I think we knew this was true, but watching the young forwards kick ass in the majors while waiting for the defense to develop points out an absolute fact about NHL hockey: it takes longer (and there are more detours) to develop a defenseman. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov and Sam Gagner are ready to roll, but the defensemen are going to take awhile. (Martin Marincin, photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved)
If we can agree that Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid are the future (and Belov may be, too) then it follows that the replacements for men like Andrew Ference, Nick Schultz, Denis Grebeshkov and Corey Potter may come from the bubbling under group.
- Ready now: Taylor Fedun, Phil Larsen
- Ready soon: Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson
- Ready next fall: Darnell Nurse
- Who knows: Brad Hunt, Martin Gernat, David Musil
Now that’s an estimate and we have no idea how long it will be before any of these guys can play top 4, but if Klefbom arrives as a top 4D in the spring of 2015 he might be the first. Fair? Maybe Nurse beats him but that’s really aggressive. No, I think if Klefbom gets called up after Christmas, plays 40 games this season as a 5-6, and then another 70 or so in 2014-15 that might get him a seat alongside (say) Jeff Petry.
We’ll go with that.
Bottom line: the Oilers current 6 (Smid-Petry, Belov-J Schultz, Ference-N Schultz/Grebeshkov) could see a replacement from OKC at any time, but it’s unlikely and of the callups could play a prominent role.
The Oilers either make do with what they have, or they make a trade. If the Oilers are calling around asking for an upgrade, the chances that other teams are asking after Jeff Petry or Ladislav Smid are very high.
This is a very bad time to be upgrading blue. The cost is insane, and that’s if someone is interested in making a move.