David Musil’s recall gives us a clear indication about the Edmonton Oilers depth chart and the value management puts on each of their developing prospects. Good news for a few, bad news for many more.
THE CHOSEN ONES….
- Oscar Klefbom is a lock for major minutes in 2015-16, barring injury. He’s already playing monster minutes and has very little NHL experience. The Oilers are fully committed to him, we should assume the young Swede is part of the team for at least the rest of the decade, likely far beyond.
- Darnell Nurse will join Klefbom after (I’m assuming) a short audition in the AHL next season. He’ll spend little time walking the streets of Bakersfield and a smart bet would have him inside the top 4D by this time next year.
CALL ME MAYBE
- Martin Marincin has played about one-half of the last two seasons and there is both plenty to like and lots of room for improvement. I think the club would be wise to keep and develop him (Nelson has stated he’ll need to work on adding strength and be more aggressive) but they do have other options.
- Brad Hunt is an impact player in the AHL and looks like he could help the NHL power play. The difficulty comes in his defensive game and unlike many on this list, Hunt has no room to grow. I can see Nelson using him effectively 5×4 though.
- Brandon Davidson has looked effective from here, the young man appears to have a good combination of foot speed, grit, aggressiveness and awareness. He was a distant bell on draft day, wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him on the NHL roster this fall.
- Jordan Oesterle was impressive early and not so much late in his first NHL cup of coffee but he did show enough to establish himself as a legit NHL prospect. There are a lot of men vying for very few positions but the current GM brought him in and that has value.
- David Musil made his NHL debut last night, looked fine from here. He’s a big fellow and shouldn’t have much trouble handling himself down low and along the wall. He was very effective in his own zone as a junior, most suspected foot speed would keep him in the minors for years. This was just a quick audition but he looked good and earned another start from my point of view.
THE DISTANT BELLS
- Dillon Simpson is playing in the AHL and is a rookie pro, so describing him as a ‘distant bell’ pertains more to the time Edmonton has to see him (three-year entry level deal) than any kind of shortcoming on his part. I think he may end up being the best of the bunch not named Klefbom/Nurse but that’s based on exceptional improvement during his college career. Big brain, learns quickly. That’s a big item for a defenseman.
- Joey Laleggia will be auditioning for the role currently held by Justin Schultz in the NHL and Brad Hunt in the AHL. He might make Hunt obsolete as early as this fall but imo it would be a good idea to let Laleggia learn from an exceptional minor leaguer before casting him away.
- Ben Betker is a hulking defender, just signed and ready to begin his pro career. He is big and fast, which makes him very attractive to NHL teams. Betker’s resume is very similar to Matt Greene’s when he was the same age—not saying Betker is as good, only similar in type—and the Oilers love these player-types.
- Martin Gernat is the least likely in the group to make it to the NHL, although his fall from grace has been quick (implying a summer of training could get him back in the good books).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers have two blue chip options (Nurse, Klefbom) to go with Justin Schultz and Mark Fayne as long term options. I think the depth chart on MacT’s office whiteboard might look like this:
- Darnell Nurse
- Oscar Klefbom
- Martin Marincin
- Brandon Davidson
- Brad Hunt
- Jordan Oesterle
- David Musil
- Dillon Simpson
- Joey Laleggia
- Ben Betker
- Martin Gernat
The truth is that after No. 1 and 2 it’s open season for roster spots in the future. David Musil did himself a favor last night, now he just has to do it again and again.
(Photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)