Far from the events of the big league club, and a long flight from Oklahoma’s weather, there are four defensemen building their resume’s in hopes of spending their 20s and 30s as NHL players. For Edmonton Oiler fans, the WHL houses the future on the blue.
This blog followed three college defensemen once upon a time, and as we might have expected the results were mixed. Jeff Petry appears to be on the verge of becoming an NHL regular, Taylor Chorney is sitting in limbo as a HS in St. Louis, and Cody Wild is a part time AHL defenseman. That cluster should serve as a warning: the chances of all four dub D emerging as NHL talents is poor. Despite the early signs.
- D Brandon Davidson: I ranked him #16 on the summer top 20, and Davidson is the longest shot in the group from my point of view. Late bloomer has calm feet and can move the puck expertly at junior level. His back story makes him in instant favorite and his early results in the WHL this season (19, 5-13-18 +11) have him near the top of league scoring by defensmen. He turned 20 in August, so the numbers have to be taken in that context.
- D Martin Gernat: I ranked him #19 on the summer top 20, mostly owing to glowing reviews by damn near everybody who’d seen him. You never know with these kids and fact is we still don’t know because the Oil Kings are deep enough to afford a riverboat gambler. Offense from defensemen is often the first thing that goes once they reach the pro’s (rookie defensemen on the PP in the NHL are as rare as Potvin’s and Orr’s) so we need to get an accurate knowledge about his defensive abilities before crowning him the next great hope. His numbers: 18, 6-12-18 +11 are ridiculous, but we should be cautious.
- D Martin Marincin: May be the most complete player in the group, I had him at #7 during the summer. He’s just getting back into action after a 4-game suspension so his numbers (13, 1-7-8 +3) are off the pace. His WHL team is very poor, so his stats need to be taken in context. I think he’s tracking well despite the time off.
- D David Musil: I’m a big fan of this kid, he has a nice range of skills and unlike some of the others on this list playing defense is his strength. I ranked him #8 out of the box on the summer list, and he’s tracking (19, 1-9-10 +8) well.
I’m not certain how many of these kids will be at the WJ’s (Musil’s team hasn’t announced their invite list, as an example) but based on how well they’re playing currently I think this will be a fun group to follow. Let’s hope they have more success than the college trio.