#8 PROSPECT: DILLON SIMPSON

I’m starting to get the feeling Dillon Simpson is going to be a very good NHL player. He’s a senoir NCAA player at 20, meaning his big brain had him playing against men 10 years his senior when he was mid-teens. That fact perhaps muddied our view of this player, but now, at 20, the captain, the two-way horse defender, cannot be ignored by Oiler fans. This is a quality NHL prospect.

PREVIOUSLY NUMBER EIGHT ON THE WINTER LIST

  • December 2004: D Matt Greene (481)
  • December 2005: D Tom Gilbert (471)
  • December 2006: L Alexei Mikhnov (2)
  • December 2007: L Slava Trukhno (0)
  • December 2008: C Chris VandeVelde (28)
  • December 2009: D Taylor Chorney (61)
  • December 2010: L Linus Omark (66)
  • December 2011: L Curtis Hamilton (0)
  • December 2012: D David Musil (0)

Two defensemen who slotted in at #8 a decade ago and nothing since. Omark, Hamilton and Musil still have time but we’re not looking at any impact players at this spot. For me, Simpson is a better prospect than most of the guys on this list—his draft number was likely hurt by the same things that kept him from appearing in the top 10—he was younger, had skating and physical issues compared to the opposition, and those things made it difficult to project him into the future.

I know a scout (eastern conference) who discussed the trio of Musil-Simpson-Gernat with me a year or so ago. He said Musil’s foot speed is going to impact him as a pro, Gernat’s size and speed will get him to the NHL (if he remains healthy) but his offense wasn’t so good we should expect him to be a 30-point player. He talked at length about Simpson and his development since draft day, about how impressive Simpson’s progress had been, about how well he played the game and made decisions. The kicker? I asked him about Gernat and Musil, the scout brought Simpson into the conversation. Interesting.

simpson9WHAT 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.

POINTS BY DISCIPLINE, DILLON SIMPSON

PLAYER EV PP PK TOTAL
SIMPSON 2010-11 30, 1-6-7 30, 1-2-3 30, 0-0-0 30, 2-8-10
SIMPSON 2011-12 42, 1-6-7 42, 1-10-11 42, 0-0-0 42, 2-16-18
SIMPSON 2012-13 42, 2-8-10 42, 3-11-14 42, 0-0-0 42, 5-19-24
SIMPSON 2013-14 11, 0-2-2 11, 1-3-4 11, 0-0-0 11, 1-5-6

This is a fascinating progression. In his first year, Simpson was a kid and the numbers reflect it—exactly 30% of  his offense came from the powerplay. Last season, the man advantage was responsible for 58% of his point total, and this season it’s 66% so far—that’s not unusual for a defenseman getting plenty of power play time, but once again it shows how much he’s developed during his time in North Dakota.

If Simpson comes to the NHL, and has the skill level to play 5×4 minutes with Justin Schultz? Interesting scenario and suggests a wider range of skills than we’d been discussing in the past.

PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING

  • Summer 2011: 24
  • Winter 2011: 17
  • Summer 2012: 14
  • Winter 2012: 10
  • Summer 2013: 10
  • Winter 2013: 8

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON

simpson8If you’re interested in finding out more about Dillon Simpson, Alan Hull’s interview is the first stop. Hull does an exceptional job of asking great questions and receiving excellent answers from a thoughtful young man.

Simpson: Well, for anyone who has followed me since before I was drafted, the draft notes likely all said that footspeed was something I need to improve, and so it’s something that I’ve really been working on over the last couple of years with my coaches and with the strength and conditioning coach. We’ve really tried to put a lot of emphasis on that part of my game and I think that so far this year it has been showing. I feel like I’m able to get myself up into the play a lot more. I feel much more confident in my footspeed in terms of being able to keep up with plays and close gaps. It’s certainly something I feel is improving and I’m going to continue working on it, so it’s definitely getting better.

Dillon Simpson has become a more complete player since his draft day, and it’s clear that the progress made has earned him a much better NHL shot than his draft day selection suggested in 2011. One key element: he can play defense, this isn’t an offense first player who can wheel and learn. This is a bona fide defenseman.

ETA SIMPSON

They have to sign him first and I imagine his agent is going to bring up progress and get some bonus dollars. The relationship between the Simpsons and the Oilers has been a close one over the years, so with a couple of concessions (like burning a year of entry level in 2013-14) one imagines they’ll get him signed to a contract.

Once that transaction is completed, it will be very interesting to see how long it takes Simpson to progress to the NHL. Last December, I ranked Simpson #10 on the winter list, and he trailed Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat and David Musil. This season, he’s #8 and trails Nurse, Klefbom, Marincin and Belov, but the truth is he’s joined the conversation in a very real way. The gap between Simpson and the best prospects in the system started closing 2011 fall and the footsteps are getting louder every season.

Dillon Simpson is a quality NHL prospect with something resembling a complete skill set. Full stop.

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51 Responses to "#8 PROSPECT: DILLON SIMPSON"

  1. Woodguy says:

    LT,

    What do you set the odds at that the Oilers sign him?

    I hope they do, but I could understand him looking at a different organization with less Dmen depth past the NHL level.

    Also,

    There is an interview with Simpson on the OIlers site right now.

    I can’t link directly to the interview, but if you scroll down is just before the practice stuff from today.

    http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/

  2. Lowetide says:

    I’d say 75% he signs. His relationship with the organization is good, and frankly based on what we’re reading this guy is going to progress past some men drafted ahead of him. I do think it probably doesn’t bode well for some others in the system, though.

  3. Lois Lowe says:

    I said it in another thread, but I think that Simpson is a likely target for other teams trading with the Oil. If MacT has to give up one someone in the organization, he’s the most attractive prospect not named Nurse or Kelfbom.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Lois Lowe:
    I said it in another thread, but I think that Simpson is a likely target for other teams trading with the Oil. If MacT has to give up one someone in the organization, he’s the most attractive prospect not named Nurse or Kelfbom.

    I think he might have a nice range of skills, and if he does, then bringing him in is probably the better plan. Oilers have their keepers (Petry, J Schultz, Nurse, Klefbom is my guess) but there’s room for Simpson and Marincin probably has higher actual value currently.

  5. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Woodguy: I can’t link directly to the interview, but if you scroll down is just before the practice stuff from today.
    http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/

    just posted this on the last thread. LT is moving too quick!!

    here’s the direct link:

    http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=492003&catid=4

  6. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Not sure why, but the Simpsons remind me of slick, commercial 80s rock.

    There is something about their general affability mixed with their bland manner of flashiness and topped off with their steely look of business that rings true with the following:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYkbTyHXwbs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqDjMZKf-wg

    and inches near this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzN3qO-qc8U

    or it’s near perfect tribute:

    http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/e3662085fb/american-psycho-with-huey-lewis-and-weird-al

  7. Lynas1 says:

    My guess is Musil is the first odd man out.

  8. G Money says:

    On the Oilers blog they have the first line as
    Hall-Nugent-Hopkins

    No wonder they’ve been struggling at ES! They’re short a player!

  9. VanOil says:

    I hope Simpson cashes a big check from the Oilers this spring. Then calls up Musil and invites him to do two a day training sessions with his Step-mom and friends all summer in South Edmonton.

    I hope I can find a stream to catch a bit of the UND-Boston game today.

  10. Lowetide says:

    VanOil:
    I hope Simpson cashes a big check from the Oilers this spring. Then calls up Musil and invites him to do two a day training sessions with his Step-mom and friends all summer in South Edmonton.

    I hope I can find a stream to catch a bit of the UND-Boston game today.

    If you do, please pass along.

  11. linkfromhyrule says:

    *sigh* I hate weekends without oilers games.. It’s really tough to justify procrastination without it!

  12. fifthcartel says:

    Hotstove -

    Ottawa can’t really afford Hemsky if they’re interested. Wonder if that would change if EDM would hold salary.

  13. Lowetide says:

    fifthcartel:
    Hotstove -

    Ottawa can’t really afford Hemsky if they’re interested. Wonder if that would change if EDM would hold salary.

    A couple of things. They mentioned zibanajed (sp?) as return and I’d pay extra for that and throw in a defenseman prospect to boot.

    The big item though is Dion possibly hitting free agency. Oilers would have to be all over that.

  14. fifthcartel says:

    Lowetide,

    Man, for all the shit Phaneuf gets, he would help the Oilers blueline soo much.

  15. Lois Lowe says:

    I think that Dion is actually a pretty good high-end comp for Nurse.

  16. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Citing +/- on Ovi just seems desperate at this point. The guy’s awesome, CBC should just run with that.

  17. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lowetide: A couple of things. They mentioned zibanajed (sp?) as return and I’d pay extra for that and throw in a defenseman prospect to boot.

    The big item though is Dion possibly hitting free agency. Oilers would have to be all over that.

    Missed it… was it Elliotte? cause… otherwise, I’m not sure how much to trust those cats on insider intel.

  18. OilLeak says:

    Lois Lowe,

    Nurse is definitely more mobile, however.

  19. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Well, this is fantastic to start the night:

    http://cavespring.ca/wines/wine-details?wine=Riesling+Estate&vintage=2011&type=Estate+Bottled

    For you Ontarians, I highly recommend a trip to the Wine Shop in the quaint Jordan, Ont. Otherwise, if you can grab a bottle (LCBO has them), go for it. Lovely whites.

  20. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: Missed it… was it Elliotte? cause… otherwise, I’m not sure how much to trust those cats on insider intel.

    Elliotte mentioned Hemsky to OTtawa rumors and said he didn’t think they’d happen. Healy said Phaneuf would have to accept fewer dollars to stay in paradise

  21. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Only the first period. Draisaitl with 3 assists so far.

    Lowetide: Elliotte mentioned Hemsky to OTtawa rumors and said he didn’t think they’d happen. Healy said Phaneuf would have to accept fewer dollars to stay in paradise

    Did they mention Smith? Odd that Z would be on the table… that doesn’t sound right. I agree, though, if they are trading him add to the bucket and try to get it done.

  22. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Only the first period. Draisaitl with 3 assists so far.

    Did they mention Smith? Odd that Z would be on the table… that doesn’t sound right. I agree, though, if they are trading him add to the bucket and try to get it done.

    I’ve spoken many times with Travis Yost on that subject and there’s some kind of disconnect with Zibanajed or however you spell his name. That’s how I know he’ll be an Oiler—I can’t spell his name!

  23. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lowetide: I’ve spoken many times with Travis Yost on that subject and there’s some kind of disconnect with Zibanajed or however you spell his name. That’s how I know he’ll be an Oiler—I can’t spell his name!

    No way a normal human can spell that name without looking it up. It would be really weird if they traded both Silfverbergjad and Zibanijadberg in the span of a year though…

    that constitutes pretty aggressive re-design of depth charts and team future in my books.

  24. Gerta Rauss says:

    Lowetide:
    I’d say 75% he signs. His relationship with the organization is good, and frankly based on what we’re reading this guy is going to progress past some men drafted ahead of him. I do think it probably doesn’t bode well for some others in the system, though.

    I hope that’s the case.

    That further illustrates the need for a cull of the D prospects-if we can move 1 of the guys in the pecking order to fill a need it’ll give a clearer path for Simpson and (hopefully) entice him to sign.

    It would be real shame if we can’t sign this kid.

  25. fifthcartel says:

    I think Healy was pretty much mocking corsi mid play during Leafs game.

    and yes please to Zibanejad. What an awesome name.

  26. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    fifthcartel: I think Healy was pretty much mocking corsi mid play during Leafs g

    Yep. He asked what the Corsi on Reimer needing his net fixed was. The correct answer by the way is -6.78 corgis.

  27. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Marco Roy with an assist tonight, +2.

    ——-
    Suck it Jim Hughson!

    OVI!

  28. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Marco Roy with an assist tonight, +2.

    ——-
    Suck it Jim Hughson!

    OVI!

    HA! Just tweeted that.

  29. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    RICK FUCKING BALL!!!!

    have we turned the late night corner? we can only hope.

  30. Lois Lowe says:

    I was listening to local sports talk radio (in Van) and John Shorthouse was complaining about the fact that the Canucks had to play back to back. He figured the schedule makers must be screwing Vancouver and making things easy for Edmonton and Calgary.

  31. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    So… the flower hocking some kind of foot massager, eh?

    That party scene didn’t look too compelling.

  32. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lois Lowe:
    I was listening to local sports talk radio (in Van) and John Shorthouse was complaining about the fact that the Canucks had to play back to back. He figured the schedule makers must be screwing Vancouver and making things easy for Edmonton and Calgary.

    Don’t trust a damn thing that guy says.

  33. Lowetide says:

    I think James Reimer might end up being the next Oilers goalie.

  34. Schitzo says:

    Lowetide:

    The big item though is Dion possibly hitting free agency. Oilers would have to be all over that.

    I’m sure that coming back home is appealing, but I wonder if he won’t take a discount to end up somewhere in California.

  35. Pouzar says:

    Lowetide:
    I think James Reimer might end up being the next Oilers goalie.

    Come on Lowetide…the Nuge might be reading this.

  36. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lowetide:
    I think James Reimer might end up being the next Oilers goalie.

    What’s that going to cost? in both trade and contract?

    Could he mentor Bunz with concussion problems?

  37. Logan91 says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: What’s that going to cost? in both trade and contract?

    Could he mentor Bunz with concussion problems?

    One would think that the trade would start with the Oilers first round pick, and then some.

  38. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Elliotte pitching Anderson for the Oilers in exchange for DD ++ (not reporting, his own suggestion)

  39. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Elliotte pitching Anderson for the Oilers in exchange for DD ++ (not reporting, his own suggestion)

    I would rather go with Dubnyk, but Zibanejed insterests me.

  40. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Love watching these nucks lose heart at home. love it.

  41. Hockeyman 99 says:

    Logan91,

    Schneider was a first with 3 years on contract at reasonable money.

  42. Hockeyman 99 says:

    Lowetide,

    Dubey can play so long as he has a strong safety net / competition. He is average if pushed but prone to bad goals at bad times. The only way I move forward with him is at a sub 3 mil cap so I can afford a strong co #1.

  43. Logan91 says:

    Hockeyman 99:
    Logan91,

    Schneider wasa firstwith 3 years on contract at reasonable money.

    Yeah but they wanted a TON more from the Oilers for Schneider.

  44. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lowetide: I would rather go with Dubnyk, but Zibanejed insterests me.

    Agreed. I don’t think you chase Anderson. You try for Lehner out of OTT.

    The biggest concern going forward isn’t, in my mind, so much the player, but the trade and the contract.

    The lack of confidence in DD and the attempt on Schneids suggests they are willing to pay a lot (for an upgrade — I don’t have a problem with this part per se) and may not have a good sense of what an average goaltender is (chasing marginal — if at all — upgrades on DD for way more money is a terrible idea).

    Logan91: Yeah but they wanted a TON more from the Oilers for Schneider.

    Presumably, the in-division premium wouldn’t apply to OTT and TOR, but MacT may be desperate for a change in Goal… I’ll be watching him like a hawk on this score. He needs someone saying: “are you sure you want to do that?”

  45. linkfromhyrule says:

    I feel like we need to see how bryz plays first. I mean, it’s not impossible for him to rebound to pre-philly levels (even if it is unlikely). With that said it isn’t entirely unreasonable to think at least one of dubnyk or bryz will play well. MacT needs to restrain his impatience here and wait for the right opportunity to upgrade if he so chooses. Stay the course until he knows what he has in these two. IMO he should just get ‘em signed cheap and concentrate on getting that #1D.

  46. Logan91 says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:

    Presumably, the in-division premium wouldn’t apply to OTT and TOR, but MacT may be desperate for a change in Goal… I’ll be watching him like a hawk on this score. He needs someone saying: “are you sure you want to do that?”

    When he thinks he can make a trade he needs someone to say this:

    http://youtu.be/a1lyvYsWAG8

  47. David says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: What’s that going to cost? in both trade and contract?

    Could he mentor Bunz with concussion problems?

    Remember Dreger said it would cost Yak plus… I’ve always liked Reimer. But is he that much of an upgrade of Dubnyk?

  48. David says:

    I really like Simpson. Get him signed! I think he would leap frog Musil and Gernat at least.

  49. fifthcartel says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Elliotte pitching Anderson for the Oilers in exchange for DD ++ (not reporting, his own suggestion)

    I like this. I like this a lot.

  50. Lois Lowe says:

    I don’t see why the Leafs deal Reimer over Bernier at this point.

  51. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    David: Remember Dreger said it would cost Yak plus… I’ve always liked Reimer. But is he that much of an upgrade of Dubnyk?

    He was more spitballing. I highly doubt that is the asking price.

    I do imagine it is high though. They paid a lot for Bernier (Scrivens, Frattin, a 2nd and 500K in cap space). They’ll want that back probably.

    Lois Lowe:
    I don’t see why the Leafs deal Reimer over Bernier at this point.

    2 reasons I can think of:

    1) teams seem to often over-value new hires and undervalue old hats (or vice versa). no rhyme or reason

    2) Bernier has a fight. Toronto loves fighting.

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