Photo Credit: Simon HastegŒrd / BildbyrŒn

Love the D

There has been a lot of discussion about the Oilers need to get their hands on an offensive d-man, preferably one that was forced to shoot right as a child.

Last week I took a look at some options for the Oilers if they were willing to move their 1st round pick in exchange for some immediate help. This week I think it’s important to expand on what Peter Chiarelli had to say at his year-end presser when asked about moving that pick.  “There’s a whole cluster of D that I like,” is what Chiarelli answered when Jim Matheson asked him if he would move the pick.

I’m going to take a look at which player’s likely fall into that cluster but first you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Is it smart for the Oilers to move the first rounder for immediate help on the blueline? Or would it be better to draft an offensive defenseman that can be a part of McDavid’s core group for the next decade? As you sit there and ponder that I’ll give you a quick look at the defenseman that the POHO (President of Hockey Operations) was likely talking about.


(2nd European Skater – NHL Central Scouting)

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5’11, 168, BYRNAS JR(SWEDEN) – Shoots Right


Boqvist, not unlike most young defenseman, still has some work to do defensively but his offensive upside is through the roof. He has all of the tools the Oilers would be looking for in an offensive blueliner. The young Swede has one of the hardest shots in the draft and isn’t afraid to let it fly on the power-play. In addition to a booming shot, he also has a set of hands that would be described as outstanding for any player regardless of position. I think Boqvist’s offensive upside isn’t being talked about as much as it should be due to some other Swede named Rasmus Dahlin, you may have heard of him, stealing the spotlight. 


(4th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)

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6’2, 193, London Knights (OHL) – Shoots Right


Bouchard is the highest scoring draft eligible defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League this year.  One Ontario based scout I talked to described Bouchard as a highly intelligent d-man in both ends of the rink. He isn’t afraid to jump up into the rush offensively and has good instincts in the d-zone as well. I’ve heard mixed reports on his skating but he does have a size advantage over some of his peers on this list. He is ranked in the top ten by almost every scouting service, I’m not sure he will be on the board at nine for the Oilers.


(5th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)

6’3, 180, Acadian-Bathurst(QMJHL) – Shoots Right


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Dobson doesn’t appear to be as much of a pure offensive threat as a few others on this list but is projected to develop into a well-rounded blueliner. His shot is more accurate than is it powerful which isn’t always a bad thing. He may be the most defensively sound defender in this group yet he was still over a point per game this season. Multiple scouting reports say he could use a little work on his top end speed; which would likely help his offensive upside at the next level.


(6th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)

5’9, 170, Michigan Wolverines(NCAA) – Shoots Left


If you are looking for a d-man who is calm under pressure and can make a great first pass then Hughes fits the bill. For the most part, he never looked rattled as a freshman in Michigan. He’s creative offensively and is an elite skater; which has allowed him to control the game at times. He does shoot left but one scout told me that he is very good on the backhand so I wonder if he could eventually work his way to the right side in Edmonton.


(11th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)

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5’11, 184, Soo Greyhounds(OHL) – Shoots Left


I wouldn’t call Sandin a late bloomer but he would likely be considered the sleeper of this group. The Swede has quietly put up good offensive numbers on the best junior team in the country. He plays in all situations for the Greyhounds. He hasn’t lit the world on fire offensively at international competitions but I believe he’s a guy who is just coming into his own. Sandin burst onto the scene playing alongside Boqvist at the Ivan Hlinka last year and his stock has only gone up since then. I could see huge numbers for him next season in the Ontario Hockey League.


(14th NA Skater – NHL Central Scouting)

5’10, 176, Spokane Chiefs(WHL) – Shoots Left


Ty Smith is so good offensively that his ability to defend probably gets overlooked. The 1st overall Bantam Pick in 2015 has always been deadly in the offensive zone but has really developed into a great two-way d-man during his time in Spokane. He has a great stick and a high hockey IQ; which leads to strong positioning defensively.  He doesn’t have a booming shot like some of the others on this list but can a run a power-play just as good as any of them. The Oilers are very familiar with Smith and a number of my fellow members of the local media seem to be pushing for him to end up in Edmonton.


This is how I would have them ranked based on the Oilers current needs.

  1. Boqvist
  2. Smith
  3. Bouchard
  4. Hughes
  5. Dobson
  6. Sandin

The bad news is that two or three of these players will already be off the board by the time the Oilers head to the podium in Dallas. The good news is that at least half of these players will be a viable option on draft day.

Once again you have to ask the question. Would you rather have a veteran in their late twenties on the verge of passing through their prime or an 18-year old that you could have under control for close to a decade?

As fun as trades are, calling one of these names in Dallas may be the best idea for the Oilers end goal of Stanley Cups while Connor McDavid is on board.

Recently by Dustin Nielson

    • Ben918

      Take anyone for Russel or Sekeras. I say you trade crazy contracts. Give up Lucic, Nuge and Sekeras for Bobby Ryan and Karlsson. Ottawa had a lot of interest at the trade deadline for their centers. Adding a top 6 in the form of Nuge would allow them to get value for one of their others and improve in that position. Bobby Ryan has a ridiculous contract but it is only 1.5 mil more than Lucic’s (but longer term). Still Ryan did great at the end of the year including a 4 point night. He has a much better chance of succeeding than Lucic does and if anyone can get him going it is McDavid or Draisaitl. Karlsson will be looking at a huge raise in the 7-8 mil a year after next year. Cap space the Oilers have and have more of with Nuge, Lucic and Sekeras gone. Sens will lose Karlsson for next to nothing if he is a rental rather than trading him this summer. They get a solid defender in Sekeras back that saves them money and quite frankly they can leave exposed during the expansion. Lucic also needs a change of scenery and if it saves them money they can part with him, keeping some of his salary in another trade and still be far ahead. This fills out both teams and Ottawa gets value for one the best defenders in the game. Trading bad contracts is about the only way the Oilers will part with Lucic, Russell and Sekeras before the expansion unless they buy them out but the contracts are so crazy that there is little cap advantage to buying out any of them. Chiarelli really screwed us.

      • 99bestever

        Yes. Trade who ever you can to get Karlsson as he makes the Oilers an instant cup contender. In 05-06 the Oilers had a mediocre team but the Lowe made his best trade and brought in Pronger. That trade took them to game 7 of the Stanley cup. Karlsson is the same kind of team changer Pronger was. Both Norris contenders and winners. The Oilers power play would go from 26 to 4-5 in the league.

        • 99bestever

          When I say trade anyone I do not mean the core of the team – McD, Nuge, Larsson. Nurse and Talbot. Nuge could go back to centre if they want Draisaitl.

  • camdog

    I’d have to look at the Oiler expected protected list for potential expansion draft before I’d be interested in moving the pick. By the next expansion draft one would expect that the Oilers will be losing a good NHL player this time.

    • Ben918

      Problem is the NMC’s are the ones you want to part with. You leave either Nurse, Klef, Larsson or any potential veterans we sign to be poached and they will be. Oilers can protect all the offence that is really needed. All that would be left if character guys like Strome or Kassian. A dman is who they would take because our worst two have NMCs. It would be INSANE to trade either the first or second round pick with an expansion draft coming.

    • Ben918

      What is missing from this article is the forwards available when the Oilers take the podium. Oilers need a top RW defender. That is the hole they need to fill on the blue line. The rest is pretty much set in stone. You have Nurse, Klef and Sekeras on the Left and Larsson, Benning, Russel, Bear on the right. If the Oilers can fill the hole by say, signing one of the best defenders in the game, pending UFA John Carlson, then Russel becomes their 7th defender and Benning is useless in a year when Bear gets more NHL experience. During a draft you take the best available player and that more than likely will be a forward.

      Joseph Veleno C/LW – He is fast and known for being able to make plays at top speed. He is a big guy and he plays to win. “He makes players around him better” (elite prospects). Known for his ability to play a full 200 ft game the two way forward would be a great addition to the Oilers.

      Barrett Hayton – another Canadian born C/LW and almost the exact same size as Veleno. Both are roughly a point a game player and dominate in either end. Basically he is reported to be just a fraction less all around than Veleno but most like a future top 6 forward in the NHL.

      Joel Farabee – is my favorite sleeper. Hockey prospects has him ranked 8th but 12-16 is where most have him. He is a left wing and I think he slides due to his 168 lbs. Something that can be trained. What can’t be trained is his amazing hockey IQ. “Dangerous two way forward” (ISS) that uses his speed to make things happen each and every shift. 31 goals and 39 assists in 57 games this year. The kid can do it all. Expect big things from this guy.

      There are great dmen in the draft but statistically a forward is the best pick unless you are taking Dahlen. It also happens that a forward is what the Oilers need most. Again unless they win the draft lottery. Then you take Dahlen. That guy is crazy good.

  • teammate michael

    Draft. Develop. Rinse. Repeat. Chias record the man is an idiot when it comes to trades and free agency. Clearly. On the other hand he does and has been successful drafting. Other than Rheinhart. Trading for a winger is stupid. Signing one late August is a wiser move. Wingers should be cheap and complimentary. Lucic showed what free agency should never yield.

  • Frank Rizza

    Very simple me to me. Make the pick! This team isn’t winning a cup next year so I would take a defenceman. In fact with the high cost of acquiring defenceman in this league, I don’t know what you wouldn’t take as a many as you can. Develop and trade them if you have too but defenceman all day.

  • Jay (not J)

    Yeah, cuz all 6 of those guys are going to be able to come into the league in their rookie season and play like they’ve got 200 odd games under their belt. I’m glad to see that the sense of urgency felt in some segments of the fandom hasn’t overwhelmed oilersnation, but a 2 to 4 year plan to develop a dman isn’t going to fly with many and I can’t see PC believing that’s the best way for him to hold his job. If they don’t have to trade the pick that’s great, but they need to fix the defense now, not start a development plan that won’t pay off until the lockout.

  • Dr Dragon

    Bode Wilde and Ryan Merkley should have been on the list too. If the Oilers fall back to 12 then they should be looking at those 2 more so Wilde. If the Oilers stay at 9 then they have to draft one of Boqvist Bouchard Dobson. Only way i see Chia passing up on them is if Oliver Wahlstrom slips to 9. He would be a perfect fit next to Connor. Wow imagine Connor actually playing with a real sniper which he hasnt yet in the 3 years he been in the nhl. Please Chiarelli dont screw this up

  • Arfguy

    No, it’s not smart to move the first round pick. This team is so dumb when it comes to making moves, trading the first rounder would be a strong sign that “We cannot draft what we need, nor can we develop what we need. So we will trade for what we need and hope that it all works out.”

  • Ben918

    Defense is a gamble. I hope the Oilers win one of the lottery picks. It would be huge. There are other notable players in the first draft. Bode Wilde is one that I would trade down and feel comfortable taking. He is just under a point a game and he is a “beast” defensively (elite prospects). Incredibly smart two way defender. 6’2 and 200 lbs, he is already a solid guy. Basically he is a more talented version of Larsson.