Edmonton Oilers load up on aggressive defencemen at the 2015 Draft

The Edmonton Oilers walked away from the 2015 NHL Draft with fewer prospects than most expected after making a number of trades, but even so the team managed to add some depth to the organization, primarily on defence, with its later picks at the annual event.

Edmonton’s selections are as follow:

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  • No. 1 C Connor McDavid
  • No. 117 D Caleb Jones
  • No. 124 D Ethan Bear
  • No. 154 D John Marino
  • No. 208 G Miroslav Svoboda
  • No. 209 D Ziyat Paigin

After McDavid, there’s a link tying together the Oilers’ defence picks beyond just their position. Jones, Bear, Marino and Paigin all have something in common: competitiveness. Aside from Paigin, none of these guys are terribly big, but all of them rate well in terms of engaging physically with their opponents.

Jones, the younger brother of Nashville’s famous Seth, stands just 6’, but gets top marks for his competitiveness. Asked after being selected whether he played like his brother, Jones said that he did but quipped “I’m a little more of a physical and aggressive player than he is.” International Scouting Services (ISS) identify those as his best qualities, while also acknowledging that the player possesses a range of skills.

Like Jones, Bear is a guy with a lot of good points to his game but no really outstanding areas, save for his work ethic. ISS pegs “Intensity level” as the greatest strength in his game and their regional scout Mike MacPherson says that he “stands out for his compete level” and “works especially hard on the d side of the puck.”

Marino is another defenceman who is good at a lot of things, but again the standout quality is the way he engages. ISS praises his work ethic and regional scout Ed Harding says that he “plays hard” and has “very good” intensity.

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Paigin might be my favourite pick of the group. The 6’5” rearguard played in the KHL last year and plays what ISS describes as “an active, intense defensive game.” According to their write-up, the 20-year-old “thrives in physical play, likes to finish hits and mix it up along the wall.” The Oilers have gone back to Russia a fair bit in recent years, and appear to have done pretty well so far; it’s possible they landed a gem here.

Svoboda is the long non-defenceman of the group; he’s a big 20-year-old Czech goalie who showed well at the most recent World Juniors but is still very much a project.

Peter Chiarelli4

Not all of these picks will turn out for the Oilers; in fact, given where they were taken it is entirely possible that none of them will. Still, they do give us good insight into what Peter Chiarelli’s philosophy for the team will be. Edmonton didn’t spend the draft looking for Coke Machines, big players with marginal abilities in other areas; instead they drafted players who do a lot of things well but whose standout skills are things like work ethic, physical engagement and competitiveness.

It’s probably not a stretch to expect Edmonton’s NHL acquisitions to follow a similar pattern.


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  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Oilers screw themselves royally at the draft. The Eskimos not even close to being prepared for the opener.

    This weekend was so full of promise Friday afternoon 😉

  • hagar

    With what lack went for, there had to have been something PC could have thrown at the nucks to get him? I don’t understand why they didn’t get both lack and talbot? They are cheap as heck at 1.5 mill each.

    Would have been nice to play them both for the season before making offers on who to start.

  • camdog

    Only Oiler fans would bitch on the day we get the best player in the world,and the best goalie available.

    Anyone with a pulse could see Sweeney gave to Chiarelli. He had no intentions of letting the Oilers have Dougie Hamilton,and went as far as trading him,to make sure the Oilers couldn’t offer sheet him. Sweeney and Neely should be fired,for what they pulled on Friday. Clearly improving their team wasn’t the main priority,and that’s a real shame. So to the Oilers fans that are complaining,maybe take it easy for a bit. We could be the Bruins…

  • hagar

    I rather have 2 blue chip prospects in Ilya Samsonov (future number1 goalie) and Brandan Carlo (tough right handed shutdown dman) then a questionable Griffen Reinhart. MacT and Howson have there fingerprints all over this trade and why are they both still in this organization blows my mind

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I think Chia has figured out the Oilers do not have the size up front to compete with the big teams in the west,instead build a big agressive D to battle them. As long as the D can transition the puck to the skilled forwards efficiently I think it’s a good plan

  • BigMcD

    You know I get a little suspicious every time I hear the Oilers outbid others , but always end up losing and going to a lesser bid. Like everyone is against the Oilers and always expects more from us than others . I just don’t buy it most of the time , as it always seems fishy to me . Sounds to me like more fudged rhetoric than truth in a lot of them .

  • BigMcD

    Oilers D last year: with draft adds in list:

    Gryba 6’4″ 225lb 2.96 lb/in 75gm +11

    Aulie 6’6″ 222lb 2.85 Lb/in 31gm -3

    Reinhardt 6’4″ 217lb 2.86 lb/in 8gm +1

    Nikitin 6’4’217lb 2.86 lb/in 42gm -12

    Fayne 6’3″ 215lb 2.87 lb/in 74gm -21

    Davidson 6’2″ 214lb 2.89 lb/in 12gm -5

    klefbom 6’3″ 210lb 2.80 lb/in 60gm -20

    Paigan 6’6″ 209lb 2.67 lb/in

    Musil 6’4″ 207lb 2.72 lb/in 4gm -2

    Nurse 6’4″ 205lb 2.70 lb/in 2gm -2

    E. Bear 5’11” 200lb 2.82 lb/in

    C. Jones 5’11” 194lb 2.73 lb/in


    Maricin 6’4″ 203 lb 2.67 lb/in 41 gm -4

    Petry 6’3″ 198lb 2.64 lb/in 59 gm -25

    Schultz 6’2″ 196lb 2.65 lb/in 81gm -17

    Hunt 5’9″ 187lb 2.71 lb/in 11gm -6

    Ference 5’11” 184lb 2.59 lb/in 70 gm -17

    Jordon Oesterle 6’0″ 182lb 2.53 lb/in 6gm -4

  • BigMcD

    Looking on the bright side . We should have more offence with McDavid , and better goaltending with Talbot . Defence still looks subpar/suspect , however , and hopefully we see some better additions there in the coming weeks .

  • WTF2

    If PC keeps the core guys Hall,Nuge,Ebs and just signs a couple of free agents than in my opinion try and get Green, Shawn Mattius or Chris Stewart. Here’s what I think the lines could look like at the start of the season In my world…I would try and trade Nakitin,Percell,Ference for picks or players or a bag of pucks! I like Ference but 35 and declining. Percell is what the Oil don’t need…a good size forward that’ s hits nothing and Nakitin fn bum!!! Try and sign Green, Shawn Mattius and Chris Stewart. Right handed top 4 D-man and two big 3rd line guys that throw their body around and can put the puck in the net. So if I had my way this is what the team looks like nxt yr . Hall-Nuge-Ebs 2nd…Pouliot-McDavid-Yaks 3rd…Dri-Mattius-Stewart and 4th…Hen-Gordon-Klink. Leon down on the farm as top centre if he has a weak camp and preseason and Lander can go on left side. As for the D…Klefbom-Green 2nd…Reinhart-Shultz and 3rd…Nurse-Fayne and 7th D-man is Gryba but if we don ‘t get Green than everybody moves up one on the right side but we will get Green! and in goal Talbot. Everybody has their own opinion but what do you think Oil country? GO OIL GO

  • WTF2

    One thing to consider with Rienhart is that the islanders aren’t really known for developing defenseman. The oilers have some real quality coaching, Rienhart is a smart hockey player. Also I bet he apprentices under Fayne

    I’m betting they are trying to sign Schultz to a 3-4 year contract in the 3-3.5 per range and use him as a 3rd pairing and as a PP1 option.

    Trying to reason out our def, we are probably at:

    Klefbom TBA
    Fayne Rienhart
    Gryba Shultz

    Nitkinin and Ference on the way out. Nurse in the AHL

    • YFC Prez

      Reinhart was first class with the Oil kings. Everyone seems concerned about his 50 odd games played for the Sound tigers.

      Oiler fans should know well enough by now that players do regress from their mean when playing on a god awful team. The Sound tigers finished last in their conference last season and however bad they were they are even worse when Reinhart wasn’t in the lineup.

      If we take the time away from playing on one of the worst coached squads in the AHL and just focus on his junior career and his 9 games played for the isls he looks like just what the doctor ordered for this club. We need a shutdown d man that matches the ages of the core.

      By this time nezt season Reinhart will have played his way into the oilers core group.

      I also agree with you Fayne is the right guy for him. Fayne is also better than he was last year and the two of them will make for a very good shutdown unit. When’s the last time we had one of those?

    • Serious Gord

      Don’t think Shultz gets that length of contract…PC plays it safe with him and signs him to a one year deal at in that price range to see what he can do under the new coach TM and if he plays D like he did last yr then SEE YA!!!

      • Joy S. Lee

        You’d give Schultz a rich 3-4 year deal based on… what, exactly? Promise???

        That phase is over. His mulligans are spent. It’s show me time now. Edmonton and free money are things of the past. Your boy proves he belongs next year, or hits the open market the following.

        Nowhere else could he have gotten this kind of ice time for all of his follies. It’s put up or shut up time; but if he doesn’t even add the ability to – at the very least – play a little angry… he ain’t going to make it in this league as a defenseman. Big-league defensemen compete; very few are pacifists like Justin. Does he discourage opponents from taking physical liberties with his goalie or teammates? Hardly. Problem is, a smart opponent will attack such a vulnerability repeatedly. It’s a weakness that is hard to get around, unless he’s in a PP specialty role primarily.

        If Justin Schultz was an offensive dynamo, I might look past his pathetic defensive efforts; but he ain’t no offensive dynamo, at least not yet he sure isn’t. Forget 3-4 years. Let’s see if he’s a player this year, shall we?

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    I would consider the 2015 draft a huge success. McDavid, Reinhart, Talbot.

    We basically traded:

    Perron for Reinhert


    Petry for Talbot.

    I would do both those trades again. In a cap world these are GREAT moves.

    Looking forward to July 1 and spending Perron and Petrys cap space (8+ mil)…

  • BigMcD

    Wasn’t Cam Barker a fourth over-all pick???

    Where are he, Colten Tuebert, and Alex Plante now??

    I hope Samsonov doesn’t turn into a future hall of famer, and, that Svetchnikov doesn’t make it either ….

    But for however long Reinhart plays with the OIL his value will always be evaluated against the comparable acquisition cost.

    Good luck Griffin, you will need it in E-town.

  • BigMcD

    Klefbom Franson

    Fayne Reinhart

    Nurse Ference


    Not the best but definitely an improvent. Just give Klefbomb and Nurse some more time and they could be very good.

    • YFC Prez

      Nurse is so important to this franchise I would not slot him in on the roster just yet. Unless he comes to camp and absolutely destroys any doubts as to weather or not he’s ready.

      I still want to see him play one season in the AHL. Or at least half a season. The oilers have done everything right with Darnell so far and look how it’s paid off for him. He is one of the best defensive prospects in the world, maybe arguably the best.

      • smith

        What? How is that an improvement?

        Petry was the best defence man the oilers have. Did you not see how effective he was for an actual playoff team? Reinhart is very doubtful to be ready for the NHL. Nurse probably is ready for NHL but might be best spending some time in AHL. Franson is not capable of being a Number 1, and Klefbom is a somophore. Did you not see what happened to Maricin in his second year? If you do not start sheltering some young d-man they will not be developing too well. Nurse, Klefbom and Reinhart can be good defence-men in a few years. Shelter them and develop them appropriately for once.

        Gryba is no more relevant than Aulie and certainly does not shelter anyone.

        • YFC Prez

          You lost me somewhere.

          Oilers should have signed Petry to 4.25long term last offseason. I said so then and it was a very realistic possibility.

          I’m a Petry fan. Not at 5.5 but at the 4.25 he could have easily been signed for ( that would be a great bargain contract now). That’s on Mac T and Mac T alone. I’m still pissed about losing him, defence would look much better if he were around.

          Every d-man the oilers had playing well for stretches always seemed to do so playing alongside Petry. I don’t know how in the hell Mac T missed that.

      • alledmonton

        How can you determine at this point that Nurse needs at least a half a season in the AHL? He didn’t even look out of place during the first few games of last season. Unless something really unexpected happens, he’ll be in the open night line-up.

        • YFC Prez

          I can’t. That’s why I said if he doesn’t leave any doubt he’s ready leave him with the big club.

          Oilers have done everything right with nurse. I’m just hoping that continues weather it’s playing a bit in OKC or making the big club after camp.

          He was great during oKC playoffs.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    It’s amazing how much some of you drink the Kool-Aid. Our draft day was fine but aside from McDavid we didn’t improve significantly. Anyone who is hyped up that the Oilers will make the playoffs, let alone 1 round, next year is delusional.

    The number of question marks we have are the same as 2 days ago.

    I’m hopeful that Chia has a plan but I’ve seen this all before…last time we drafted 1st, and the time before that, and the time before that.

    I’m not happy, not because I’m never happy, but because this is WAY too familiar! But if you’re happy…Bottoms up!

    • YFC Prez

      The biggest asset chia needs to acquire is a top pairing dman. And no that wasn’t taken care of.

      There is still free agency and trades to be made though. I think he did a marvellous job on draft day. Let’s just wait to evaluate his first off season until it’s over.

      • Cheap Shot Charlie

        Oh sorry, I didn’t realize everyone was so excited about being better. I thought fans got excited when their team won a playoff series, a conference title or a Stanley cup. My bad

        Yeahhhh 27th place or better!!!!

          • Cheap Shot Charlie

            who said anything about 3rd overall? I’m saying I’m not confident with the moves…
            Go back and read the original post.

            28th to 20th isn’t anything to get excited about.

            Maybe you should enlighten me on how we’re significantly better (that was the original point).

          • YFC Prez

            28th to 20th is something to get incredibly excited about. If the oilers did that they would have increased by 30 points in the standings and be within a few points of the playoffs.

            I would be ecstatic with that kind of finish.

            Their win percentage would have increased over 60 % from this season. That’s amazing progress.

          • Cheap Shot Charlie

            I can agree with that. But like we both know our D roster didn’t change a lick this weekend.

            Reinhart was in the minors last year. So was Maricin. And Gryba was a 7th. That leaves the same 6 guys on the ice unless Reinhart is about to really break out…not like Gagner was going to or Paajarvi was going to or Omark was going to or Schultz was going to or (insert name here) was going to.

            Talbot was one of the best options. But Lowetide calls projecting goalies “voodoo” and I tend to agree. I hope Talbot is killer but I really have no reason to believe he can stand up when his D are so bad.

            That leaves us with McDavid. AWESOME!!! It’s going to be fun to watch…but I took him out of the equation in my first post. So, that takes us back to how improved will we be? As you said, let’s give it a year. Thus, I’m not super happy.

            Good posts though YFC Prez. You at least make good points that can be debated.

          • YFC Prez

            I like a Reinhart Fayne pairing for next season. I think Reinhart is going to be a stellar shutdown d-man but there is a lot of concern about him. And I undestand that, I’m just way higher on the player than the rest of the nation.

            They biggest move Chiarelli is still needing to make is to find a top pairing big minute d-man to play with Klefbom on the first unit. I don’t really want Klefbom there yet but if he can be brought along by a quality top pairing vet I like the looks of that much better.

            The third is up in the air. Schultz the new guy Ferrence and Nikitin call al fight for roster spots. Unless one or 2 get sent away. All the better.

            But a lot depends on that big minute munching veteran d man the oilers need. Without that I really don’t see enough improvement to move up the standings that much. I do like Reinhart. But he will never be a top pairing d-man and still has so much to learn until he fills out his mold.

      • Clint

        Playoffs?!?!? You talkin about playoffs?!?! You kidding me? playoffs?!?! I’m having visions of Jim Mora right now. The reality is its going to be tough in the Pacific and the West, even with the improved team. What I’m sure of is that March and April games will be meaningful and every game will be exciting. Can’t wait.

  • MillHoodsHockey4Life

    Realistically the playoffs aren’t THAT far away now with the new format- Van, SJ and Ari are looking to be in trouble, so the Oil just have to keep pace for a wildcard. Not expecting big things but it can only build confidence for the team going forward if they can stay in that race. The central will be a slaughterhouse so there’s only so much optimism to be had but it’s better than looking at potential draft picks by Remembrance Day.

    • YFC Prez

      The oilers will likely need to win at least 18 more games than they did this year and have the same number of loser points just to squeak into the playoffs.

      That’s a very lofty goal for one season.

      I do think they are much improved though. But playoffs, let’s just wait and see what chia does with that back end during the next week.

      • MillHoodsHockey4Life

        Being swept by Ari and Cgy didn’t help, but if they can win 3 or 4 games against the weaker divisional teams and manage close to .500 against the others it may not be 18 but it’ll be closer to what’s needed. A few saves in the first/last 5 minutes will earn them a few extra points over the season- they were losing games before everyone got into their seats, a few loser points and 3v3 overtime wins and suddenly they’re in it for a WC.

  • YFC Prez


    seriously people how often do you see absolutely dominant junior players not eventually figure out the nhl?

    he’s played 8 nhl games and he’s only 21… yet he put up 22 points in 59 ahl games as a rookie and he’s supposed to be a defensive defensemen.

    let it all play out, one day the smirk on doug weights face will be knocked off by reinhart putting tavares to the ice repeatedly in front of the net

    • YFC Prez

      Coyotes also took on Pronger’s contract as part of deal , so they could be over the cap floor . Poor Gagner looks like he’ll be bought out by Philly now . He’ll be a cheap acquisition for someone . Is he finished as an NHL player perhaps ?

      • Serious Gord

        He got 41 pts in 81 games (-28!!) so I think he can still play for a while yet. He just has to get out from under the cloud of that idiot contract mact gave him.

  • Clint

    I have always thought that the oil need to target Seth Jones. Preds have the stud in Webber. Maybe the chance to play with his brother will help make this happen?

  • Serious Gord

    The big question is who the Oilers are after now , that might be on team before opening night . Also , whom they might dispose of ? Seems like a lot of big names could move in the next little while .

  • Joy S. Lee

    Thanks for this. Top notch reporting in my estimation, very astute connecting of the dots.

    At first blush, I liked the picks we made, too. Mostly because of the timing and type of player. Looking after the defensive prospect pool…finally. That report on Paigin’s game sounds North American all the way, obviously. But if he actually plays that way on big ice, even with his size he has to be mobile to keep up… doesn’t he? Hmm, possible gem is right – is it wishful thinking to hope he has some of the Russian pedigree of skating and playmaking? Shrinking the rink for a monster who’s used to having lots of ice to cover fast Russian guys… he might even see the advantages for him playing in the smaller NHL rinks, you think? And the big guy is only 20; might even still grow.

    Seth Jones more physical (little) brother… I’ll take a shot on that kind of pedigree, too, and the US Development Program is churning out good players like crazy. I also like that they took an unrated goalie at the end, when many ranked goalies were still available. Reach…educated guess…hidden gem…? Haven’t the Oilers been openly combing the planet for goalies of all types, and for some time now? It’s not unfathomable that they found a hidden gem here, either. Relative unknown or not, playing well at the World Jrs is nothing to sneeze at on a resume. But maybe they know more than most about this kid, since they seemed to draft him with intention, leaving many higher ranked guys alone. I like the vibe of much of this whole process, in fact I’m practically over the moon with the way things have been handled, and the way they are setting up. Thanks again for the great insights.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Actually, my comment was directed towards Jeetz, and not Jay, whom I was actually agreeing with as to the logic of a short-term “prove yourself” contract.