Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Want List – Defensemen/Goalies

Earlier in the week, Connor McDavid made it be known that he wants to score more goals this year so I gave you a list of what the rest of the Oilers forwards should want from the upcoming season. Time to follow up with a look at the back end and the duo between the pipes.


Oscar Klefbom should want to play 82 games. Let’s just start there and keep it simple. The most important thing for both Klefbom and the Oilers this season will be for him to stay healthy. The Swedish blueliner has only played more than 66 games once in his four years as an Oiler regular. If he can stay on the ice for even 75 games I’d consider it a success.


Adam Larsson should want Taylor Hall to struggle this year. I’m not going to bring it up with him but you know someone in the media is going to ask him if he feels more pressure this year because Hall won the Hart Trophy, stupid question in my opinion. Adam Larsson should really want to find some consistency this season because I believe he’s still a very good defenseman when he’s on his game.


Darnell Nurse should want a contract. Yes, I’m taking the easy way out on this one. Once he signs a new deal we can start looking at all other aspects of his game, until that happens the contract will dominate the discussion. I’m thinking 2 years with an AAV of 3.3, is that too much?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Kris Russell should want a solid start to the season. If Russell can come out of the gate and avoid major mistakes that directly impact losses he will have an opportunity to win some people over. If the Oilers plan on bouncing back they will need a steady season from Russell at even strength and on the penalty kill. 


Matt Benning should want second unit power-play duty. If you pencil in Oscar Klefbom on the first power-play unit I think it’s pretty clear Benning should be getting the first look with the second group. However, if Bouchard makes the team this conversation will most definitely change.


Andrej Sekera should want a full recovery. I don’t care how quickly Sekera recovers, even if he does play this season he once again won’t be anything more than a shadow of his former self. He needs a full recovery and more than enough rest time to attempt to salvage the final few years he has remaining.


Jakub Jerabek should want to play 60 games. Jerabek started with the Hab’s AHL affiliate last season and end it by lifting the Stanley Cup with the Capitals. The 27-year old played just 36 regular season games in 17-18 so I don’t think it’s reasonable to set a target around 60 this year.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Kevin Gravel should want to not be in the American Hockey League. Gravel has a contract and a number with the Oilers but I’m still not sure he begins the season in Edmonton. Gravel could start the year with a trip to Bakersfield if Bouchard impresses in camp and the team likes what they see from Jerabek. A trip down south wouldn’t be a surprise for Gravel who has played just 70 NHL games over his five year pro career.


Jason Garrison should want a chance to earn a contract, somewhere. Garrison could end up using the Kris Versteeg strategy and sign a deal elsewhere after spending the pre-season in Edmonton. While that may be a good back up plan for Garrison I don’t think it’s too hard to believe that he’s looking at the Oilers blueline and believing he can outplay Jerabek and Gravel in the pre-season, which he might be capable of.


Evan Bouchard should want at least nine games. After the draft, most folks were thinking Bouchard would at least get a nine-game look with the Oilers but since then the team has added Jerabek, Gravel and now possibly Garrison.  The one thing Bouchard has going for him is that none of the d-men listed above shoot right. If the rookie can provide a spark on the power-play it may prove to be enough to stick around.


Ethan Bear should want 15 games this season. I’d be surprised if Bear isn’t the first man to get the call from Bakersfield when injury strikes. We need to remember that he is a 5th round pick entering his second-year pro, if he can see action in 10-15 NHL games this season I’d consider it a success.


Cam Talbot should want to bounce back to the norm. Talbot finished with a .908 save percentage last season, well below his career average. Prior to last year his lowest save percentage was the .917 he posted in his first season with the Oilers. If he can bring that number back up to .915ish the Oilers will be just fine.


Mikko Koskinen should want to win more games than he loses. I’m still not quite sure what the Oilers have in Koskinen but I do know if he can go 12-8 in 20 or so starts most people will be happy with that contribution.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Dustin Nielson should want something to talk about in February. As a selfish radio host/blogger/man about town I honestly just want something to talk or write about in February. I’ve been in this market for almost a decade and only two or three times have the Oilers been worth talking about in March. Maybe I’m selfish, maybe I’m to blame.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Based on last year, maybe. Based on his rookie year, I predict improvement. Also, whoever works on the PP units should stay. Who cares which personnel are on the ice if the PP scores at a decent rate?

  • TKB2677

    I sure hope a media guy doesn’t bring up Hall. It was several years ago, let it go. Hall was a good Oiler but he was NO WHERE near the Hall that won the hart trophy when he was in Edmonton. The Hall in Edmonton was the same Hall that was in New Jersey his first season. A good player who didn’t buy in to the team, did things on his own and left you wanting more.

  • Redbird62

    Some Oiler fans and media may worry about Larsson vs Hall, but I am sure at the top of Larsson’s wish list are a healthy family and a healthy year for himself (I think he played somewhere around 20 games if not more with back issues) and that worrying about Hall does not even concern him. If he stays healthy, I think he will have a great year.

  • Redbird62

    I don’t believe Gravel is waiver eligible, so they risk losing him if they send him to the AHL. If after camp, they have decided Garrison or other options will be better and they don’t have plans to call him back up, then that is a risk they probably take. However, if their plan after camp is to have him on the roster once Bouchard gets his in 9 game stint, then I doubt they send him down.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Benning on the second PP unit??? Seriously? Benning is a tire fire in his own end of the ice when under pressure and that’s 5 on 5, I’d hate to see him under pressure on the PP. Sorry but Benning should only be out there as a last resort.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      I agree. I’ve wanted to see what Nurse can do on the pp, just because his game has some offensive flair to it. Nurse doesn’t have “the cannon” from the point but I still think his overall game is Pronger light. Nurse would definitely get more points on the pp over Benning.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Actually I like the idea of giving Nurse a try on the PP’s second unit, lord knows the Oilers could use some help on it, I’d say try it out in the exhibition games and see how it goes, be a better option than Benning there IMHO

    • btrain

      Now I like Benning just fine, but I question if he should be given the 2nd unit PP minutes. He is a puck mover but far from an offensive specialist. Certainly not the end of the world if Benning does get that PP time, he is capable, but I would prefer Nurse be looked at first. The guy has all the tools to be an offensive threat from the point, he just lacks the instinct/finish. I think with a little bit of confidence from his coach and opportunity to be put on the PP for an extended look, he would not only bring more than Benning in that role over time, his offensive instincts may even spill over to his 5on5 game. At the end of the day there is not one element of defending that Nurse is not more capable of than Benning and one would have to imagine that would be true on the PP as well.

    • Nurse starting carrying the puck up a lot more last year, and looked good doing it. I’d imagine he could do much the same on the PP, and his shot is actually pretty solid. He gives the powerplay a few different options…outlet pass, point shot, lead the rush from time to time. I like it.