2014 Oilers rookies: the rear guard.


Mar 30, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Martin Marincin (85) skates against the New York Rangers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers rookies and the University of Alberta Golden Bears are facing off this evening at Clare Drake Arena on the University campus. The rooks boast the most skilled lineup in recent memory and the Golden bears are the current CIS champions. If you can’t make it to the arena you can watch the live stream here at 7 pm.

As for the rookies, here is the last part of my review: the rear guard. This is the one area where the organization has built a depth ready to go head to head against most prospect pools in the NHL. The Oilers defensive prospects are big, mobile, and skilled.


BIO2013-2014 STATS
Ben Betker  6’6215199468721-4EVERETT WHL
Brandon Davidson  6’2210199168513-5OKLAHOMA AHL
Martin Gernat  6’5187199357421-12OKLAHOMA AHL
Oscar Klefbom  6’3213199348110-8OKLAHOMA AHL
Joey Leach  6’2187199259082BAKERSFIELD ECHL
Martin Marincin  6’418819924406-2EDMONTON NHL
David Musil  6’4203199361212-10OKLAHOMA AHL
Darnell Nurse  6’419319956413501SOO OHL

Ben Betker.6th rounder in 2013. Huge d man played relatively solid hockey last season in the WHL. He is back at camp and will most likely going back to junior as an overage player, given the Oilers have only 2 pots left on the 50 men reserve as of this writing. Interesting prospect indeed.

Brandon Davidson. 6th round pick on 2010. Lots to like about his play, and he has overcome quite a bit at such a young age. He is this year’s Taylor Fedun in that he has promise but is not quite there yet and the clock is about to run out given the conga line forming up behind him. The good news for Davidson is that in the case of Fedun, even though the Oilers decided to cut him loose, the Sharks saw enough and brought him into the fold.

Martin Gernat. 5th round in 2011. One of the two Slovak towers. Needs to put on weight and his game is still too chaotic, but he has time to arrive.

Oscar Klefbom. 1st rounder in 2011. I remember thinking he was starting to look more like a unicorn and less like a stud because of his delays in coming to NA. But he finally arrived and made the jump to the big league. He will battle it out with Nurse and Marincin for the last spot on the opening night roster with Marincin holding a slight advantage.

Joey Leach. 3rd rounder of the Calgary Flames in 2010. After the flames didn’t sign him, Leach went for an ATO with the Barons, ending up playing in Bakersfield. He will continue his pro career with the Lake Erie Monsters this season.

Martin Marincin. 2nd round selection in 2010. The Older Slovak. He is only the second defenceman to graduate through the Edmonton system since Jeff Petry and the first prospect not being the top pick to make the jump to the NHL in the official rebuild that began in the summer of 2010. He and Klefbom seem to be the real deal and will hopefully be Oilers for years to come. The organization needed someone not named Hall, Nugent-Hopkins or Yakupov to step up and be able to play on the main show.

David Musil. 2nd round in 2011. Big shutdown defenceman with some speed issues. His positional awareness and physicality might earn him a depth spot on the big club. Still has time to work on his deficiencies.

Darnell Nurse. First rounder in 2013, holds the distinction of being the first pick not selected at the top of the totem pole after 3 straight years for the Oil. A real stud he has all the tools to be the no. 1 shutdown defenceman the Oilers have been craving since Chris Pronger. Still very young, he has all the time in the world to put it all together.


BIO2013-2014 STATS
Ben Betker6’6215199468721-4EVERETT WHL
Darnell Nurse6’419319956413501SOO OHL
Martin Gernat6’5187199357421-12OKLAHOMA AHL
Dillon Simpson6’2197199342723-1N. DAKOTA NCHC
Jordan Oesterle6’01851992342172W. MICHIGAN NCHC
Connor Boland6’0200199467311-9PETERBOROUGH OHL
David Musil6’4203199361212-10OKLAHOMA AHL
C J Ludwig6’01951990135122N. MICHIGAN WCHA
Graeme Craig6’5202199371531-11SASKATOON; PRINCE ALBERT WHL

The new faces:

Dillon Simpson. 4th rounder 2011. He comes to his first rookie camp after finishing his college career and earning his degree. Will most likely begin his first pro year with the barons. Interesting prospect with decent size and offensive ability he is a prototypical college dman.

Jordan Oesterle. Signed by the Oilers last spring as a college FA. Similar to Simpson skills wise but a smaller guy he will also be on the OKC roster.

Connor Boland. Smallish undrafted camp invite to this year’s camp. Don’t really see him going places, although he is still young enough to improve his game.

C.J. Ludwig. It has been the summer of college FA defencemen for the organization with Ludwig joining Oesterle, albeit on an AHL SPC only. Looks a bit more skilled though.

Graeme Craig. Another undrafted player, he signed the same contract as Ludwig for the upcoming season. He is tall but could add some weight. He also seems to possess some ability with the puck.

These are the guys at the rear. This is where the Oilers are the deepest and strongest. For all the sorry busts on the pro parade at the back-end, this beacon of hope shines bright with possibilities and it has already produced two men ready for the NHL. Let us hope the team continues to improve on upcoming drafts and start to finally catch up to the depth of winning teams like the Detroit Red Wings.

A team in shambles looks like it is starting to build a solid foundation and a strong crop of defencemen leaves the organization with at least one area of strength to draw from. The club is loaded upfront, with the coming help at the back we can start talking playoffs as a near certainty rather than a desperate hope maybe as soon as next season.