Much has been made of Darnell Nurse starting the camp in the No. 9 hole on defence, but it’s worth remembering that there is a whole list of defensive prospects even further back, some of them pretty good and quite close to being NHL-ready.
In this week’s edition of WWYDW, we ask which of the Oilers’ second-tier defensive prospects stands the best chance of emerging as a real NHL’er in the near future.
- Brandon Davidson. Pros: He’s a physical stay-at-home defencemen with decent wheels and some ability with the puck. Cons: He may lack the upside of other candidates here.
- Martin Gernat. Pros: He’s a mobile, puck-moving 6’5” defenceman who at his best has some offensive upside. Cons: He’s injured right now and he’s coming off a year in which he was passed like a house on the side of the road by seemingly every D prospect in the organization.
- Brad Hunt. Pros: He’s a truly elite offensive defenceman at the AHL level; his shot and playmaking skill are pretty clearly the best on this list in the here and now. Cons: 5’9” defencemen can’t afford to be mediocre skaters.
- Joey Laleggia. Pros: He brings similar offensive skill to the organization that Hunt does, but he’s also highly mobile. Cons: Defensive zone work can be a bit of an adventure for the undersized rookie pro.
- David Musil. Pros: He’s extremely big and strong, and he just doesn’t get enough credit for his well-developed hockey sense. Cons: Mobility is an issue.
- Jordan Oesterle. Pros: He’s a mobile, intelligent defenceman who impressed last year and can move the puck. Cons: He’s a little raw defensively and lacks the same upside in the offensive zone as a Hunt or Laleggia.
- Dillon Simpson. Pros: He’s an intelligent, well-rounded defenceman who can do a little bit of everything. Cons: He lacks a standout quality and needs to get noticed.
Which of these players stands the best chance of having a real impact with the Edmonton Oilers at some point in 2015-16? Immediately getting into games is obviously a consideration – it’s impossible to have an impact without playing – but we’re also trying to identify the individual who over the course of the season is best-poised to win a job. It’s one thing to be first in line for a cameo in November; it’s another to be the guy who gets leaned on in March and April.
My pick would be Musil. He’s a little further along in his pro development than a lot of the other options, which helps, and I’m a believer in his long-term potential. I think he’s strong enough and smart enough to overcome his skating limitations.
As always, though, the final decision goes to our readers. Who do you like to emerge from the pack in 2015-16?
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