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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

Will the Oilers regret losing Jordan Oesterle?

2016-17 Edmonton Oilers: No. 82 LD Jordan Oesterle

After three seasons of toiling in the minors, it looks like Jordan Oesterle could be about to become a full-time NHL defenceman. The only problem, at least from an Edmonton Oilers perspective, is the team he’s set to make that transition with: The Chicago Blackhawks.

Oesterle signed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks at a modest $650,000 cap hit on the first day of free agency. As The Athletic’s Scott Powers notes, not only does Chicago have openings on its blue line, but given the level of interest in Oesterle around the league it might be difficult to get him to the AHL:

Oesterle could begin the season in the NHL. He was pursued by a number of NHL teams in free agency, and the Blackhawks likely wouldn’t want to risk putting him through waivers.

Oesterle is not a sure thing to make Blackhawks next year, or to have a significant NHL career. But he’s got a few factors working in his favour.

The first is that Oesterle has evolved into a high-end offensive defenceman at the AHL level. He had 25 points in 65 games as a rookie with Oklahoma in 2014-15; last season that progressed to 32 points in just 44 games. This is a player who has been making progress during his time in the minors.

That progress was evident during his two-game cameo last season, and it’s probably worth noting that one of those games was against the Blackhawks. Oesterle was incredibly assertive offensively, jumping up on the play, hammering the puck when he got an opportunity. He’s an exciting player, and didn’t allow the fact that he spent most of his NHL minutes on his off-side to stop him.

That didn’t particularly surprise me, because Oesterle’s speed was a known quantity, and obviously he has a significant offensive dimension. What did surprise me was his work defensively; he was good at using his stick to break up plays and more physically combative in one-on-one battles than I had expected.

We’ve seen plenty of fast defencemen with offensive ability make the grade in the NHL in recent years, with several of them similarly sized or smaller than the 6’, 182-pound Oesterle. One such player is Oesterle’s replacement in Edmonton: ex-New Jersey Devil Yohann Auvitu. The 5’11” 192-pound Frenchman is a few years older than Oesterle, but brings the same promise of speed and offence to the Edmonton blue line.

Like Oesterle, Auvitu’s hold on an NHL career is precarious, and like Oesterle it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he finds himself on the waiver wire at some point next year. One of my minor subplots for 2017-18 is whether Auvitu can deliver more than Oesterle; at this point it really could go either way.

Bottom line: Jordan Oesterle developed for three seasons in Edmonton, and in 2016-17 did a good job of setting himself up as a full-time NHL option. This coming season will be the test of whether he’s good enough to play in the majors; it’s just a bit of a shame for the Oilers that the test is going to come in Chicago.

Previous year-end reviews:

  • Jaxon

    I don’t see him reaching heights that will have Edmonton regretting much. An NHLe of 28pts as a 25 year old is decent but 25 year olds don’t improve much and I doubt he’ll be able to bring all or even much of that offence to the next level as he’s never shown much offence at lower levels. I think Paigin and Jones will bring more offence, overall game, size when they finally arrive. And with Nurse, Klefbom, Sekera already on the roster, there wasn’t a lot of room for him anyway. You could argue that Russell stands in his way on either side. Larsson is certainly ahead of him on RD, and likely Bear will surpass him, too. Bear’s NHLe in the playoffs in his 19 year old season was 34! Paigin’s NHLe with Sochi in his 20 year old season was 48! Give them 5 years (where Oesterle is now) of experience and growth and see how they compare. Caleb Jones is also sneaking up to Oesterle’s level very quickly with an NHLe of 22pts in his 19 yr old season and he has the speed to back it up too.

    • Jaxon

      And Benning achieved an 82 game pace of 20 pts in the NHL last year in his 22 year old season.I don’t think NHLes count for as much once you pass 23-24 years old. I think Oesterle’s more in the Brad Hunt, Adam Clendening mold but with less offence, or maybe Philip Larsen is his upper end. In other words, not much to worry about.

    • NoBuBlackOPS

      You bring up some valid points especially the NHLe numbers. One thing though in regards to paigin bear and jones they are all at least one if not two years away from significant NHL minutes. Paigin I could see getting games this year if he adepts nicely to the NA ice size. Also I give paigin a slight edge over jones and bear for possible NHL deployment this year cause of his Pro experience. In no way should jones or bear be playing in the NHL unless there are utterly dominant in the AHL. All these Young Dmen need time something Osterle on a 1 way 650k two year contract would provide for the oil as far as added depth goes. The only real question is weather he is a better fit than Avitu for the oilers.

  • Jay

    Yes they will. Just like how they’ll regret losing Hall, Eberle, and Yakupov, the picks they wasted on Reinhart, and pretty much everything else they do. It’s time to find a new GM if you want a chance at a Cup.

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      Haha – nice try, troll. Everything you say is ‘opposite Oilers’ no matter what they do. If you’re telling us to get a new G.M. I know it’s only because you’re scared we’ll keep the one we have! 😉

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      I don’t regret that we traded Hall for Larsson, got rid of Eberle(who didn’t show up in the playoffs) and I don’t think anyone regrets that we traded Yakupov.

      I dp agree that the Reinhart trade was bad but it was a risk in the hopes that he could have jumped into the NHL the year we got him. Didn’t turn out though. Oh well.

      Chia has completely overhauled the team and made some really good moves.

      • FISTO Siltanen

        Agreed.

        Funny how the 1st, 2nd and 4th overall picks were all available to Vegas in the recent expansion draft and the only one picked was Reinhart.

        Chiarelli might not have been that off base with his assessment of Grif’s potential. Overpaid, sure, but he might be an NHLer yet.

    • Leichs

      Haha oh look hes back again. We regret trading yaks and ebs. Yeah man i really wish we still had yak here. Hes been lighting it up since we traded him, lighting up other teams pressbox

    • Jay

      Too many Dmen ahead of him in the system? Deadmonton has one of the weakest and most shallow defenses in the league. The Flames’ top 5 consists of Giordano, Hamilton, Brodie, Hamonic, and Stone. We also have a great defensive prospect pool, including Kulak, Andersson, Kylington, Fox, and Valimaki. Stop trying to make yourself feel better.

      • Mike Modano's Dog

        Stop coming by Oilersnation to talk about your fLames. Nobody cares. Go to flames nation to talk about your pathetic team…except nobody cares there either, after losing every game to Edmonton and in the playoffs last year.

        Better yet – why don’t you take up a new sport because Edmonton has this hockey thing wrapped up for years to come! The NFL season is starting and they love trolling there…lol.

      • oilman3

        So Calgary has a good defense. So what? Flames fans droned on incessantly about that before last season and then…another quick end to a mediocre season. The fact is Calgary can’t solve their goaltending issues and have a very bland and uninspiring offense. We know how you guys love to brag about Jenny, but come on, if he’s your offensive star, you’re not going very far. Don’t forget Gio is getting older and your new defensive acquisition seems injury prone. Maybe wait till Calgary actually wins a game against Edmonton to come onto an Oiler board and talk about how you’re so sure your team is superior even though we all know the truth. Honestly, it boggles my mind that Flames fans have the nerve to keep bashing the Oilers after being so utterly and completely dominated by the Oilers last year.

      • Bob Cobb

        You have no forward depth, neither Foo or Versteeg scare anyone and that’s all you’ve added.
        Defense, remotely unchanged from last year, added Hamonic, still overrated.
        You have 2 unproven goalies, Smith is too old, and Lack hasn’t shown to be a starter.
        Phlegms are sunk already and the season hasn’t started.

      • Dwayne Roloson 35

        Our defense is pretty decent. We wouldn’t have had a 103pt season if we had the weakest defence in the league.

        We have a pretty good prospect pool as well with the WHL d-man of the year in ethan bear along with Jones and Paign. We definitely need some more prospects as most of ours have made the jump to the NHL recently.

        For someone with a high IQ, you’re not that smart but I think it’s safe to assume you’re just here to be a dick.

      • All Ice

        You’re getting taken to school kid. Both Stone and Hamonic were among the worst D in the league by corsi last season. A point that has been covered by the Lames Nation quite well. Gio is on the wrong side of getting g old and you don’t have the goaltending to cover it up. Smith is 35 and can’t handle more than 55 games a season and Lack was publicly shamed by his own coach in the media last season for his terrible play

        • madjam

          Add Brodie , as he is another Flame with a huge regression last year . Take an aging Gio and a Hamilton who is of no use physically , and the Flames have the most over rated defence probably in the NHL . Has Hamilton found a body to hit yet , or is it just the way he plays hockey – to avoid it ?

        • Jay

          Stone and Hamonic are both coming off down seasons and will rebound next year. If you look further back into their stats, you will realize that last season was merely an aberration. They are both still relatively young and are not declining.

      • Jay (not J)

        That defence is so good that Calgary spits out goalies like black jelly beans. You can have it. A good defence makes decent goalies look great, but Calgary’s has been ruining NHL talent ever since Kiprusoft pulled the chute. Hamonic’s going to be the difference? He sure was a big help for those Islanders last season…
        Don’t sweat it though, it’s still summer so you duck reality for another couple of months.

      • Oilerchild77

        Dude. I would put the Oilers top 6 against yours down there in Cowtown any day. Is the Flames better? I would say yes, but not by much. And the third pairings? Oilers by miles, bud. Also, the Oilers have a better prospect pool on D than the Flames. That’s a fact. Wake yourself up and face facts.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    What really bothers me about this is Oesterle > Keegan Lowe and the Oilers let Oesterle go and signed Lowe’s son instead. Why?

    Did they TRY to sign Oesterle and he chose to sign elsewhere, or did they not even try to get him. If it’s the latter I would fire Kevin Lowe right now for his ‘input’. Nepotism didn’t do much for us with when we drafted Frank Musil’s son early in the 2nd round and it won’t do much for us unless it’s based on merit only.

    Right now I see that roster move as an automatic downgrade. Oesterle is > Keegan Lowe is the only way I can look at this move, and that hurts every time I think of either player.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Osterle signed a 2-year 1-way deal.

      Lowe signed a 1-year 2-way deal.

      I’m sure the team would have preferred to keep Osterle but he got a great contract from CHI and likely wanted to move on himself considering the depth we now have on the back-end and on the left side.

      • Jagrbaum

        Agreed. I don’t think this move will really mean anything moving forward. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if either makes something out of their careers. Osterle isn’t exactly a lock to become a premier 3rd pairing defense man.

      • OTOF2

        Nice try to downplay the nepotism. Only the kool aid drinkers don’t see the obvious stench still entrenched within this team. Kevin Lowe, smartest man in hockey. Or did Howsen weigh in on this decidion too?

      • Mike Modano's Dog

        Good point about the 2 year 1-way deal. I didn’t realize that!

        I just hope that was why we didn’t sign him (contract), and that we didn’t just walk away from him. Thanks!

  • Oil4Brains

    Hey Small Jay, if your team is so deep on defense why did VK only select a 3rd pairing UFA from the Lames?? A player they could have signed a week later for free. It’s a clear indication that the Lames had nothing of any value beyond the protected list. Sad really!

  • Oil4Brains

    It’s only delusional Lames fan who would claim they will have better goaltending with goalies who have worst GAA and SV% than the ones they ran out of town again this yr. Ground hog day should be moved to the Fall for the Lames.

    I give it a month before FN are wanting Elliott/Johnson back!!

  • JimmyV1965

    I’m not sure how he will do but he will have a much better chance of making the big club with Chicago. Their defence is just awful. I mean really really really bad. If Keith falters or gets hurt, the Hawks are done. And their forwards are not much better. They have Kane, Saad and Toews and then a bunch of washed up vets and marginal prospects. The Hawks will fall off a cliff this year.

  • toprightcorner

    Chairelli likely didn’t see him ahead of Gryba as 7th dman, based more on style and with no other RD opening within a year, wasn’t going to give Oesterle a 2 year deal and potentially impede the growth of Bear, who PC seen as passing Oesterle in 2 years.

    Move more about developing new young dmen in the NHL and Oesterle didn’t fit NHL plans yet.

    No big loss

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      as well, Oesterle isn’t one of Chia’s guys either and Bear is. just another one of the Old Boys Club’s drafted players/free agent signings let go by Chia.