”. About this time last year a number of posters were trashing the Oilers Octane girls. I thought some of the comments were in very poor taste (and totally irrelevant to hockey). The posters made the comments, the moderators allowed them, and most of these comments got more cheers than trashes.

  • YFC Prez

    The link to the article about the athletes cyber bullying a mans daughter that Jason left above really did strike a nerve with me. The timing is very strange as Amanda Todds mother was in my community very recently speaking about the effects of cyber bullying. I imagine most, if not all of you know her story, but if not her video is on youtube. And it’s hearybreaking ( FYI ).

    I’m glad to see people being held accountable for what they say online. I have always felt that weather you speak through a keyboard or directly to someone’s face should not make a difference in the way we communicate with each other.
    Emotions are felt the same through social media as they are in a classroom, especially for teenagers who are still developing emotionally. And when you dileberatly torment anyone on line or in person there should be consequences.

    Cyber bullying has very real effects. It needs to be dealt with and its consequences need to be brought to light.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I grow tired of these advanced stat guys they think they have a higher understanding, and it is their go to tool. They are somewhat useful for a fan but for a GM or scout or coach they should just confirm what they already should know.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Hey all, new member.
    What’s with all the love for Petry. He infuriated me endlessly with his soft play around our net.The biggest difference between the Glen Sather Era oilers and the current KLowe/MacT brand is that the current management has decided speed and toughness is no longer necessary.outside the top 6, we’re slow and don’t hit with nasty intentions

    • YFC Prez

      Hello mr new member.

      Here’s my take. Petry was and is a little soft in his own zone at times, and he turned the puck over fairly often ( reason being he handles the puck more than the other oilers D). Those were his hiccups.

      What I liked about him was his skating, best skating d-man in the system and that can only be disputed by Schultz,, he can make a first pass out better than any other oiler D-man. He has a fairly heavy body check when used and a good shot.

      More importantly he elevates his partners game. Any d-man that’s been playing well the past couple seasons has usually been doing so along side Petry. There’s a article pointing this out recently here at the nation.

      Basically he’s not perfect but is a half decent second pairing d-man. And sadly on the oilers that made him the best we had. A player than our weak d corps couldn’t afford to lose.

      As far as the oilers top 6. I disagree. They are not slow, definetly lack toughness but speed isn’t really an issue.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I feel strongly KLowe and Mac have built a team modeled like they played. Not fast, not hard hitters, but great in the dressing room. We need a Messier style team

  • nuge2drai

    Best case scenario…

    Seabrook for Pens 1st, two 2nds, two 3rds…

    Seabrook Fayne

    Klefbom Shultz

    Nikitan Ference

    Nurse

    If the Hawks decide not to dump cap in Seabrook…. Sign Boychuk ….

    • nuge2drai

      Best case scenario Seabrook for 5th round pick and Nikitin

      Come on bro, you think you’re gonna get seabrook for a late 1st and a bunch of stabs in the dark? Be better than that

      First off, seabrook isn’t going anywhere, sharp or Hossa will be shipped out first

      Second, starting point would be the 1st oilers pick.

  • YFC Prez

    Flames fans looking at some score board watching hoping the Oiers can upset the Kings tonight…it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen in Loserville……unbelieveable how inept this team can be year in and year out…

  • R U Kidding Me!

    MORE HYPOCRISY

    On GDB 35.0, December 23 2014, post #33. Poster said this about a certain Oilers player:

    “…He gets paid millions to play hockey and has banged half the staff at Cactus Club.” That got 4 trashes, 27 cheers.

    Post #43, reply to post #33:

    “Only half the staff, [name of player] would have done them all and still scored a hat trick on the ice” That’s it, that’s the whole post. That got 3 trashes and 30 cheers.

    The moderators allowed these posts, they are still up.

    Wonder what a man would think about this if his wife, daughter or girlfriend worked at the Cactus club.

    • YFC Prez

      I’ve been a member on ON for 4 years now and had been lurking in the shadows for much longer than that.

      I can tell you that I have never seen anyone post anything on ON to the magnitude of the Shilling story above. There’s been many who have pushed the limits and been banned. And even if a couple comments slip through , there is no way it would go as far as it did in the story above.

      I’m not to sure where the Hypocrisy claims are coming from. Trash talk between hockey fans and complaining about oilers managers is not the same as a group of grown men bullying and saying completely vile things to a teenage girl.

      As far as the octane go. I have no opinion, my son adores them though.

      • The Last Big Bear

        FAIR ENOUGH

        I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. IMHO, the posts I cited were stupid and disrespectful, and the second one had nothing to do with hockey. These comments should have been edited out, and it is distressing that so many people cheered them.

        I am also bothered by the posts I have seen here saying or implying that certain Oilers players are using illicit drugs. Based on WHAT? What has that got to do with a hockey discussion? Those comments always get a lot of cheers, for some strange reason.

        Some people are being paid real money to run this blog. I am not impressed by the excuse that “a couple comments slip through”.

        Maybe some day Oilers hockey will be interesting enough that we will spend ALL our time here actually discussing hockey. Maybe.

      • The Last Big Bear

        I think you should go look at some of the comments on the Fantasy Update videos.

        You know, the ones hosted by a pretty girl.

        Oh wait, what’s that?

        None of those videos are open for comments, because right from the very first episode the comments immediately spiraled completely out of control and had to be disabled within a matter of hours?

        Yeah, this is a MAJOR problem on the Internet. Including here.

  • YFC Prez

    Mac-T you are walking a thin line. Thanks for trading away the only stability on the back end. The team was finally treading water, now the boat is sinking again. Don’t make anymore stupid moves or you’re gone… especially if you change the coach. bye bye

    • YFC Prez

      umm, he’s good friends with the teams owner and best friends with the POHO. I doubt he’s walking a thin line. Sure he sucks at his job, but his job security isn’t in any danger. This is the oilers you’re talking about. Nepotism runs this team

    • The Last Big Bear

      Yes we need D-men so we trade our best D man in Petry.
      Why were we not in on the Simon Depres trade?? Love joy for Despres?

      I’m sure we could have done something there to get him. MacT talked about getting someone more along in there career. We don’t have all the details but we never seem to be in the mix( Leddy, Boychuck and now this)

      Is it scouting or is MacT( Nakitin top 4 D, Schultz Nortis trophy potential) just that out of it or maybe both either way brutal management.

      If that’s the case I see no end to the misery

  • Hemmercules

    Hey Jason. Listened to monday and Tuesday’s show. At no point monday did Rishaug debate with you the merits of buying out Nikitin. Looks like a case of you putting words in another persons mouth. Well played.