Developing defensemen at the NHL level is exhausting. Even when they arrive one at a time, the viewer can look forward to glaring errors, encouraging words on the bench from the coach (the coach knows, at some level, he’s training this player for the next coach) and painful defensive sorties. Is it worth it? Sure. In fact, in a developing season like this one, Edmonton needs to use some their ice time on kids—that way the group will be more experienced next fall. Comes the question: How many rookies should they play every night? Arrives the answer: NOT THREE!
— Sports Photos (@sportsphotos) November 13, 2015
TOO MUCH, TOO SOON
As of now, Edmonton has three of the top rookie defensemen in the NHL based on time-on-ice. Source
- No. 3 Darnell Nurse 19:09
- No. 9 Brandon Davidson 17:24
- No. 13 Griffin Reinhart 16:29
Of the approx. 2,294 minutes for Oilers defenders this season, about 25% has been spent on rookies:
- Nurse 210:39
- Davidson 191:29
- Reinhart 181:22
That’s a lot, too much. And honestly, it’s even more pronounced if we look at recent results:
TOI for #Oilers D tonight:
McLellan sticking with the kids
— Bruce McMcCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) November 21, 2015
I know it looks cool—our kids are learning!—but it’s the wrong road. Too many kids means too many mistakes means lack of structure and reliability. Justin Schultz is coming back (and yes, I am aware of the irony) and the Oilers need to move out a rookie. It’s the right thing to do. It does not mean abandoning development, but it does mean responsibly graduating prospects to the NHL in an orderly fashion.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 21, 2015
WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
I think Brandon Davidson has done enough to stay, and the waiver worry is significant enough to suggest he’s not going anywhere (unless dealt). Darnell Nurse is playing big minutes and that’s not likely to change when Justin Schultz returns.
Which brings us to the other options:
- Send down Griffin Reinhart. It’s the strongest option, because two rookies are somewhat manageable but three is crazy.
- Trade Brandon Davidson. Although the early portion of his NHL career looks promising, the pedigree attached to Nurse and Reinhart is very strong.
Oilers can’t run these three men every night, it’s madness. Agree? P.S. this could have been avoided, but the Reinhart add has things out of time.