Crossing The Rubicon


The other day Steve “Dangle” Glynn of Sportsnet (and Nation
contributor) asked a very fair, open question about whether or not the Oilers
would be better off drafting in the four or five spot so they could rightly draft
a defender. I think that’s a natural question to ask of a team with a draft
record like the Oilers, but I believe the answer is “no”. Edmonton isn’t in a
position to pin their hopes on an 18 year old defenseman. Edmonton is past the
point of no return.

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It’s absolutely true that as a result of being poorly run,
poorly coached, and generally terrible for almost a full decade (there were
pockets of light), the Edmonton Oilers have drafted high for many years. As a
result of that, the Oilers have taken a lot of forwards, as is the bias of the
draft. The Oilers have drafted first overall in four of the last six
years and over that entire time there has been only one defender taken at the
top of the draft. Every other year, they’ve taken a forward. Since the 2010 draft there
have only been three defensemen taken out of all the 18 players who made up the
top three picks in each of those years. That’s just 17% of top three picks.

Edmonton, by virtue of selecting the Best Player Available, took
forwards each time they were drafting in the top three. The end result of those
selections are Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Leon Draisaitl,
and Connor McDavid. At this time only Nail Yakupov is struggling to live up to
his billing.

When they weren’t picking in the top three of the first
three picks, the Oilers opted for defense. They took Klefbom 19th in
2011 and Nurse seventh in 2013. At present, those two players have the
hopes and dreams of the franchise resting on their shoulders. The team goes as
they go until Chiarelli plays Jedi mind tricks to fix his blueline. Klefbom
looks fantastic when healthy. Nurse looks like an NHL rookie with a ton of raw
talent. Add to that Andrej Sekera doing the dirty work, mix in a Brandon
Davidson, Griffin Reinhart, and a Jordan Oesterle and what you get is a team
with a lot of unproven defensemen in the ranks.

Is the fix to this situation going to be another defenseman
taken fourth or fifth in the 2016 draft? Is the answer to our prayers an 18
year old defenseman?

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No. I hardly think so.

The problem with another 18 year old defenseman is that the
kid is still at least two years away from being an impact player. There is no way
the Oilers are going into next season with any defender they pick. Zero chance.
That kid, if they do actually select him, is going back to junior.

Of course that also doesn’t address the fact that the two
defenders commonly listed at the top of scouting lists (Chychrun and Juolevi)
are both left handed and Edmonton needs righties. There is no secret at all to
the Oilers depth chart on D. Here are the lefties vs righties.

Klefbom Fayne

Sekera Gryba

Davidson Clendening

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Nurse Bear





We could keep going with this depth chart but the point is
made. The Oilers don’t need more left handed defenders. They already have four
they are committed to long term. What this team needs more than anything
else is no less than two right handed defensemen. One has to be able to play in
the top pairing. The other at least must tread water on the second.

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They need those players right now because the clock is
ticking. Edmonton has already wasted Connor McDavid’s rookie season. The next
two years will be the cheapest he is ever going to cost the Oilers against the
cap. After next season he can essentially name his price and the Oilers will
have to pay it. By the time his ELC is complete there’s a very real possibility
that 10M per season will represent a discount. When that happens this team will
very likely have to start making cost decisions on quality players.

The Oilers can’t afford to pin their hopes on an 18 year old
defenseman because they can’t wait around for him to get good. The window to
aggressively attempt to improve is now.

If Edmonton wins the draft lottery or picks somewhere in the
top three then, from my perspective, it gives them the most options. They can
trade that pick for the defender they need. Whether that’s the dream trade of
Matthews for OEL or a less exciting Puljujarvi for Shattenkirk, only time can
tell us. If they keep the pick it enables the Oilers to much more comfortably
trade Eberle for Hamonic or perhaps RNH (don’t do it) for Barrie.

Picking in a place where the high end forwards are going to
go opens a lot more possibilities for the team that will enable them to get the
prime-of-career rearguard they need. They’ve crossed the Rubicon. There’s no
turning back now.

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Dropping down in the draft to a place where the BPA is a
defender is not just something undesirable, it may be the worst scenario for
the Oilers if the goal is to find a player who can help them compete today. 

  • Eberle won’t get Hamonic IMO and he is our best point producing player other than McDavid. This team needs complimentary pure goal scorers, especially considering that we rank low in team scoring. The value of a return for Eberle is less than what he bring to the team. In terms of trade value : production ratio he is not the guy to trade.

    • Randaman

      This is just hilarious. I have been reading trade suggestions for three weeks now.

      After a win: Don’t trade anything of value for the pieces we require to improve.

      After a loss: Trade them all.

      What a bunch of idiots. Nobody seems to think we have to give up value to get value back (Ok, there are some lesser degree idiots).

      Over value, under value (usually Flame or Leaf fans).

      Why do we allow this pathetic team to make us feel so disillusioned every spring and then by Fall, everybody is planning the parade route or first round opponent at the very least.


  • Zarny

    Mr. Dangle is way behind the curve by like 3-4 years.

    2 years for a D drafted this year to be an impact player is best case scenario and more wishful thinking than anything. Rielly, Lindholm, Dumba and Trouba were drafted 4 years ago and I don’t think any are “impact players” yet.

    The Oilers need to improve a lot and quickly. Like in the next year or 2. And they aren’t 1 move away. Trading Hall/Nuge/Ebs etc for whatever 1 D you like doesn’t make Edm a Stanley Cup contender.

    So no, the Oilers aren’t better off drafting 4th or 5th to select a D. That really is a silly suggestion and only shows Mr. Dangle doesn’t know the Oiler organization very well.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hamonic isn’t even a top pairing blueliner, why surrender your best right winger for a second pairing D’man. I give Snow Klefbom, or no deal at all for Travis. That’s in line with what Snow’s been wanting all along anyways. Hall and Eberle are locks along with McDavid to be on your team next season. Depending if they land Mathews, it’s RNH and Draisaitl who are up for grabs for blueline help. Then you could even then take a shot at David Backes as your 2nd/3rd line center.

    • Zarny

      Travis Hamonic is a top-pairing D. Full stop. On any team he’d play 20+ minutes against top competition.

      Top-pairing D is not limited to the 3 or 4 perennial Norris candidates.

      Hamonic is not one of those perennial Norris candidates. That doesn’t mean he isn’t “top-pairing”. It simply means he isn’t Doughty or Karlsson or Keith.

      As for Provorov…of course there is value. Every team would be interested in Provorov just like every team would see value in Nurse.

      But why would Phi trade him? Even for skilled C or W? They have Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds and other skilled forwards so unless you are going to overpay they have no reason to consider moving Provorov. And while it’s possible Provorov finds a home in the top pair before his ELC is up; it’s far more likely he doesn’t find a home in a top pair for another 4-5 years if ever at all.

      The answer to the Oilers blueline woes is not a 20 y/o with zero NHL experience.

      • .

        I guess the #1 or #3-4 designation depends on how one defines the role.

        For me, a #1 plays on the PP and contributes to the PP–Seabrook but not Hjarmarsson or Barrie but not Beauchemin, for example.

        You can be a great D man and can play against top players but if you don’t do much offensively/ don’t help on the PP you’re not a #1 (just my own definition).

        Amongst D men, Hamonic is 102nd in ppg. That’s well outside Norris candidate country, but solid in 3-4 territory.

        What’s your definition of a #1D? Not an example, but a definition?

        And I’d agree the answer to the Oilers’ problems is not a 20 year old D man, . . . unless his name is Ekblad.

      • Oiler Al

        Hamonic for the most part isn’t even a top pairing on an average team like the Islanders.

        How can you call him a top pairing.He plays behind two guys who also are not the “Norris” type number ones.

        He is an honest second pairing guy on a decent team.

          • McRaj

            After the constant back and forth, I can say I agree with you. I totally agree with your definition of a #1 too. In my opinion there are only about 25 #1 D in the league. There are however that many first pairing D as well (Hamonic, Vatanen). If the oilers can acquire the both of them, they could be a committee D with playoffs and maybe if Klef can develop into a true #1 we don’t need to go hunting for one. But unless the oIles can acquire a Legit #1 or two top pairing right shots with different skill sets, they will not sniff the playoffs.

          • Oiler Al

            I am not against getting Hamonic, I just don’t think you give up an asset that’s an over pay.

            Yes he plays 25 min. at times [ I see they have split up Leddy/Boychuck, and Hamonic played with Leddy.

            Keep in mind that Davidson and Oesterle play 20 = 27 mins. some games, dosent make them number one pairings.

  • S cottV

    Agreed time hasn’t run out yet, but what is it gonna take to sign McD, Drai and Nurse?

    Add in the need for two top pairing d men, a RH #4 dman, a veteran 3c.

    Add in the 3 $6mm contracts, Sekera, Klefbom, Maroon, Kassian etc.

    In a few years, it’s probably not going to add up.

  • Mr.Snrub

    So the fanbase wants to trade an unspoiled dirt cheap Top 3 pick stud player so they can hold onto their three $6 Million dollar men who’ve proven time and time again that they can’t win in the big leagues?

    Brilliant as always Oilers Nation!

  • ziyan94

    Trade the pick if it’s #1.
    Get a d-man like OEL, making 1 of our current LD expendable to upgrade for a RD (ex: Nurse for Justin Faulk, since Canes are rebuilding).
    Then trade either Ebs/Hall (Ebs more likely) for another RHD like Hamonic or Shattenkirk.

    Klefbom Hamonic

    Sekera Faulk

    Davidson Gryba .


    Mix and match them as you please (I put Sekera Faulk together because they were linemates in Carolina)

    • McRaj

      That is an excellent proposal and something that is actually attainable even though the cost for OEL might be a bit higher than that. But many will disagree with you since they believe that #1 D are had for nickles on the dollar like the Oilers got Pronger 11 years ago.

  • RJ

    You know, if the Oilers drafted Chychrun/Juolevi, and started to build defensive depth (crazy idea, I know!) then the Oilers could trade a LHD for a team need.

    Like how Nashville traded Jones for a #1C. Or how Anaheim is likely to trade Vatanen for a team need. Or they could trade Chychrun/Juolevi to some sucker for a 1st and a 2nd down the road if they’re slow to develop.

    • Natejax97

      Wasn’t that the Draisaitl year…

      I like Neon Leon thanks…

      We will get our D fixed this off season.

      It would be a toss up in years to come who holds more value I think. Drai is pretty awesome and gonna get better.

      Wish we had them both lol…

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    Arizona is not going to trade OEL under any circumstance even straight across for Matthews. Shattenkirk seems to be the right guy at the right age, is he a UFA this year or next?

    • RJ

      He’s a UFA in in two summers.

      That is probably the only hiccup. Do you pay a big package for one season of Shattenkirk, then potentially watch him walk away?

      If the Oilers were going all-in next season, maybe you make the deal. But they’re not one piece away from a long Cup run.


    If we get Mathews(#1 pick), i would work the phones and see if ANY Norris/True #1 D-men could be had. Even if it meant adding Hall or Ebs to the pick. I just don’t see Hamonic style defenders taking us to the cup.

    If G.M’s won’t give us what we need, then we keep Mathews and go after free agent defenders and pray our forward strength can carry us.

    • Darth Oiler

      When we win the lottery I thought of a blockbuster we could do with Arizona

      To Arizona

      #1 pick

      To edmonton

      Conner Murphy
      There early first round pick.

      Then flip Domi and Reinhardt to Toronto for Morgan Reilly and the Leafs 1st (from Pittsburgh aquired in the Kessel trade)

  • Darth Oiler

    It’s the same old story the player the Oilers pick in the top 5 is going to be an impact player. It’s the player we pick in the second round (they can’t give it to Boston next year’s second round pick will be later) has to make an impact not next year but in 2 to 3 years. So players we may have to move because of cap issues can be replaced by young guys. Oilers draft picks are like new cars they lose half there value once you drive them off the lot. (What could we get in a trade for Mucil Pitlick and Lander together?) If this team can’t draft well the good days that are coming will be very short.