My word we’ve watched a lot of defensemen develop these years. From the time Stu MacGregor called out Martin Marincin (in photo) in 2010′s second round, the Edmonton Oilers drafted:
- Jeremie Blain (2010)
- Brandon Davidson (2010)
- Oscar Klefbom (2011)
- David Musil (2011)
- Dillon Simpson (2011)
- Martin Gernat (2011)
- Eric Gustafsson (2012)
- Joey Laleggia (2012)
- Darnell Nurse (2013)
- Ben Betker (2013)
Unlike the forwards, who were graduating (the first rounders, anyway) every fall, the blue have been in the system learning their lessons on smaller sorties. The kids are alright, at least many of them, and because they’ve developed in different spots, their coming together this fall in pro will represent a watershed. Dillon Simpson (college) and Darnell Nurse (junior) will arrive at training camp pursuing their dreams, and finding themselves blocked by kids basically their age.
This sometimes happens. There are times in a team’s history when a bunch of players who have very similar skill sets arrive at the same time. I often mention the Houston Astros, who collected a generation of first basemen who could hit homers, get on base alot via base-on-balls, hit for a little lower batting average than was socially acceptable and tended to spend about 5 years longer in the minor leagues then they would have today. Among the men on that list were John Mayberry, Cliff Johnson, Mike Easler, Nate Colbert, Keith Lampard; Bob Watson was similar but didn’t walk as much, there were a ton of these guys who signed with Houston in the late 60′s. There are other examples in sports history, but what’s important for us to learn about this is that when this happens:
- the team in question cannot possibly keep them all.
- the team in question sometimes keeps the wrong player(s).
- it can take a long time to identify the right player.
I would guess that the Oilers ‘best 3′ young defensemen are left-handers Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse. The odds of these three men spending the heart of their NHL careers in Edmonton isn’t strong—they are going to be vying for the same jobs (well, maybe two jobs for three players). I suspect the Oilers are getting calls on lots of their youngsters, and at some point Craig MacTavish is going to have to decide to deal from strength to address weakness.
Which, in this case, might be 10-15 years of Martin Marincin for a more experienced player who can do more right away. Risky? Hell yes.
The Houston Astros sent away pretty much the whole damn bunch in what (for me) the biggest waste of useful talent in modern history when you add in Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, Mike Cuellar and a few others.
The Oilers will get value in return, but can they get enough? Unlikely. The trick isn’t trading these guys, it’s trading the right ones for maximum value. It’s a bad damn day. Holding on to Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse this summer is the right call—make Dillon Simpson push for a job and then decide.
Still, the phone keeps ringing, and the pressure remains immense.