The Edmonton Oilers should look at moving a defence prospect or two


It’s been apparent for a few years now that the Oilers were facing a logjam of good young prospects on the blue line. The addition of another top-quality prospect rearguard (Griffin Reinhart) has only served to intensify the situation.

An obvious solution is trade.

The Current Situation

Reinhart, Griffin2

The Oilers may lack established top-four NHL defenceman, but they have no shortage of promising young/inexperienced NHL’ers and good prospects. Here’s a look at the significant players with less than 100 NHL games the team will have at the professional level next year:

Player Age (Oct. 1) NHL GP Drafted
Oscar Klefbom 21 77 19th overall, 2011
Darnell Nurse 20 2 7th overall, 2013
Griffin Reinhart 21 8 4th overall, 2012
David Musil 22 4 31st overall, 2011
Brandon Davidson 24 12 162nd overall, 2010
Jordan Oesterle 23 6 Undrafted
Dillon Simpson 22 0 92nd overall, 2011
Joey LaLeggia 23 0 123rd overall, 2012
Ben Betker 21 0 158th overall, 2013
Martin Gernat 22 0 122nd overall, 2011

Three of those players look like can’t-miss NHL’ers. Edmonton’s NHL future is going to depend to a large degree on the development of Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart, all of whom are being pegged to play significant roles in coming years.

That trio alone will be a lot for Edmonton to break in on the blue line over the next few seasons; there isn’t going to be much room for other prospects to find their way. That was probably at least part of the reason why the Oilers shipped out Martin Marincin and brought in Eric Gryba at the draft; Marincin’s ceiling is certainly higher but Gryba is 27 years old and has five professional seasons under his belt.

Even if we only add one name from the rest of that pro prospect group to Edmonton’s depth chart over the next three years, the Oilers will be breaking in four players who presently have less than 100 games of NHL experience over that span. It’s an awfully hard thing to do, particularly if the team wants to win some games over that stretch.


Additionally, even if all of Klefbom, Nurse and Reinhart make the big club out of camp next year, the Oilers will have seven prospects on their AHL blue line – and that’s before even looking at minor league mentors like Brad Hunt. 


Peter Chiarelli4

The trouble is that with the possible exception of Musil (and given his skating concerns, even that’s pushing it) none of those players are going to command a lot in a deal. Still, there are at least three kinds of trade that might make sense for Edmonton:

  • Sweetener on a larger deal. Over the course of making trades, generally there arises a situation where a team has to sweeten the pot to get a deal done. A good recent example would be the inclusion of Colin Miller in the Milan Lucic trade between Boston and Los Angeles. If the Oilers make a bigger deal and need to top up their side of it, a defensive prospect is the obvious choice.
  • Prospect-for-pick. The Canucks dealt a third-round pick and a contract (Alexandre Mallet, then toiling in the ECHL) to the Islanders for defensive prospect Andrey Pedan this year (another example would be the Reinhart trade, though the value on that is on a different level entirely). Other recent examples might include the trades of Magnus Hellberg and Max Reinhart for later picks. One team addresses an area of need, the other adds a pick. We shouldn’t be surprised if the Oilers opt for that kind of move.
  • Prospect-for-prospect. A good example of this came at the trade deadline, when Colorado swapped forward Michael Sgarbossa to Anaheim for defenceman Mat Clark. Lots of teams have the opposite issue of the Oilers – plenty of good forwards, but a lack of solid defencemen. Edmonton’s forward prospect group isn’t especially strong, and moving a second-tier defensive prospect for a second-tier forward prospect would solve two problems at once.


  • Stack Pad Save

    I don’t see this group of prospects as a problem or a logjam. I view it as competition. You have 10 prospects battling for 2 NHL spots (potentially), 6 spots in the American Hockey League and 6 spots in the ECHL. The more competition the better. If my facts about positions available in the NHL, AHL, and ECHL are correct than we have 10 guys battling for 14 spots. I say bring in more guys to make the competition better.

  • petrklimashelmet

    Good management is about ROI. They need to make sure that they start to get value from their later draft picks. This is something that separates teams with sustained success and teams with long ups and downs.

    If you consider Davidson, he was a 6th rounder, 162nd overall. That is supposed to be a 15.6% chance of 100+ games in the NHL (according to Scott Cullen TSN*). Now he is on the cusp of an NHL career. That is an incredible ROI if they can capitalize on it! The trick is either making use of him or getting something from a trade. If he gets picked up off of waivers, it is an opportunity wasted.

    Besides trading a prospect as part of a package, they trade a D prospect for prospects in other positions. They could also consider trading them for draft picks. The Oilers have recently traded away draft picks during their rebuild, and it wouldn’t hurt to replenish the pipeline. They look like they are on the cusp of success, so how long can it be sustained for?

    *Draft pick probabilities:

  • A-Mc

    Opportunity is limited for these young men, that is for sure. As it stands right now, my preference would be to trade Defensive prospects for prospects in other positions.

    A previous poster made a good point about the Oilers handing over a bunch of picks for little to no bodies, lately. Thinning out the farm is probably not the safest option right now.

    Keep the same prospect count but spread it out a little so we have other positions being developed.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    yup, the problem is, outside of Klefbom, Nurse and Reinhart, the Oiler defensive prospects may be tracking well as a whole, but individually, they really would just be throw in’s. look how little Marincin got us back from the Leafs….a 4th round pick and failed prospect and salary dump Brad Ross, who’s since been released.

    and i feel with the Oilers takeing d-men with 4 of the 6 picks they had in this past draft, that indeed some of the ‘D’ prospects could be on the block.

    • JackB

      You’re right. All we got for Marincin – a 6’4″/204lb, 23 yr old, proven NHL starter (but possibly only a 4-5 defence?) was a 4th round (#106) draft pick. In fact, a 4th round pick for prospect would not have been a good return, and Marincin was a roster player with NHL experience.

      Brad Ross was only a contract dump for Toronto. Maybe they were already at 50 contracts and couldn’t take Marincin? It certainly wasn’t a cap issue because a player under suspension doesn’t count against the cap. And Chiarelli knew he wouldn’t be qualifying him as an RFA.

      Marincin, a roster player, for a 4th round pick was either a VERY POOR trade by Chiarelli, or he just wanted to clear a roster spot for a defenseman he knew he was going to get. (Marincin was subject to waivers if Chiarelli wanted to move him back to the AHL at training camp, and would very likely be claimed and lost for nothing.) I also wonder why Marinicin was a “healthy scratch” during the AHL playoffs last year?

      Actually, I think we can measure the costs of acquiring Gryba as Marincin plus Travis Ewanyk (a 6’4″ rugged, tough, LW/C, in the 3rd year of his ELC, but maybe a B level prospect?) Still, it’s a PRETTY HIGH PRICE for Gryba !! I sure hope he turns out as good as Chiarelli thinks he is.

      Or maybe it was simply replacing a “4-5 softer playing D” with a “rugged/hard playing 4-5 D”? Chiarelli did say he wanted players who played with an edge and were hard to play against when he was first hired. And maybe it was a bit of a message to the rest of the team? “Start playing harder, stick up for your teammates or . . . ” ??

      And you are right, defence prospects may not be as valuable as we (amateur GM’s) think they are? But I would hope they are worth more than just “throw ins” !!!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    How about no? We don’t need to look to trade any prospects. If there is a deal that will improve our club (mainly our D) at the nhl level and need to toss in a prospect. Ok.. But don’t go shopping them out.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    My issue is less with the number of guys, and more that they all play left. Like, if the organization just not into drafting any right shot D men?

  • Spoils

    So with all of these young, upcoming defencemen, perhaps Chiarelli can sucker someone into trading for Schultz. Let some other team waste time and resources trying to make him a legit defender.

  • Craig1981

    It wasn’t that long ago we had Petry, Chorley, Syvret, Peckham, and Plante.

    You can never have too many prospects….not till they are about to start their 4th season. And by then you are better able to know what you have

  • Spoils

    love the summer Kool Aid and this summer has been unprecedented. so many prayers answered (new mgt!)

    But the idea that Klefbom and Schultz are in our top 4 right now is a problem.


    that is all we have for a real top 4 guy on a contender team. Maybe Fayne as #4, maybe.

    Seriously look at the top 4 of the semi-finalists for the Stanley…

    • Kevwan

      Yeah the Stanley cup top 4 are awesome but where was it said that we were contenders for anything …We are bottom of the league so if you are expecting us to get Shea Weber and Duncan Keith, I’m thinking that is not happening so who drinking kool-aid?

      • Spoils

        What I mean is all the excitement with new MGT, Sekera, McJeeeeze etc. needs to be tempered by the reality that our D is still not there.

        Logjam at the bottom, one legitimate top 4 IMO…

        I’d just like to see one more move.

      • JackB

        Never get those guys without giving up our best. I believe Nurse, Klefbom and Reinhart and maybe even Schults (he certainly has the skills he is not using them) have it in them to reach Stanley Cup quality 1D. The problem is they need to be managed properly and not thrown into the deep end. That is why we need a second top 4D to be competitive and allow them to gain experience and succeed.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Indications I’ve gotten are that Laleggia and Betker might shine, and Musil could yet be a solid NHL 3rd pairing guy, unlikely for top 4. Davidson has some upticks, and a little more high level experience he could now translate. Basically, it sounds like Gernat is the only lost cause of the group at this point. But I’d put my money on Betker.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      maybe? Musil, Davidson and Betker are all *probably* bottom pairing d-men and LaLeggia and Oesterle *probably* have the most likelihood of producing points in the NHL in the future. not a bad bunch, but Nurse, Klefbom and Reinhart are the guys to watch for *potential* top pairing guys. my opinion.

  • Kevwan

    I’ve read that Davidson will have to clear waivers to be sent down to AHL this year. We are practically guaranteed to lose him for nothing, just as he is looking like a realistic NHL prospect. I would try to package him with Nikitin (holding some salary) for whatever i could get. Buffalo is searching for a left side D. Having already bought out Erhoff once, they are not likely interested in bringing him back; so Nikitin at $3 Million could be attractive to them, especially with the sweetener. If that trade works, i would try to sign Franson if i could get him for at most 3 years and less than $5 million per.

      • JackB

        We don’t need anything value for Nikitin – only the loss of his salary so we can sign a UFA. Problem is he makes US$4.5M so nobody is going to take (look at the UFA’s they can have for similar or not much more) him unless the Oil eats most of his salary or puts others in the trade. We are stuck.

    • JackB

      Yes, Davidson has to clear waivers. He hasn’t played the max 160 NHL games, so it must be that it’s been 5 years since he signed his 1st NHL contract. But if he’s showing real promise in his development, we don’t have to lose him to waivers. Both Reinhart and Nurse are waiver exempt, so I think he would be kept up as the 7th D. (He is 23, and I rather see him in the pressbox than Griff or Darnell. They need to be playing, not sirtting)

      If we buyout Ference but don’t pick up another veteran D, then our line up could be:
      Sekera / Fayne
      Klefbom / Schultz (or Gryba)
      Reinhart / Gryba (or Schultz)
      #7 – Davidson / waive Nikitin to Bakersfield

      We sure as hell wouldn’t keep Nikitin (who we know will be GONZO at the end of the year) and waive a promising young prospect!
      And if some team is short of “warm bodies” to fill out their defence roster, and picked him up – HIS 4 MILL WOULD COME OFF OUR CAP – (probably too much to hope for!)

      If we buyout Ference, then pick up another veteran D, then we could risk losing him. Unless we carry 8 D and one less forward. Or assign Reinhart (who is waiver exempt until he plays 160 games, or turns 23 – he is two years younger than Davidson)

      AND IF NURSE FORCES HIS WAY ON TO THE TEAM BY HIS PLAY . . . AND WE SIGN ONE MORE VET, . . . wow! THEN WE GOT A LOGJAM! (and someone has to go . . . by trade hopefully)

      It is going to be a VERY INTERESTING camp !!

      • JackB

        Buyout period is 72 hours starting Saturday, not 48 hours. 48 hours wouldn’t leave you enough time to first put the player on waivers – which is a 48 hours. So we should definitely find out tomorrow if Chiarelli is going to use the buyout. I figure he will buyout Ference (rather than relegate him to the pressbox next year as the 7th D) AND THAT WOULD BE OUT OF RESPECT to Ference, because I don’t think there would be much cap advantage from buying him out; and his cap-hit would be spread over 4 years. Plus Ference will get a chance to sign a short term contract with some other team? (Chiarelli is a class guy)

        Then he’ll waive Nikitin to Bakersfeild (UNLESS NIKITIN SURPRISE EVERYONE THIS CAMP – which is highly unlikely !!)

        • CDNinATL

          Juggler000 has it right. We a 48 hour window to buy a player out. And the waiver period is only 24 hours. We’ll know tomorrow by 10am Edmonton time (noon for those us out east) if someone is being bought out.

          My guess is it’s Ference. Sign Ehrhoff to a one year deal. Play Nikitin and hopefully trade him at or near the deadline and then bring up Nurse.

  • CDNinATL

    Does anyone think it’s worth trading Nuge for a legit top end defenceman? Got a lot of thumbs down last time I posted this. You gotta give something to get something, unless your the flames apparently.

    • JackB


      We’ve got THREE !! unless you forget? Or don’t follow the team roster very closely.

      (1) Sekera (for 6 years) (2) Klefbom (being developed) (3) Nurse (coming like gangbusters)

      I’m sick and tired of posters WHO WANT IT ALL!! . . . NOW!!

      Good teams draft and develop their elite talent. Seabrook was drafted in 2003 by CHI, spent two more years in junior, and now has played 10 years.

      As well, DO YOU THINK that defence is the only area we were VERY WEAK in ?? For years we were weak at centre – and no one (in their right mind) would trade us a first line center. You have to develop your own!!

      And we have! Nuge was drafted at 18, has just finished his third year in the NHL, and is now bigger, stronger, and turning out to be a damn good 2 way center.

      AND NOW YOU WANT TO TRADE HIM FOR A 30YR OLD DEFENSEMAN, whose salary demands could cripple us! Give your head a shake man !!!!! We are FINALLY getting strong down the center, and you want us to trade away one of our best?

      Like I said, when we were weak at center NO ONE (at least not successful teams) WERE ABOUT TO TRADE AWAY A NUMBER ONE CENTER.



      When in hell are posters on this site going to stop “the grass is always greener” attitude.

      And the childish attitude “I want my candy . . . AND I WANT IT NOW !!!!

      Sorry GK1980 . . . BUT YOU ARE OUT OF ORDER . . . now sit down !!!!


      By the way . . . the flames did have to give up something . . . a 1st round and 2 2nd round picks. And come to think of it . . . we got the best player in the last 30 years . . . and we didn’t have to give up any propects or picks.

  • JackB

    Further to my RANT! (just posted) I think we have to remember IT TOOK KEVIN LOWE 10 YEARS to almost ruin our team . . . and we want Chiarelli to change all that in a couple of months??

    I remember how ecstatic everyone was when he became President of Hockey Operations (replacing LOWE!) and GM (replacing MacT!)

    I also remember people saying “if he can just get us a good goaltender . . . and a top pairing defenseman . . . THEN HE WILL HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB!

    . . . and (maybe) (if it’s not asking too much) . . . get us a second pairing defence?

    He got us a goaltender and 3 defensemen.

    But I also remember people being concerned that he might trade away one of our young stars, like he traded Kessel and Sequin. Well he got us 7 new players without trading Hall, RNH or Eberle !! (I’d say he’s done a pretty good job so far)


    Sorry I just had to get that off my chest,

  • JackB

    Settle down JackB . These fans are accustomed to MacT. making lots more on ice turnovers in personnel , and not having much luck in forming a decent team you should recall . A lot are cynical , and until we start getting positive results on the ice they will probably remain so , and I don’t blame them .

  • JackB

    I’m settled down now guys!

    AND YES . . . our defence is still a bit of a mess. IMPROVED, for sure, but still the weakest part of the team.

    I wonder how MacTavish COULD POSSIBLY HAVE EVER THOUGHT that bringing in Nikitin and Aulie would fix the D ?? He was such a PISS POOR IDENTIFIER of hockey talent!

    AND YES . . . we really could use another top pairing defenseman for next year. I just hope acquiring one won’t cost us too much in assets we have paid so dearly for. (Paid dearly? by nine years of watching losing hockey … to get high draft picks … then to follow them, getting to love them, hoping … Eberle, Hall, Nuge, Yak … didn’t cost us any draft picks, or trade assets … the cost is measured in pain!!) (And, of course, I’ve paid for ten years of season tickets … but WHAT THE HAY … we all love our team!)

    Looking forward to Chiarelli buying out at least one of Nikitin/Ference today.

    Maybe both ??

    (Oh . . . and #GDman . . . . I’ll try decaf from now on !!!!)

    (BUT . . . I still say . . . DON’T TRADE NUGE FOR SEABROOK!!!)