Brandon Davidson (photo by Rob Ferguson) established himself a year ago as a bona fide NHL defender. He did suffer some injuries, and that could impact management’s decisions on the fall roster. Along with Oscar Klefbom, injury worries to Davidson mean the lefthanded NHL defenders—a fine group—could remain intact, to make sure there is enough depth for the coming year. Does Peter Chiarelli have an area of strength he can deal from?
- Brandon Davidson—Missed a few games with a rib issue around the new year, and then Dustin Byfuglien ran over him in early March. All is apparently on schedule for the fall and Davidson should be able to flourish on the third pairing—while also being first choice to step in on the second pairing when required.
Oscar Klefbom—What a wild year. The latest we have heard is positive, as Jason Gregor wrote here at ON a few weeks ago (week of June 23): Oscar Klefbom was in Edmonton this week and he skated four days with
the trainers and medical staff. The first day his foot didn’t feel
great, but the next few days he felt fine and was very positive about
how he felt. I asked (Peter) Chiarelli about Klefbom’s progress and he
confirmed he had been skating and everything looks great. The past week
was as much a mental exercise as physical. He needed to get on the ice
and feel good and he did. A healthy Klefbom is a must if the Oilers hope
to improve this season. Source
This is league-wide, players with 300 or more 5×5 minutes in 2015-16. Davidson, a flat-out rookie with zero draft pedigree, was an extremely effective player in Corsi for 5×5 percentage relative to team. It is just one measure, but an important one, and that is reflected by the company kept on that list.
Blue is good, light blue less so, pink is meh, brown is bad. Big bubbles are lots of playing time. Upper left quadrant is the tough minutes (tough opponents) and shows Klefbom, Sekera and Fayne as the prime choice for those minutes last season. Brandon Davidson, according to the Vollman, was playing reasonably difficult opposition and holding his own.
NEW JERSEY VOLLMAN
Adam Larsson has a big bubble and it is in the toughest part of the graph—that is the same spot he and Oscar Klefbom will probably occupy next season. Will the bubble be blue for Larsson? He is coming to a better possession team—although Taylor Hall was part of that team—and should be an upgrade on RHD for Edmonton in the coming year. I say should because despite improving metrics in regard to measuring defensive ability in hockey, it is a terribly difficult frontier for hockey analytics.
If the Oilers are going to keep Sekera, Klefbom and Davidson—which makes sense—are there candidates from LHD who could be sent away? Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart are candidates, but the Oilers are building a big, strong team with an edge—something Nurse brings and Reinhart can bring to the game.
The other men are prospects still building value, it is doubtful Edmonton would move them unless the deal was of the bigger variety.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Despite the large number of lefties on the roster, and a clear need for a RHD who can move the puck on this team, reading the tea leaves right now leaves us with a loaded left side entering training camp this fall. GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed as much recently speaking to Bob Stauffer:
Chiarelli to Bob: “Notwithstanding the
cries of protest for a power play specialist, I’d be very satisfied
with where we sit today. We’re getting Oscar Klefbom back. He’s a
helluva defenceman. It’s going to take him some time to get him up and
running. He missed a lot of games last year. We’ve brought in Adam
Larsson, a high pedigree player, although not as well known to this
community as in other hockey circles. He’s a right shot, that’s important in the righty/lefty scheme of things. He can play an offensive role. No, he’s not an offensive specialist. He can play on a power play.
No, he’s not a power play specialist. So all things being equal, if we
were to start today with our ‘D’ I’d be quite happy. I’d be very happy.
Yes, I’d like to try to get someone that can complement a power play and
push the puck up to the forwards. That’s no secret. We will continue to
look at. There’s still a couple that are out there. They are hard to
Based on that quote, and the discussion above, I think it is more likely we see a Benoit Pouliot or a Nail Yakupov heading out of town—and we should, at least to a certain extent—entertain the idea of the 2017 first-round selection being in play. Starting now.