davidson ferguson 14-15 nov

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!


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:

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.


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.

    • Quicksilver ballet


      Doubt NYI would go for it though.

      Fayne + Yak and a pick/prospect and maybe.

      Still NY is looking for a replacement. Fayne is not that. I don’t think they need Yak at all. He would just be depth for them.

      To be honest, the way our guys are coming along, I think we should just sit tight.

      If NYI does not want a deal based around Fayne or Schultz, then screw it.

      I would offer Schultz + 2016 2nd and 2017 3rd type deals, but like I said, NYI probably is only really interested in Klefbom right now. They are trying to take a run at the cup. Fayne and Shultz don’t really fill the hole that Hamonic will leave, and that is why a deal has not been done. They are not really interested in taking an inferior player + picks. Course eventually it may occur to them, that is all that is available.

      • CMG30

        I agree with most everything you’ve said. We need to improve the defense, not shuffle the chairs.

        Hamonic would be our best defenseman if he came over right now. That could change as early as next season if Klef keeps growing like he is. Moving Klef + at this time might be fair value for Hamonic but it’s largely a lateral move on the oilers blueline. A move such as this would offer short term relief but with a high probability to bite the Oil in the near future.

        I’m sure Chirelli is going hard to see if a deal that makes sense can be had, but he’s not going to be stupid about it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Sorry but totally disagree with you! These three rookies have looked better than Justin Shultz has ever. To me the obvious solution here is to trade Shultz. It’s been 3 + years of same old garbage hockey from him, plus a salary that is way out of line with what he brings. Time to unload Shultz.

  • Jay (not J)

    I don’t even know what you people mean when you say ‘pedigree’ and I don’t know what kind of weight such an ephemeral concept should have in decision making process. Given the waiver situation, even if the edge went to Reinhart he should be the guy you send down because both are worth keeping. I think that Davidson has been the better player (all though I’ll admit that’s more a reflection of their offensive contributions than defense ) anyway so that just reinforces the decision. I think Griffins going to end up here again, but it’s as you said, 3 rookies on the backend is crazy.

    Still, they’ve been better than NN and Ference.

  • Cape Breton Oilers

    By most of the common metrics and by my eyes, the Oilers are an improving hockey team.

    While we are missing a key and dynamic piece in McDavid, our forwards are starting to produce at more acceptable levels and they demonstrate greater commitment to playing a 200 foot game.

    The D corps is beginning to play a more cohesive and structured game as the Toddler tinkers with the chemistry on the D pairings.

    While goaltending has been a bit of a disappointment , it just feels like it is moving closer to league average and this is a good thing.

    So, while we are currently the beneficiaries of ELPH, continuing patience will definitely see this team make a strong turn north this season.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Go with the option giving the most likelihood of best results . You can live with the mistakes of youth if it is even less than the veterans mistakes or close . One reason is they develop faster , and fans prefer to see the youth over failing and fledging veterans . The fans like new toys .

  • For Pete's Sake!

    I think the kids are alright.

    I like our defense a damn sight better than what we had last year with all those great vets. Like Nikitin, Ferrence, Jultz.

    Hamonic would sure fit in nicely though.

  • Cape Breton Oilers

    The other day I heard part of an interview with Leon Draisaitl and he was asked what is different this year compared to last year.

    One response which surprised me was that he indicated that last year he got tired in the third period. He also indicated he needed to improve his first step quickness. Accordingly, he focussed his summer work-out routine on developing his quickness and leg strength. Judging by the results to date this would appear to have been very successful.

    My question is, would this same program and focus help a player like Reinhart and others? Reinhart is a good skater but would certainly benefit from improved quickness, speed, strength and stamina.

  • lchnssmnstr

    Don’t agree with the article, the kids are the best defenders we have. When Jultz is clear to play leave him on IR is one option, put Fayne on IR as another option because he is our weakest d-man right now( toss up with Gryba), put Fayne on waivers, at his salary he won’t get picked up and he can get his head straightened out in Bakersfield. Sooner or later we need to deal with this bad signing as well. Thats why I am so concerned over any transactions involving getting defencemen as our track record has been below dismal and I include Sekera in that mix too as a not so swell deal.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    We need to take advantage of the Islanders situation here.

    Trading Klefbom for Hamonic does nothing for this team, in fact there’s a good chance a trade like that would make the team worse, at best it’s a lateral trade.

    East Defenseman ALWAYS struggle when they move to the West. Less time to make a decision, bigger bodies…

    Klefbom is thriving in the West, which means he would probably end up being an all star for the islanders for the next decade in the East.

    Trade Schultz, a second rounder and a prospect for Hamonic.

    Anything else would be an overpay.

    • Cape Breton Oilers

      The time is now to trade our 1st round pick. It will never be more valuable than today, currently a 1st overall given the current standings. Let’s maximize its trade potential. Here’s a crazy outside the box idea that would work with all of the salaries involved for each respective team…

      To Arizona: Oilers 1st round pick (another chance to land Austin Matthews from Arizona), Yakupov, Schultz, Reinhart (all players in the age range to fit into the Coyotes rebuild)

      To Islanders: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (they improve their team now, which is their current focus)

      To Oilers: Hamonic, Islanders 1st round pick

      Pouliot – McDavid – Eberle

      Hall – Draisaitl – Purcell

      Korpikoski – Nuge – Pakarinen

      Hendricks – Letestu – Klinkhammer

      Nurse – Sekera

      Klefbom – Hamonic

      Davidson – Fayne

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        Why would we trade OEK for Hamonic?

        I’m sure we can get Hamonic for less than 2016 first, Yak, Schultz and Reinhert.

        Terrible idea.

        • Cape Breton Oilers

          Have you heard of the salary cap?

          OEK has a higher cap hit than the Oilers can afford. Hamonic does not.

          And our first, Yak, Schultz and Reinhart is for Hamonic and another 1st, not just Hamonic.

          Try reading the whole context of the post next time.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            You want to trade Yak, Reinhert, Schultz and a lottery pick for Hamonic and a late first?

            A first overall, another top five pick in Reinhert and potentially Austin Mathews plus Schultz.

            For a defenseman who has asked for a trade, with only four teams on his list. Reading the whole context.

            Terrible idea.

  • Cape Breton Oilers

    I encourage the Oilers management………Please do NOT give up on Brandon Davidson……..this kid belongs and his style of play seem to be exactly what we are discussing with Travis Hamonic.

    I suspect BD is trending to be exactly the same type of player!

  • Harry2


    I think ill defer to MacLellan. He seems to know what hes doing. Would you rather them dress Ference? Its about time the best players get to play. Who cares what their experience level is.

    This isnt MacT/Eakins running the show

  • Petrolero

    play the best lineup available period. The NHL is not a development league and these guys are not 15 years old. Last i Checked they are getting paid to play, if they can handle it then handle it. By Lowetide’s logic what is Nikitin doing in the AHL and why is Ference eating popcorn most nights?

    This is what they’ve got, the argument should not be can they play 3 rookies, it should be they need a better, more experienced d man on the top 3.