Todd McLellan didn’t employ many rookie defensemen in San Jose (one a year, on average) and even then those blue didn’t play very much as rookies. From 2008 fall through this past season, McLellan didn’t spend a lot of games on inexperienced defensemen. He auditioned a total of eight D in seven seasons:
- 2008-09: Derek Joslin (12 games)
- 2009-10: Jason Demers (51 games); Derek Joslin (24 games)
- 2010-11: Justin Braun (28 games); Mike Moore (6 games)
- 2012-13: Matt Irwin (38 games); Matt Tennyson (4 games); Nick Petricki (1 game)
- 2014-15: Mirco Mueller (39 games); Matt Tennyson (27 games)
Edmonton, during the same time frame, was sending 16 defensemen to the NHL (double the number for SJS):
- 2008-09: Theo Peckham (15 games); Taylor Chorney (2 games)
- 2009-10: Taylor Chorney (42 games); Theo Peckham (15 games); Alex Plante (4 games); Johan Motin (1 game)
- 2010-11: Jeff Petry (35 games); Shawn Belle (5 games); Alex Plante (3 games)
- 2011-12: Colten Teubert (24 games); Alex Plante (3 games)
- 2012-13: Justin Schultz (48 games)
- 2013-14: Martin Marincin (44 games); Oscar Klefbom (17 games); Taylor Fedun (4 games); Brad Hunt (3 games)
- 2014-15: Oscar Klefbom (60 games); Brandon Davidson (12 games); Jordan Oesterle (6 games); David Musil (4 games); Darnell Nurse (2 games)
Over these seven seasons, San Jose gave rookie defensemen 230 games in what was a window of 3,240 games (six D per game) that needed defensemen. That’s 7 per cent of their overall use in these seasons (providing my math is correct). Over those same seven years, Edmonton gave rookie D 349 games, or 10.7 per center of their overall use during those years.
No defenseman played more than 51 games during the McLellan era in San Jose, and no Oilers defenseman played more than 60 games for Edmonton. I think Darnell Nurse has a very good chance to play 60 games for the Oilers this coming season. Why? Two reasons. First, the club doesn’t have that many superior options, no matter Nurse’s lack of experience. Second? He’s a damn good hockey player. Full stop.
Nurse, when compared to last season, has the lasting power from puck drop to final horn. No "fade" late in the game. #OKCBarons
— Neal (@tweetneal) May 14, 2015
Darnell Nurse had a helluva game, three assists and solid defensive play. If he does start in Bakersfield, I can’t see him being any worse than the first callup—and that gets him to Edmonton by Halloween night. 60 games. That’s my bet. Same as Klefbom.
No surprise as Leon Draisaitl is named #WHL playoff MVP. I was very impressed by his play during two live viewings in the championship final
— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) May 14, 2015
Leon Draisaitl is an important part of this team’s future, no matter where he plays in 2015-16. If you start him at 3L behind Hall and Pouliot, that gives Edmonton five center’s every night and frankly Leon is a better bet on portside than guys like Matt Fraser or Iiro Pakarinen. The problem? Oilers are going to be hella-young as it is with McDavid. Talk of trading Leon Draisaitl is lunacy in my opinion. The team’s central cluster will be McDavid’s group and that’s important to remember. Remember the difficulty in drafting the defensemen after Hall—Eberle? Not the same issue with Nurse and Klefbom being older than McDavid.
The next trade Edmonton makes, and my guess it will be one year from this summer, has to be from the Hall-Eberle cluster. From an economic and team perspective, it just makes sense. Why? Well, dropping a $6M player in the summer of 2016 makes more sense than dropping Leon, who will still be in his entry-level deal. Jordan Eberle is (basically) seven years older than Connor McDavid.
The cluster’s center is McDavid. Starting June 26.
Now, that doesn’t mean you go out and trade any of Hall, Eberle or Nuge, but for Peter Chiarelli the Justin Schultz contract is the first challenge to building a cap-wise team. There’s a giant mistake waiting to happen on the Schultz deal and there’s very little wiggle room. Nail Yakupov’s contract makes him attractive to keep, but Schultz at $4M? Little chance he’ll deliver enough value to make the signing a wise decision and I’m not at all sure Schultz has a lot of trade value at this time.
One thing for certain? Peter Chiarelli is a far better choice to handle the Schultz challenge than Craig MacTavish. I’m hopeful that Chiarelli has ‘walking away’ as a legitimate option for Schultz negotiations.
CLUSTER AGE, 2015-16
- 18: Connor McDavid
- 19: Leon Draisaitl
- 20: Darnell Nurse, Bogdan Yakimov
- 21: Nail Yakupov
- 22: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom
- 23: Taylor Hall, Martin Marincin
- 24: Anton Lander
- 25: Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz
I’m using hockeydb for this glance and it’s interesting to see what McDavid’s presence does to the older group. Ideally you’d hold on to all of these players until year four or five McDavid, suspect that may be what Chiarelli tries to do. The most vulnerable player on this list? Justin Schultz. The NEXT most vulnerable? Probably Nail Yakupov, who’ll need a new contract in two seasons.
CLUSTER AGE, 1980-81
- Age 19: Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey
- Age 20: Jari Kurri, Andy Moog
- Age 21: Kevin Lowe, Risto Siltanen, Charlie Huddy
- Age 22: Dave Hunter
- Age 23: Dave Semenko
- Age 24: Matti Hagman
- Age 25: Pat Price, Lee Fogolin, Doug Hicks, Pat Hughes
LOOK at that 19-year old group! Holy hell. Oilers would do well to strongly consider using that No. 16 overall pick on an impact prospect like Timo Meier or Jeremy Roy. McDavid changes everything. Everything.
And for those suggesting Edmonton trade the Nuge, please stop. If we think about the value of building up the middle, then Nuge, Leon, McDavid, Klefbom and Nurse are all inner circle (along with Hall and Eberle) at this time. You may say ‘they have to trade someone’ but that isn’t, strictly speaking, true. The Oilers MAY have to trade a $6M deal when they sign McDavid to his second deal (depending on cap situation) but that’s a distant bell and we don’t know the cap number.
Keep both clusters, the Hall-Nuge-Eberle cluster and the McDavid-Leon-No. 16 overall cluster. Let them build to a crescendo over the next three seasons and then we’ll see what the cap looks like. The Edmonton Oilers are drunk with insane young players, they shouldn’t trade any of them until it’s time.
This summer isn’t the time. Add Niemi and Sekera in free agency, trade if you can using less than prominent pieces and get McLellan in here to identify the players he’ll want to run with through the end of the decade. Peter Chiarelli needs to start as he means to go, meaning quality moves when they present themselves in regard to trading this department of youth.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10:45-ish today (we’re on after the WHC’s). Scheduled to appear:
- Travis Yost, TSN. Semifinals are set, fantastic hockey ahead.
- Dennis King Oilogosphere Icon. Habs are out, that MAY be the entire segment! I’m sure we’ll get to McLellan etc.
- Derek, Fear the Fin. McLellan as a coach and what we can expect.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!