It wasn’t that long ago that Red Line Report was fretting about Dillon Simpson’s foot speed. “A pretty bad skater and he doesn’t have any poise moving the puck” they said, and damned if the kid didn’t go about the work of improving his across the board skills while at UND and turning that statement into a lie. Kids! Don’t know their limitations!
And that, my friends, is a good thing.
Dillon Simpson turns pro this fall, it’s a big step for him. Drafted in 2011, he spent his development time in a league that plays (basically) half the games of a CHL team. Simpson’s skill set works in the pro game, not because he’s an offensive defenseman, but because he has a range of skills and work ethic. Alan Hull did an interview with Simpson over a year ago, and the insight into the player and his thought process is impressive. A portion:
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.”
If you’re going to bet on one of these prospects at this year’s camp, bet on the guys with a a strong work ethic and willingness to learn. Talent is king in pro sports, but you can fool the Gods if you work hard enough, and those Simpson genes can only help along the way. Much of what Red Line talked about on draft day reflected the fact Simpson was only 17 at UND in his draft season. His teammate that year, Chay Genoway, was 23, and he has three years of AHL experience (and 1 NHL game) since.
Dillon Simpson has a lot of natural talent, don’t kid yourself. Added to the brain and the desire? He begins this season well down the pro defense chart, let’s see how far he climbs in one calendar year.
EDMONTON OILERS ROOKIE CAMP INVITE LIST
- G Keven Bouchard—Big Q goalie drafted by the Oilers on Saturday
- G Laurent Brossoit—Oilers top goaltending prospect getting set for a big year
- G Zach Nagelvoort—Impressive NCAA goalie, I like him.
- G Ty Rimmer—They like this guy. 22-years old, keeps showing up in places.
- NOT attending: Frans Tuohimaa
- D Ben Betker—Tall tree with speed, Oiler pick, stay-at-home type.
- D Dylan Bredo—Camp invite, plays for Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
- D Graeme Craig—Finished junior career, signed with Okla City for 2014-15.
- D Josh Healey—Edmontonian playing for Ohio State. Sophomore year coming up.
- D Joey LaLeggia—Oiler draft pick delivered another impressive offensive season.
- D CJ Ludwig—Craig’s boy, he’ll play in Okla City for 2014-15.
- D Darnell Nurse—The jewel of the organization.
- D Jordan Oesterle—College signing, he’s a legit prospect.
- D Dillon Simpson—One of the impressive new pro’s this fall, looking forward to his progress.
- NOT attending: William Lagesson
- C Greg Chase—The best forward at the rookie camp last fall, a big season for him on the way.
- C Leon Draisaitl—The big, sexy pick this season may be Borg. Scary size/skill combination.
- C Colin Markison—Undersized college center without offense. Unusual skill set.
- C Kyle Platzer—A big season on the way, he’ll finally be a featured player in the OHL.
- C Marco Roy—A strong, healthy season a must.
- C Tyler Vesel—Very curious about this plaer.
- C Bogdan Yakimov—6.05, 202. 6.05 forwards are as rare as Halley’s comet.
- NOT attending: Liam Coughlin.
- L Evan Campbell—Older prospect, curious about what they saw.
- L Jujhar Khaira—Listed as LW here, C through junior. Big man.
- L Alex Krushelnyski—Mike’s boy, completed college and looking for work.
- L Mitchell Moroz—Pro career gets underway this fall.
- L Aidan Muir—Still raw based on reports, had a nice finish to the season.
- L Josh Winquist—Scoring winger turns pro with Okla City.
- NOT attending: Anton Slepyshev, Daniil Zharkov.
- R Chris Baltisberger—22-year old Swiss winger with no offense.
- R Jackson Houck—Enjoyed a strong junior season.
- R Brandon Magee—Small, very skilled winger on his way to Czech leaque.
- R John McCarron—College man has one more year to go. Big forward.
- NOT attending:
OILERS EXTEND NELSON
Late to the party here, but the Oilers made a wise move in extending Todd Nelson’s contract in recent days. Since arriving in OKC, the following players have made it to the NHL:
- R Colin McDonald, now a regular with the NY Islanders and 122 games into his NHL career.
- L Teemu Hartikainen, 52 games of NHL activity and now in the Toronto Maple Leaf system.
- L Linus Omark, made it to the NHL for 79 games, suspect he’s going to be in Europe now.
- D Jeff Petry, 236 NHL games and counting. A fine young defenseman.
- C Mark Arcobello, 42 games into his NHL career and things are looking up.
- C Chris VandeVelde, 46 games into his NHL career.
- R Tyler Pitlick, 10 games into his NHL career, injuries derailing him but he’s still a prospect.
- C Anton Lander, 94 games into his NHL career and perhaps ready to stay in the NHL.
- D Martin Marincin, 44 games into his NHL career and things look very promising.
- D Taylor Fedun, just 4 NHL games but he’s got a nice chance in San Jose.
- D Oscar Klefbom, who may end up being the best of the bunch.
Nelson’s Barons produced three very nice defensemen (Petry, Marincin and Klefbom) with more on the way. The forward group is less impressive, but the first-round forwards always found their way to the NHL right after the draft. I didn’t include Magnus Paajarvi because he spent over 100 games in the NHL before arriving in Oklahoma City, but he was part of the group as well.
Good arrows from last year’s team. Who among them may one day reach the NHL? I’ll go with Martin Gernat and David Musil.
Copper and Blue writer Scott Reynolds does a brilliant comparable series each summer, the Draisaitl piece is up and you’re going to want to read it.
Toronto has made a bid on David Legwand, we don’t know about Edmonton. I wrote something here last night on the subject.
If they can’t sign Legwand, and a trade isn’t there, does Mark Arocbello win the day? I asked that question here. Arcobello isn’t the sexy pick, and I’m not saying he’ll be there 10 years, but remember we’re looking for a bridge. I get that he’ll have a hard time with Thornton and Getzlaf and Benn, but can Josh Bailey do a clearly better job? I’m not sure that answer is an absolute yes.
A busy day on the Lowdown. 10 this morning, TSN 1260, I’ll be joined by:
- Dennis King, Oilogosphere icon.
- Andrew Berkshire, Habs Eyes on the Prize.
- Rob Vollman, ESPN. He was singing the praises of Mark Fayne before free agency, I’ll ask him about that signing and others.
- Steve Dangle, Leafs Nation. Looks like the Leafs are hot after Legwand today, it’s been a confusing summer so far there.
10-1260 on text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. I’m also in with Wil Fraser on the TSN morning show beginning at 8 this morning.