NO. 17 PROSPECT (winter 2016) DILLON SIMPSON

From the day he was drafted (5.5 years ago) through today, Dillon Simpson has been making progress. Most times, a statement like that is filled with hyperbole, but Simpson has improved every season, without fail. There was never a time during those years when it was obvious he would play in the NHL, but I can’t say it was surprising when he finally made his debut. This kind of progress is impressive, someone was bound to notice.

PREVIOUSLY NO. 17 ON THE WINTER LIST

  • December 2006: C Jonas Almtorp (0) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2007: G Jeff Deslauriers (62) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2008: D Johan Motin (1) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2009: D Cody Wild (0) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2010: L Teemu Hartikainen (52) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2011: D Dillon Simpson (0) (GM: Steve Tambellini)
  • December 2012: D Colten Teubert (24) (via trade, GM Steve Tambellini)
  • December 2013: L Anton Slepyshev (26) (GM: Craig MacTavish)
  • December 2014: L Anton Slepyshev (26) (GM: Craig MacTavish)
  • December 2015: D Joey Laleggia (0) (GM: Steve Tambellini)

This looks very reasonable, no one has emerged from this spot—and if Slepyshev does, well that is fine, too. I am guessing here, but as they arrive at the very precipice of the NHL, Simpson has passed David Musil as a prospect. That is the bet here, anyway.

simpson capture

WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

  • Redline: Stay at home defencemen with savvy and size. Son of former longtime NHL’er Craig Simpson has very good hockey sense and understands game situations instinctively. Had trouble getting qualilty icetime as a 17-year-old true freshman on deep, veteran defence corps of top collegiate program, but did show steady progress adjusting to the pace of play against older, stronger opponents. Rarely saw the ice on either special teams units. Sluggish skater with a short stride, but shows good gap control and lateral mobility. Tentative to do anything offensively and always has one foot back on defence. Doesn’t see the ice well and hurries to get the puck off his stick. Makes sharp defensive reads and is rarely out of position. Struggled 1-on-1 in the corners and down log against more physically developed forwards.
  • Red Line Report scout Max Giese: “He’s a smart player defensively, rarely out of position; but he’s a pretty bad skater and he doesn’t have any poise moving the puck. He’s a slushy skater with a short and sluggish stride. His hands are stiff, he struggles to put passes on the tape and he always hurries to get the puck off of his stick. He’s getting the ice time right now because of North Dakota’s injuries.”
  • Kirk Luedeke: A bit of a disappointing season for a player scouts had some real high hopes for coming in. The son of former NHL forward and HNIC analyst Craig Simpson (and nephew of television reporter Christine Simpson) has decent size at 6-1, 195. He scored 2 goals and 10 points in 30 games as a freshman and wasn’t overly involved in the offensive scheme/didn’t get a lot of ice time. He’s a work in progress who has some soft hands and hockey sense, but isn’t a great skater. He’s slow out of the blocks and needs to work on his stride to get the most out of his movement. Scouts see intriguing elements of his game, but after 12 goals and 41 points last year with Spruce Grove of the AJHL, more of an impact was expected from him- he did not deliver. This is not to say Simpson isn’t a legitimate NHL prospect- he is. He grew up around the game and has the natural athleticism to be a player, but this season showed that it is going to take time and he’d require a leap of faith for a team to draft him in the first two rounds.

todd simpson young stars

PREVIOUSLY ON THE TOP 20

  • Summer 2011: No. 24
  • Winter 2011: No. 17
  • Summer 2012: No. 14
  • Winter 2012: No. 10
  • Summer 2013: No. 10
  • Winter 2013: No. 8
  • Summer 2014: No. 7
  • Winter 2014: No. 8
  • Summer 2015: No. 13
  • Winter 2015: No. 18
  • Summer 2016: No. 17
  • Winter 2016: No. 17

Simpson got as high as No. 7 in the summer of 2014, and No. 8 that winter. Since then, club has posted two strong drafts, Simpson moved down the list. He is not going to post big boxcars, but he can move the puck and is a good defender. That has value. As is the case will the myriad lefties who play defense and own those skills, the big problem with being an Oilers prospect is the sheer number of players who look just like you. Simpson is battling, and made it into an NHL game in early December.

simpson-capture

2016-17

  • Gerry Fleming on Bakersfield performance 2015-16: “Overall, I think Dillon Simpson was our most consistent d-man all year long.” Source
  • Simon Boisvert: He has been there (AHL) for awhile now, he is 23. He always makes the safe play, I think if it weren’t for his lack of foot speed he would be in the NHL as a sixth or seventh defenseman. He will never generate much offense but he doesn’t make too many mistakes.
  • Todd McLellan: “He’s a heady player, he sees the ice well, he moves pucks. We have a lot of confidence in him. Last year at training camp, little bit banged up and didn’t really get himself on the map. This year through training camp he found a way to get on the map. We have a lot more confidence in him now than we did then.” 
  • Dillon Simpson: ”I think I have come a long way since my first year pro, continuing to build. It has all led to this. Confidence with the puck was a big part of building my game, and that goes a long way in a lot of areas. Whether its breakout passes or trying to get up in the play.”

simpson-ahl-numbers

This is a typical player card for a productive defender in the AHL—Simpson has puck-moving ability. As an example, his even-strength season in 2015-16 (57, 4-14-18) is a very close match for veteran AHL defender Brad Hunt in the same season (57, 5-14-19) at evens. Hunt’s shot gave him the power-play time, but Simpson can move the puck and that has value beyond goals. Does he have enough to be an NHL regular? That is what we are about to find out.

THE FUTURE

Simpson made his NHL debut just before his appearance on this list, so despite the fact he has NHL time (3gp, 0-0-0) there is no real sample size to analyze. That said, he has played well in limited viewings (48.1 in 32 minutes), so his first NHL look should be judged a success.

You know that story I am always telling you about 50 or 60 guys in the AHL who could slide into the NHL without a problem? 5-6D, fourth-line right winger? That guy? I think Dillon Simpson’s NHL employment will at least start there, and he has some advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages? He has a famous name, is well regarded (based on what we know) by the organization. NHL players have manufactured careers out of less, and it could happen just this way.

Disadvantages? The Oilers have a lot of players who have similar talents, and there are no guarantees Simpson can pass enough of them to emerge as one of the seven NHL defenders. It is a major item, because all 30 teams have their own Dillon Simpson’s in their own systems.

At this point, at the pro level, I have Simpson behind Griffin Reinhart and Matt Benning, and ahead of Jordan Oesterle, David Musil, Joey Laleggia and Ben Betker. Seems about right, and he has a chance.

THE 2011 DRAFT

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, No. 1 overall. The modern Dave Keon is playing the toughs and winning the possession battle, but the offense is lagging. Still a terrific player. Graduated.
  • Oscar Klefbom, No. 19 overall. Top 4D with close to complete skill set, healthy again this season and his offense is coming into view (9-23-32 in his last 82 NHL games). Graduated.
  • David Musil, No. 31 overall. Smart D, foot speed is a problem. A candidate the Winter Top 20.
  • Samu Perhonen, No. 63 overall. Big goalie back in Finland. No longer in organization.
  • Travis Ewanyk, No. 74 overall. Tough as nails checking C now in ECHL. No longer in organization.
  • Dillon Simpson, No. 92 overall. Two-way D who is an expert shot blocker and a good decision maker. He has an NHL chance. No. 17 prospect Winter Top 20.
  • Tobias Rieder, No. 114 overall. Scouting home run, he’s in the NHL. No longer in organization.
  • Martin Gernat, No. 122 overall. Regular in the Czech league. No longer in organization.
  • Laurent Brossoit, No. 164 overall. Flames draft pick acquired in Ladislav Smid salary dump. Has progressed very well as an Oilers prospect. No. 12 prospect, Winter Top 20.
  • Frans Tuohimaa, No. 182 overall. Playing in Sm-Liiga and lesser leagues this season. No longer in organization.
  • Iiro Pakarinen, No. 184 overall. Drafted by the Florida Panthers and signed as a free agent by Edmonton in June 2014. Now at 80 NHL games, injured currently. Graduated.

ROLLING TOP 20

rolling-top-20

  • The lefthandedness of this organization’s defense is incredible. There are eight defensemen listed so far, five of whom are lefties. Of the seven who remain, six are LH, meaning the current cluster under control is 73 percent lefthanded.
  • The players on this list who have played in the NHL during 2016-17 have been very good. Jesse Puljujarvi, Drake Caggiula, Matt Benning, Anton Slepyshev, Tyler Pitlick and Simpson have had a positive impact.
  • There are seven forwards on this list, and maybe two more that you can build a case for as being true NHL prospects (depending on your point of view). Among the things we should see on draft weekend 2017, and in college signing season, is a full wallop at improving the F depth chart.
  • The Oilers have two legit goalie bets to my eye, no idea which is the better bet but goalies are not as easy to predict.
  • If I am Peter Chiarelli, adding a second-round pick at the deadline (Boston owns Edmonton’s 2017 selection) is a priority.

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25 Responses to "NO. 17 PROSPECT (winter 2016) DILLON SIMPSON"

  1. StixMalone says:

    Really like that some of these draft picks are finally showing good progress. Now what to do with JP…

  2. Jethro Tull says:

    Simpson, eh?

    *steeples fingers*

  3. Confused says:

    Would rather pick up a RHD rental at the deadline

  4. geowal says:

    Jethro Tull:
    Simpson, eh?

    *steeples fingers*

    I’ll remember that name…

  5. kinger_OIL says:

    – Pretty good draft that 2011: 3 NHL’ers that we picked: and Simpson with cup of coffee, Musil

    – Pak and Brossoit: it think it muddies the picture from a draft evaluation to include guys we traded for years after a particular draft. They aren’t “our” 2011 draft picks: they developed elsewhere

  6. Klima's_Bucket says:

    kinger_OIL,

    I agree it was pretty good.
    But while we like pretty good, Tampa picked up:
    Namestnikov at 27
    Kucherov at 58
    Nestorov at 148
    Palat at 208

    That’s insane drafting for them in 2011

  7. Evilas says:

    Epic Rap Battles of History Wayne Gretzky vs Tony Hawk

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=goMYHB2Grvg

  8. Bag of Pucks says:

    Simpson, Reinhart, Musil, Nurse. This Oilers organization likes its bloodlines.

  9. Bag of Pucks says:

    Klima’s_Bucket:
    kinger_OIL,

    I agree it was pretty good.
    But while we like pretty good, Tampa picked up:
    Namestnikov at 27
    Kucherov at 58
    Nestorov at 148
    Palat at 208

    That’s insane drafting for them in 2011

    It’s the kind of drafting that likely wins you a Cup.

  10. Chachi says:

    Bag of Pucks:
    Simpson, Reinhart, Musil, Nurse. This Oilers organization likes its bloodlines.

    Gagner, Foligno, Ramage, Jones. Columbus sure likes its bloodlines.

    Steen, Stastny, Ferraro, Musil. St. Louis sure likes its bloodlines.

  11. Ryan says:

    The Arizona Coyotes rely on that structure that they play with to have success.

    Tonight, success was seven goals against from the Penguins. Even Jultz got in on the action with the 7th goal.

  12. GMB3 says:

    Pierre-Luc Dubois isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in the Q

  13. frjohnk says:

    Ryan: The Arizona Coyotes rely on that structure that they play with to have success.

    Get outshot, outchanced and hope your goalie stands on his head.

    It worked when they played the Oilers. Twice.

    Not tonight.

    Arizona is probably the worst team in the league. Though Vancouver and Colorado may have something to say about that.

  14. Chachi says:

    frjohnk: Get outshot, outchanced and hope your goalie stands on his head.

    It worked when they played the Oilers. Twice.

    Not tonight.

    Arizona is probably the worst team in the league.Though Vancouver and Colorado may have something to say about that.

    When Dave Tippett goes to Hell I hope he is forced to watch old Arizona Coyotes games for eternity.

  15. frjohnk says:

    Arizona has Vrbata, Doan, Stone and Hanzal who are UFA this year.

    Probably dump these guys for assets at the trade deadline but I wonder if Doan asks to be traded to a contender?
    I think Chayka is smarter than dinglenuts in Vancouver and will get something for Vrbata.

    Of course they have pretty much wasted OEL best years. He has 2 years left, does he want to continue with the rebuild or see greener pastures. We should look at trying to pry OEL from Arizona, we could offer Taylor……..Beck and a sweetener.

  16. Georges says:

    frjohnk: Get outshot, outchanced and hope your goalie stands on his head.

    It worked when they played the Oilers. Twice.

    Not tonight.

    Arizona is probably the worst team in the league.Though Vancouver and Colorado may have something to say about that.

    The playoffs seem so possible. 3 out of 14 teams are already on the brink. They would have to have a big turnaround to stay in the hunt.

    If you then concede spots to the California teams (L.A. still may be at risk because of Budaj) and Chicago and St. Louis, that leaves Minnesota, Nashville, Dallas, Calgary, Winnipeg, and us for the last 3 spots. We’re better than 4 of those teams right now and we only have to be better than 3 to make it.

    *forgot about Winnipeg the first time

  17. GMB3 says:

    I wonder if Columbus loses ground when their schedule begins to get more compressed (only 26 games).I wonder if Calgary, Winnipeg, and the Oilers see their fortunes trend upwards when they aren’t playing as often as they have.

  18. Georges says:

    Is Dillon Simpson a slushy skater with a short, sluggish stride?

    I love the prose from the scouts but, man, it would be mortifying to have someone take down my keyboard skills that way. Strictly two-fingered guy, keeps his head down…

  19. Georges says:

    GMB3,

    Columbus and its sky-high PDO is scary even though it’s been built up during a long stretch against non-playoff teams. And they’re on the good side shot metrics wise. So they get after you, they finish, and Bob shuts the door. I was hoping for good news when they’re on the road but none to be found. Here’s to the Oilers playing to the level of their opponent tomorrow night.

  20. frjohnk says:

    Georges: If you then concede spots to the California teams (L.A. still may be at risk because of Budaj) and Chicago and St. Louis, that leaves Minnesota, Nashville, Dallas, Calgary, and us for the last 3 spots.

    3 spots for the Pacific, Im guessing the California teams
    3 spots for the Central, Chicago, St. Louis and the Preds
    Arizona, Colorado and Vancouver are all basically toast.

    So that leaves Oilers, Flames, Wild, Jets and Stars for the 2 wild card spots.

    Dallas defense and goaltending are way too wobbly but Benn is one of the best, he and Seguin could drag them into the playoffs. But Id put their chances the lowest of the 5 teams.

    Unless Duby channels his early 13-14 season, I think the Wild have the best shot of these 5 teams of making the playoffs.

    So 1 spot for Oilers, Flames or Jets.

    Im saying Oilers, but thats with my beer googles on.

    Lots of track left. But it sure is nice to be in a playoff spot in mid December.

  21. kinger_OIL says:

    frjohnk:
    Arizona has Vrbata, Doan, Stone and Hanzal who are UFA this year.

    Probably dump these guys for assets at the trade deadline but I wonder if Doan asks to be traded to a contender?
    I think Chayka is smarter than dinglenuts in Vancouver and will get something for Vrbata.

    Of course they have pretty much wasted OEL best years.He has 2 years left, does he want to continue with the rebuild or see greener pastures.We should look at trying to pry OEL from Arizona, we could offer Taylor……..Beck and a sweetener.

    – Would Nurse, Davidson, 1st + anyone in AHL get you OEL?

    *Benning has bloodlines as well, Draisatl’s Dad played at Olympics. And Nurse and Jones come from professional sport families. There is an increase of athletes whose parents were athletes, mainly because of money by parents who know how to optimize sport development for their off-spring, and of course genes.

  22. nelson88 says:

    frjohnk: 3 spots for the Pacific, Im guessing the California teams
    3 spots for the Central, Chicago, St. Louis and the Preds
    Arizona, Colorado and Vancouver are all basically toast.

    So that leaves Oilers, Flames, Wild, Jets and Stars for the 2 wild card spots.

    Dallas defense and goaltending are way too wobbly but Benn is one of the best, he and Seguin could drag them into the playoffs.But Id put their chances the lowest of the 5 teams.

    Unless Duby channels his early 13-14 season, I think the Wild have the best shot of these 5 teams of making the playoffs.

    So 1 spot for Oilers, Flames or Jets.

    Im saying Oilers, but thats with my beer googles on.

    Lots of track left.But it sure is nice to be in a playoff spot in mid December.

    I don’t think we need to concede the pacific to one of the California teams. Compressed schedule is amplifying competitive swings this year. While the California teams have games in hand they also have all played at least 3 less away games than the Oil and have losing records on the road. With decent health the Oii have a good shot of winning the division imho

  23. StixMalone says:

    kinger_OIL: – Would Nurse, Davidson, 1st + anyone in AHL get you OEL?

    *Benning has bloodlines as well, Draisatl’s Dad played at Olympics.And Nurse and Jones come from professional sport families. There is an increase of athletes whose parents were athletes, mainly because of money by parents who know how to optimize sport development for their off-spring, and of course genes.

    That’s a sweet pot for OEL. I wouldn’t mind that deal at all…..

  24. TO10801 says:

    frjohnk,

    I don’t think the stars are going to be in the mix. Im not sure the Jets have the goaltending to get there either, but the rest of their team isn’t bad. The preds miss Weber and Rinne is getting older, so I wouldn’t say they are a lock to get in. At this point in time I think the best 2 teams that will be in the wildcard mix might be the Flames and Oilers.

  25. kinger_OIL says:

    StixMalone: That’s a sweet pot for OEL. I wouldn’t mind that deal at all…..

    – We will do a deal where we trade away our “potential” for a massive upgrade bona-fide prime player, then we are humming. Maybe that’s not that deal, but something big will happen: book it

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