GDB 63.0: Davidson, A Bright light in a dark season

GameDay

The Oilers are alone in 30th place with 20 games remaining. It has been another disastrous season. They are five points out of 28th place and six behind 27th and 26th. They are skating towards their sixth finish of 28th place or worse in the the previous seven years.

There is no joy in Oilerville. 

Connor McDavid’s presence in the lineup is the only thing keeping many Oilers fans interested, but during this 10th consecutive season of darkness there has been another shining light.

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Brandon Davidson.

Davidson was drafted in the sixth round, 162nd overall, in 2010. He played two more years with the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League before turning pro in the fall of 2012. Two months into his pro career he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He beat it, returned to the ice in February 2013 and finished the season strong playing 17 playoff games in the American League.

He continued quietly developing in the AHL over the next two seasons, before playing 12 NHL games with the Oilers last season.

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Six months ago no one had him in the Oilers top-six. He only dressed once in their first eight games, but when he returned to the lineup in the Oilers ninth game on October 25th, he was determined to make an impact, and he’s done so ever since.

Davidson has become the Oilers most consistent defender. He isn’t flashy, but you rarely see him associated with a major giveaway and he looks more and more poised.

How did this happen?

“More experience, with every game moving forward I’m starting to feel more comfortable,” he said.

“I believe I’ve found my comfort zone now, and now I want to push the limits and see how far we can take this thing. There is no end point right now. I keep getting better. I want to keep getting better. The effort is there and I’m just trying to do my job and make sure I take care of all the things I can to make sure I put myself in good positions,” he said with quiet, but secure confidence.

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While many Oilers have struggled, Davidson has managed to avoid a slump, and in fact his play has improved throughout the season. As we talked in the Oilers dressing room prior to this short two-game road trip, it was obvious Davidson was frustrated with the losing, but it hasn’t infected his confidence. He was satisfied with his progress and believes there is one area he can improve.

He wants to start producing more offensively.

“That is the next move. Defensively I have made ground. I feel good, I feel comfortable and now it is time to go to the other end of the ice. I was offensive in junior and it (producing offence) is something I’ve always thought about, even in the minors, and trying to get back to that. It is in my game for sure, it is about how quickly I can find it,” Davidson said.

How do you get offence back in your game?

“It is a mindset. My job is to play defence first and keep the puck out of the net. That is first and foremost and offence is a bonus, but I can see there is more there. At times I hold back, and maybe I need to jump up in the play a bit more and get shots through and on the net. I can definitely see it and I know what Jimmy (coach Johnson) is talking about and that is something I’m working on.”

In his final two seasons of junior Davidson tallied 101 points in 141 games. He knows how to move the puck, but he’s spent the last four season focusing on his defensive play. It has paid off, as Davidson rarely commits egregious errors or makes the wrong read in his own end.

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Now he wants to make better reads in the offensive zone and use his dangerous shot more often.

“I have to make sure I am getting myself open. I haven’t been able to use it (shot) for a long time. I’d like to use it every single game, multiple times. I feel good, I feel confident with it, but I just need to get the puck a few more times and I think that is me opening up and getting in a better spot so I can take those shots,” explained Davidson.

Davidson’s emergence as a solid top-four defender — he’s played 19+ minutes in 24 of his last 34 games — is more impressive when you consider his team sits dead last in the NHL. The losing hasn’t beat him down, it hasn’t zapped his confidence and he believes his years in the AHL have prepared him mentally and physically for the NHL.

“The grind of it all. There is a big exhaustion level I learned while playing in the minors,” explained Davidson. “How to manage that, how to recover and how to make sure my head is in it every single game. That was huge. I don’t think I would be able to perfrom the way I am without that development. The big part was learning how to manage the exhaustion and manage the mental toughness side of it,” Davidson said.

Davidson’s road to the NHL wasn’t easy. While learning the pro game he had to defeat cancer, and he believes that made him mentally stronger. When he was going through his treatment and couldn’t play the game he loved it fueled his desire to return to the ice and make the most of his opportunities.

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He has exceeded everyone’s expectations but his own, and as the Oilers wrap up another disappointing season, Davidson continues to improve and impress. Hopefully his confidence and determination rubs off on some of his teammates moving forward.

LINEUPS…

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Anders Nilsson might get his first start since allowing three goals on ten shots in 11:24 on February 7th versus the Islanders. He has allowed 29 goals on his last 184 shots (.842sv%) and it earned him a stint in the AHL. He had two starts, winning both and posting a 2.01GAA and .935sv%. He will need to be very sharp tonight against the Ducks who are 13-1-1 in their last 15 games.

The Oilers didn’t skate this morning and due to potential trades we won’t know the exact roster until close to game time. This is just a projection.

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**Edit. Clearly the Oilers want to win as McLellan has elected to go with Cam Talbot tonight again instead of Nilsson. After a solid performance last night by the players, it seems McLellan doesn’t want to risk Nilsson struggling early and giving the team no chance.*** 

Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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Ducks lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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QUICK HITS…

  • Could Davidson become the Oilers Jake Muzzin? Muzzin was a fifth round pick in 2007. He tallied 96 points in 126 games (.76 points per game) in his two years in junior after being drafted, while Davidson, a sixth round pick, produced .72 PPG in his two years post draft.

    Muzzin spent three years in the AHL before becoming a regular NHLer in 2012, a similar timeline to Davidson. Muzzin has produced more points in the NHL than he did in the AHL. He’s had the benefit of playing with Drew Doughty for most his career, having played over 2400 minutes beside Doughty, with Alex Martinez next at 680 minutes. Davidson won’t have that luxury, but Davidson is emerging as a solid top-four defender, and as he stated earlier he wants to keep improving and see “how far he can take this.” He has become the late round gem the Oilers have desperately needed.

  • McLellan said post game if Purcell and Schultz were available (meaning still not traded) they could draw in. If Purcell plays tonight I’d guess the deal they thought they had fell through. Why else would you rest him and then play him? He hasn’t struggled like Schultz has.
  • Kassian adds a different element (physicality) to the Draisailt line, and he has enough skill to keep up with Hall and Draisaitl. It is a nice combo and the Scrivens for Kassian trade looks better by the day. I could see the Oilers signing Kassian to a two-year deal. I doubt they go longer because of the small sample size, but re-signing him to a similar $2 mill/year deal would be good value, especially if he proves he can be effective in your top-six.
  • If you need any more proof that one player will not fix the Oilers look no further than the Oilers going 3-8-1 since McDavid returned. He is a dynamic player but he only plays a third of the game. You need a team to win, and one D-man won’t solve all the woes of the Oilers. It will help, but when you look at last night’s roster there are still seven or eight changes that need to be made before they are a competitive team.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Anaheim Calling

“If the NHL Draft lottery was held today, the Edmonton Oilers would have the best chance (20%) of selecting first overall…again. Hello, Auston Matthews.”

What. The. Hell.

If that doesn’t give you an accurate depiction of the Edmonton Oilers this season, well, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention. Here they are again–bottom of the league, with only the draft to look forward to. Or perhaps the Trade Deadline this coming Monday as well? Rumors have it that Edmonton will be one of the Canadian teams that will make large moves on that day. I mean, at this point, with the exception of Connor McDavid, it seems like anyone on the team can find himself with a new address come Monday, including longtime Oilers Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This is a sorely lacking of defense and the new OIlers GM Peter Chiarelli is not afraid to pull the moves to right this ship of a disaster.

TONIGHT…

Schultz

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Second half of a back-to-back set and they face the red-hot Ducks. Just don’t see a victory. They lose 4-2.

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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: David Perron scores.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nurse scores his first goal in 32 games when he jumps up in the rush and slides home his third goal of the season.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  


  • Explicit

    the ducks are chasing the kings for 1st in their division and they get a smaller crowd than the oilers who are in the 10th year of suck?

    good thing Katz didn’t buy a team in the sun belt

    • EZ76

      They have Dodgers and Angels, Lakers and Clippers, Rams and Galaxy.

      What about Edmonton? Football season is over. No basketball, no voleyball, no indoor soccer, no even arena football team.

      Entertainment for Edmontonians? Daryl Katz’s Ice Circus

  • .

    Anton CP wrote:

    One more “trick” question, who was the last top pairing D-man that was drafted and developed by the Oilers?

    A: Matt Greene.*

    The problem is that he was developed for the Kings.

    *Depending on what’s meant by “developed.” If we’re talking about playing 150 games in the NHL, then it’s Theo Peckham.

    • Anton CP

      Well…the Oilers have done a lot of those throughout the years…

      The Oilers, a farm team for the rest of 29 teams in the league for 20+ years.

      Anyway, at least next Tuesday that we can see McDavid vs Eichel.

    • Admiralmark

      Matt Greene a top pairing D? no guy.

      Petry was developed by Oilers and better the Greene or Peckham. But he’s a 2nd pair D man. Gilbert was a 2nd pair.

      But we have Klefbom and Davidson home grown. Nurse as well on the way if they would stop messing with his development for chrissakes.

  • Explicit

    would you guys trade eberle for 2 1st round picks? im not suggesting using the picks, but just for the value of having those picks to use in the summer to acquire something else in the summer?

    for example if boston traded Eriksson for a first, then flipped that first and there own first for eberle

    would that be enough value? would it be easier to aquire a dman with the 2 1st’s than having to fit eberles contract on another team?

    am I retarded?

    • D

      I like your thinking here in terms of getting around Eberle’s $6 Million contract size. There is risk in not being able to turn the two firsts into something of immediate value, but the idea is creative.

    • .

      . . . and there own first . . .

      If the Oilers 1st round pick is the first overall pick, then yeah, you’re likely being “retarded.” Auston Matthews alone is over-payment. IMO

        • .

          Sorry, you mean Boston’s pick (21st) and another 1st round pick that they might get for Eriksson?

          If that’s what you meant (you say “for example”)I think the problem is that the team taking Eriksson would be doing it as a buyer for a play-off run, not as a re-build from the bottom third of the league. So essentially you’re getting two picks in the area of 21-30.

          That’s a lot of contingency. It could work, but that’s a very narrow set of teams and conditions that would work for a 1-2RHD.

          • Explicit

            yup I agree. you’d be looking at 16-30, and I think you’d want to get something else from boston as well.

            but ya, it would be a narrow set of teams that would trade you a rhd for that. but the question is, is it a narrower or wider set of teams than those that would give you a rhd for eberle and his contract?

            the longer eberle plays with mcdavid, maybe the more teams would be in play

    • BlueHairedApe

      Tired of this. Trying to be like Donald Trump big guy? What’s with the references here towards handicapped people? Make you feel good about yourself? Grows some balls jackass

          • hagar

            Pretty sure you get upset about everything you can find to make you upset/give you you a reason to point out things that are “supposed” to make people upset.

            Must be a boring life!!

          • BlueHairedApe

            ‘Upset about everything’ huh? It’s only the second time I’ve criticized someone on this site in the last two years. Some commenters like him should be more sensitive to people with disabilities. Normally if we were sitting around a table together this would be a no brainer but because people can hide in their basement behind a computer screen it makes it okay for some people. It’s not right.

          • hagar

            Just the way it is man. Some people don’t see things the same way.

            I call lame cars g’y, and I tell my friends to not be ret’rded when they do something dumb.

            I don’t use the word c.nt around girls, but I use it to describe some girls when they aren’t around.

            It’s not the place for the discussion, but it is what it is.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    If Loui Eriksson is only worth one first I don’t see how Ebs is worth two, and the only reason Boston is even shopping Eriksson is cap related, so I don’t see how Ebs would even fit there.

    • Explicit

      that was just an example, but Eriksson is supposedly asking for more than 6, plus hes not signed and it would make sense for them rather than just letting him walk. plus eberle is much younger. but again, just an example

      trying to get creative because I think chia is going to have to get creative.

      I was just wondering what would be easier to aquire a dman. finding a team with a dman that would want and take eberle and his contract, or 2 1st round picks?

      just tossin #2 at the wall cuz these oiler games are boring

    • Admiralmark

      The Oilers have lost i believe 22-23 games so far by 1 goal. Schultz has been an absolute mind f$$kingly bad D man. Personally i believe Schultz has cost this team on average 10+ games a year.

      Whats worse is it took this long for management to figure that out. Pathetic talent assessment going on.

    • hagar

      It’s a lot on Leon and Darnell to keep going a full nhl season. A big reason why players get better in the AHL, even when they have nhl skill, is because of conditioning play with a hyper pro type schedule, against great minor league players.

  • Hockeyfan

    How is Davidson named a star when he let Rakell skate right by him? Hit him!!
    much better effort the past 2 nights. is it possible that jultz was affecting things that much?

  • Kurt

    Hall’s weak wristed attempt at dumping the puck in with a couple minutes left, that barely crossed the ducks blue line, but he still coasts off for a line change. That the the quote from eberle, “A lot of positives tonight.” sure show you why they will never lead the team into the future.

  • Kurt

    as per Jason Gregor: **Edit. Clearly the Oilers want to win as McLellan has elected to go with Cam Talbot tonight again instead of Nilsson. After a solid performance last night by the players, it seems McLellan doesn’t want to risk Nilsson struggling early and giving the team no chance.***

    nope. Nilsson was originally going to start but was a late game scratch due to potential trade in the works. Talbot playing had nothing with McLellan wanting to risk anything early.zip.