WWYDW: Which Oilers defencemen should be in the long-term plans?


The Edmonton Oilers have used nine defencemen already this season, but unfortunately for the club the old pattern of having quantity but not quality is producing similar results as it has in previous years. In today’s edition of WWYDW, we ask which defencemen our readers would be inclined to keep for next season, and which ones need to be cut loose to make space for better players.

The Depth Chart


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Via NHL Numbers, the following is a list of relevant players and their contracts. I’ve also included David Musil, who will require waivers to be sent to the AHL next year.

(As I read the CBA, both Jordan Oesterle and Joey Laleggia can be demoted next year without needing to clear waivers, provided that each is still under the 60 NHL games played mark.)

  • Andrej Sekera: $5.5 million cap hit through 2020-21. Natural LD, can play RD.
  • Oscar Klefbom: $4.167 million cap hit through 2022-23. Natural LD, can play RD.
  • Justin Schultz: RFA, coming off a $3.9 million cap hit. RD.
  • Mark Fayne: $3.625 million cap hit through 2017-18. RD.
  • Eric Gryba: UFA, coming off a $1.25 million cap hit. RD.
  • Griffin Reinhart: $833,000 cap hit (up to $3.213 million with bonuses) through 2016-17. Natural LD, can play RD.
  • Darnell Nurse: $833,000 cap hit (up to $1.713 million with bonuses) through 2017-18. LD.
  • Brandon Davidson: RFA, coming off a $585,000 cap hit. Natural LD, can play RD. 
  • Andrew Ference: $3.25 million cap hit through 2016-17. Natural LD, can play RD.
  • Nikita Nikitin: UFA, coming off $4.5 million cap hit. Natural LD, may actually be more effective at RD.
  • David Musil: RFA, coming off $894,000 cap hit. Natural LD, can play RD. (needs to clear waivers)

That is a total of 11 players, plus any additions made to bolster the blue line. So: Who should the Oilers keep, and who should they part ways with?

My Take

Darnell Nurse

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Sekera stays. I don’t think he’s been as bad as most others do, I’ve been impressed by what I saw of him in L.A. and Carolina, and I think it’s also natural to expect an adjustment period as he gets used to a more prominent role on a new team. Klefbom stays, obviously, as do Nurse and Reinhart given their respective ages (with the caveat that if an obviously excellent defenceman became available, Reinhart in particular might make sense as part of the return package).

That’s four spots taken up, most of them on the left side. If I’m building the team, ideally I want seven defencemen total and one of those seven to be an off-season addition (Dustin Byfuglien is a popular name; basically the idea here is to grab a top-pair defender who ideally shoots right).

That leaves two spots for the other 11 incumbents. Nikitin obviously walks; just as obviously Ference is bought out of his contract. In Peter Chiarelli’s position, I’d be open to trading all of Schultz, Fayne and Gryba. Gryba will obviously have value at the deadline given his expiring contract; the Oilers should be able to get more than they paid for him. Schultz will also be on an expiring contract and a team with power play problems might be interested at the deadline; I suspect he’s tradeable and I’d move on because I see him as a No. 4/5 defenceman and he’s just paid too much. I like Fayne quite a bit, but I tend to think he can be replaced in the summer at a lower dollar figure, so if there’s a deal that makes sense take it and if not he’s welcome to stay.

I like Davidson and I like Musil, but there’s already a ton of youth on the blue line and both guys are left shots (like every other defenceman on the team). If there’s a trade out there, great; if not there’s a training camp battle to be fought for one of the depth jobs.

When all is said and done, that leaves Klefbom, Sekera, one of Nurse/Reinhart and a newcomer in top-four spots next season, as well as the other of Nurse/Reinhart on the third pairing with either Fayne or a cheap newcomer, with one of Davidson/Musil in the No. 7 slot. That’s not a particularly reassuring defence – even if the newcomer is somebody like Byfuglien – but at this point the Oilers don’t have much choice but to give the ball to their young players and hope they run with it.


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

    • More like:

      Nurse – Byfuglien/Yandle
      Sekera – Klefbom
      Reinhart – Davidson

      Sekera and Fayne are not likely going anywhere.
      Ferrence has to get bought out next year.
      Justin Shultz can be a guy that the Oilers trade or walk away from.

      I am guessing the Oilers are going to be looking to spend heavy on Byfuglien or Yandle.

      Hopefully they get one or the other.

    • I think everybody needs to stop acting like they are the General Manager or Coach. Bob Nicholson is the boss and he knows what he is doing. Chiarelli turned a terrible Boston team into a winner and the results started a year into the job. McClellan is a exceptional coach. It is not either one of these guys’s fault with the team they inherited. I have the utmost confidence they will turn this around. Find the right defense and proper forwards. Cannot happen overnight.

  • CMG30

    With the way the Oilers forwards play defense and backtrack any defense and goalie is going to be and play worse than their potential and skill.

    Sekera, Nurse, Klefbom and Reinhardt are here to stay.

    Trade Hall and Schultz for a solid #1, and this defense should be respectable in the future.

    *p.s. to the sensitive manginas that push their bias opinion on this site: please stop IP banning because I do not feel about Hall the same way you hypocrites do.*

    • Reg Dunlop

      You are not the only fan who views Hall as expendable. Comments from departed players like Peron and Smid hint at serious dysfunction on the team, even the coach noted that the team was very quiet on the bench. The way nobody supports teammates during scrums is further evidence that something is ROTTEN here. Who has played on a competitive team in any sport, even a rec league team, that wasn’t full of banter and comaraderie? Who knows if Hall is part of the problem, I certainly don’t, but he and Eberle are the 2 constants in the last 5 years of Oiler gong show.

      The only problem I have with your opinion is that one solid first pairing defender is not nearly enough. We need two or it will be like bailing out a boat with a hole in it. Gotta fix the damn hole this time.

      • For Pete's Sake!

        I agree with you, the Oilers do have to support each other more during scrums but that’s on everyone, not just Hall and Ebs.

        I think you are out of line when you insinuate that there something “ROTTEN” in the Oiler’s dressing room and it’s linked to Hall and Eberle.

        These two young guys have gone through 7 years of hell because of the terrible supporting cast an incompetent management group has foisted on them in that time.

        From Brodziak to Matt Greene to Jarret Stoll to Andrew Cogliano management traded away one player after another who had any leadership qualities.

        They replaced them with a bunch of aging loser veterans who probably couldn’t make any other team in the league.

        You put Toews and Kane into a similar situation and see how well they do.

        Hall and Ebs deserve better, they really are two great talented players that ANY other team in the league would love to have on their roster.

        Put the blame where it really is. At Katz and Lowe’s doorstep.

        • Reg Dunlop

          Do you recall when Smid exited and he said that things could get much worse? Did you notice during the Pittsburgh loss one play when Hall delayed with the puck at the Pen’s blue causing Yak to skitter offside? As Hall circled out of the zone he looked back at Yak and shook his head. I know, it’s only body language that could be mis-interpreted but do you think a good teammate and leader acts like that? I challenge Hallphiles to convince me that he should be untouchable as a trade chip. Is he a good hockey player/

          • Reg Dunlop

            I think that Hall has matured a lot, even in the past year, and doubtless he still has a way to go. If he had a mentor, someone to show him the way these last few years I’m sure he would be further along. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is our best moveable asset after McDavid. That doesn’t change the fact that a Hall-led team without a top D-pairing is a bottom 5 NHL squad. Time to move onward and upward in my opinion. We will soon find out if the GM agrees.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            I suggest that if he’s as bad as some people around here suggest, Tmac and PC will move him. No coach wants a cancer in their dressing room. If Tmac is good with him, so am I.

        • BubbaZanetti

          Let’s not start comparing Toews and Kane with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.

          And why is it that “they deserve better” ?

          Toews and Kane lead the hawks, who the hell is the leader on the Oilers ?

          I know who the leader will be once he gets back.

          And for the record I would keep Eberle on the go forward.

          The make up of this team needs to change drastically.

          • For Pete's Sake!

            If Kane and Toews had been saddled with the kind of sad sack supporting cast Hall and Ebs have had in the last seven years, courtesy of Klowe, MacT and Tambo, how many cups do you think they would have won??

            And as for the part where I said, “they deserve better?” Glen Sather always said his job was to provide Gretz, Mess and Coffey with a great supporting cast that would help them win and become great team.

            I think every exceptionally talented player “deserves” that kind of management to help them reach their potential and become winners.

            Hall and Ebs have never gotten that until perhaps now with Chiarelli.

      • CMG30

        Hall and Eberle the only two constants from the last 5 years? Really? There’s tons of constants from the last 5 year. Actually why stop at 5? lets go all the way back to 2006 and look for constants from the entire period of suck.

        Lets see: Coaching carousel, playing rookies too soon, GM trading quality defensemen away for picks and prospects leaving us with below AHL quality D corps. Successive GM’s stubbornly refusing to surround talent with actual supporting roll players. Goaltending etc, etc, etc.

        Now, lets examine your logic: Hall and Eberle have been here for 5 of the 9 years the Oil have totally sucked. Hall and Eberle are two of the 3 or 4 players on the team that have actually preformed at or above expectations. Therefor they’re the expendable ones!

        Of course that doesn’t make any sense, but a little gossip and innuendo should totally make it legit.

    • I have no idea who you are, but from “sensitive mangina” I can tell you’re a real charmer. If somebody’s been blocking you I’d guess it has a lot more to do with *how* you say things than the things you actually say.

      • Thank You. Charm is the quality in others, that makes us more satisfied with ourselves.

        However, I will tell you that your guess is wrong. It has nothing to do with how, I guarantee you that.

        If one of the sensitive manginas would come forth and give their reasoning for the ban in the last few days, you would see that my proof is in their pudding.

      • S cottV

        I give honest feedback on most articles, equally. If I didn’t like the article or I think it was sub-par based on previous work, I say it. This happens more for some writers than others, literally never for JW. But Brownlee I dont really care for, some people do, but not my cup of tea. I made the mistake of saying that once, on one particularly poor article IMHO, and I was banned.

        Personally, I think that is so old school. People want to participate in their news.

        The writers will say, if you don’t like it don’t read it. But in the new age of media, its if you don’t want to read bad comments and put up with occasional rude people and trolls and opinions you don’t agree with, then don’t write a blog with a comments section. As long as people are not spreading “hate”, then as a blogger I think its your inherent duty to put up with them. Part of the job these days. Comments = clicks and clicks = $.

        • chickenStew

          Or, the writer can do whatever the hell he wants. He doesn’t owe you or me a damn thing. They don’t write for you to rate their performance. Do you think you can criticize without consequence? Doesn’t appear so does it?

          The article gets the ball rolling; the comments section is for us to share our opinions on the matter at hand. Some people don’t realize that rudeness, vulgarity, and unsolicited writing advice is worth nothing. Those who do it, get what’s coming to them.

          What YOU want isn’t necessarily what the other guys wants. Life is so unfair..

        • CMG30

          Couldn’t disagree with you more.

          Differing opinions are one thing, but there should never an obligation for anyone to put up with rude people and trolls. Neither one earns a webpage $$$ as they kill legitimate discussion and drive off the very people who you actually want participating in the news.

          The sad part of the internet is that anonymity has led to a sizable number of persons behaving in an absolutely atrocious manner. I commend the moderators who are booting these individuals.

          OTOH, if your assertion that you’ve been banned for politely taking issue with points in an article is correct, well that’s a different matter. I would suggest that you inquire via email why your comments were banned. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding over tone or something.

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Ok guys. I know its not the most popular subject and he’s playing great this year. But let’s be honest here.

    It’s time to trade Hall. No other player gets us that top pairing defender that this team so desperately needs.

    Even Hall wouldn’t get us an elite number 1D man, actually I’d be interested in what a real return for Hall would look like, but, regardless, Hall can get you what no other package of yak or ebs etc could get you.

    Oilers fans need to become less emotionally attached to any players other than McDavid or Nurse.

    When Hall was out end of last year and our top line was on fire, you can’t tell me that didn’t open some eyes that this team doesn’t rely as much as we thought on Hall

    Yes he’s an amazing talent and elite, but, this isn’t NHL 16 on your PS4, you need to give quality to get quality.

    With Nuge, Ebs, McDavid, Drai, Yak you have more than enough skill for your top 2 lines and I think we would survive Taylor hall not being there.

    What’s more important to winning? A top D man on a terrible defense or a top left winger on a forward group filled with top end talent?

  • Spoils

    talking long term

    I’d say let’s keep developing the Klefbom, Nurse, Schultz, Rienhart, Davidson, maybe Gryba (juries out) prospects like LeLeggia etc. I’d plan to trade the too long Sekera contract and let the others go.

    BUT we should also plan to

    if one or two of our guys can be more than a 2-4 guy, great (maybe we keep or even use them as a strong trade piece for the final missing pieces of our cup run (like a premium goal scorer or a lock-goalie)

    Nurse and Klef have a shot. I’m worried about the bad habits, but they do.

    we look like we have enough to staff positions 2-8 quite well (once they mature).

    we just need to make a trade for the guaranteed piece. stanley cup teams always have the #1 guy.

    McDavid > Toews
    Hall = Kane
    ???? = Keith

    we are close

  • Shit bitch cunt fuck

    NHL coaches want a Left and Right handed defensive pair. Period. If that means trading Andrej Sekera for 10 cents on the dollar, do that trade. Cap room is an asset. And they should offer sheet Seth Jones in July. WAKE UP PEOPLE.