OILERS NO. 8 PROSPECT (winter 2015): BRANDON DAVIDSON

by Lowetide

Brandon Davidson was taken in the bowels of the 2010 entry draft and despite a famous back story and incredible obstacles overcome since then, was not perceived as being a front line talent. As recently as this summer, his lot in life appeared to be as a fringe prospect. What happened? Well, in one of those stories that appears too good to be true (but we have witnessed), Brandon Davidson has emerged as a bona fide NHL prospect of some promise. Why do I have him No. 8 overall on the Winter List? I had no choice. He belongs here.

PREVIOUSLY NO. 8 ON THE WINTER LIST

  • December 2004: D Matt Greene (589)
  • December 2005: D Tom Gilbert (614)
  • December 2006: L Alexei Mikhnov (2)
  • December 2007: L Slava Trukhno (0)
  • December 2008: C Chris VandeVelde (139)
  • December 2009: D Taylor Chorney (79)
  • December 2010: L Linus Omark (79)
  • December 2011: L Curtis Hamilton (1)
  • December 2012: D David Musil (4)
  • December 2013: D Dillon Simpson (0)
  • December 2014: D Dillon Simpson (0)

The two defensemen who were prospects one decade ago stand out on this list, and many of those 1,200 NHL games have been played for other NHL teams. There’s a lesson there. Chris Vande Velde and Taylor Chorney have won NHL careers in the ‘hey, look at that’ category and recent entries are still writing their own stories.

davidson3

WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

  • Red Line: One of the most intriguing prospect stories in the draft is that of Brandon Davidson. After being unable to afford AAA hockey, Davidson flew under the radar playing AA, and only started getting some legitimate exposure last season. Fast forward to today, and Davidson has established himself as a strong defenseman for the Regina Pats who has not only played tremendous defense, but also chipped in on offense as well. Given his unheralded path, it’s tough to forecast how much more potential is left in the tank, but he’s certainly deserving of a Top 60 pick at this point.
  • Mike Remmerde: I usually like late bloomers who come out of nowhere, but this guy’s skating bothers me too much. Has big trouble with pivots. But he’s got really good hockey sense and is a very good puck mover. Probably goes way higher than I like, but if somehow he lasted until the 5th round, I might be interested.
  • ISS: Davidson was listed by the Pats after last seasons Mac’s Midget Tournament. He has not missed a beat and has added some offensive flair to the Pat d-core. He moves the puck very well and is a key contributor to the PP. He has great mobility and vision with the puck. He has made an easy and smooth transition from Midget AAA to the WHL. Not often is there an 18 yr old rookie who has the impact that Davidson has had this season.

NOVEMBER 2012

davidson cancer

  • Davidson: “It was an emotional thing. It was hard to get back mentally and physically. The chemotherapy drained me physically. But to come back and even have the opportunity to play last year was great, because I thought I was done for the year. It was great to come back at the end of the year and prove that I belong. It was a good end to the season for me personally, just being able to play so well.” Source

PREVIOUS RANKINGS

  • Summer 2010: Not Ranked
  • Winter 2010: No. 18
  • Summer 2011: No. 16
  • Winter 2011: No. 15
  • Summer 2012: No. 21
  • Winter 2012: No. 21
  • Summer 2013: No. 16
  • Winter 2013: No. 22
  • Summer 2014: No. 23
  • Winter 2014:  No. 21
  • Summer 2015: No. 24
  • Winter 2015: No. 8

This is Davidson’s first time inside the Top 10 prospects and he’s been eligible for 12. My list focuses on range of skills and prefers offensive players to defensive, so Davidson’s skill set is always going to be punished. His emergence this fall as a more complete player is part of his surge, but there’s also an element of his overall game that has me convinced (mostly) we’re dealing in a player who has been overlooked in the past. That said, my list over the years has seen ebbs and flows in terms of ranking, but the numbers nailed this player as a fringe type. Could he return to that level, making this ranking look silly a year or two from now? Absolutely. Still, the evidence is pretty impressive.

TURNING POINT

David Staples, Cult of Hockey (spring)In the first three games of the AHL playoffs, all OKC wins over the San Antonio Rampage, Davidson has played dominating two-way hockey and even been granted power play time in an interesting role, being asked to screen the goalie with his 6-foot, 2-inch, 215-pound frame. Source

2015-16

  • Brandon Davidson: “I’ve had to change my thought process, being in and out of the lineup as much as I have been. Patience is huge, especially for a guy who doesn’t have much patience. But at the same time it’s better for me here. It’s been tremendous. I’d much rather be here than Bakersfield. I’m learning more here every day than I ever have.” Source
  • Todd McLellan: “He’s practised well. He has size and he can skate. If he can retrieve pucks we can beat their forecheck, that’s all we’re going to ask of him.” Source
  • Lowetide, Nov. 2015: Brandon Davidson also has a nice range of skills, and the minor league experience so few of these young men get in the modern world. A cup of coffee in the ECHL and basically two full seasons in the AHL have given Davidson a chance to learn the trade. A lesson here, methinks. We should also allow for the usual ups and downs and agree that we don’t actually know what the Oilers have in Davidson. A very low draft pick (No. 162 in 2010, he’s the last NHL piece standing from the Lubo for Ryan Whitney deal) who has shown extremely well in limited play this year, one hopes we hold back from gushing too much and allow the young man to find his place on the roster. He’s 23 games into his NHL career folks. Early days indeed. Still, very encouraging and it behooves the Oilers to play him every night until he’s either established or finds his way to the pressbox due to his own play. 11GP, 2-2-4 and his 17:24 ranks him No. 8 among rookie defensemen in TOI. Source

2015-16 BOXCARS

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.74 No. 3 among defensemen
  • 5×4 points per 60: 7.19 No. 2 among defensemen
  • Qual Comp: No. 5 among D’s
  • Qual Team: No. 2 among D’s
  • Corsi Rel: 13.9 No. 1 among D’s
  • Corsi for % 5×5: 55.6
  • Zone Start: 65.6
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 16/12.5
  • Boxcars: 12GP, 2-2-4 (projected to 73GP, 12-12-14 small sample size alert)

davidson wowy

THE FUTURE

I don’t know. I honestly can’t tell you what the future holds, and if I were to guess it would be only that and that’s not fair in this instance. The thing about Davidson isn’t the offensive spike, it’s the fact that he does so many things that are useful. He skates well, he has decent size, he can pass the puck or skate it out of danger and he can survive—that’s a big one, folks—at the NHL level without the experience he’ll gain if he continues to play well enough to stay in the lineup.

In a very real way, the Davidson ranking and the Nilsson ranking are very similar. In both cases, I started with these players well down the list of candidates and through their own efforts—and the struggles of others—they have arrived at this spot.

I do not give any extra credit for being close to NHL-ready. None. Brandon Davidson is No. 8 on merit, and I’m fully aware this could look ridiculous a year or even a month from now. The damndest thing, this.

THE 2010 DRAFT

  • Taylor Hall, No. 1 overall. THE best Oilers player in many years (until McDavid), Hall pushes the river and excites the masses. Cornerstone. Graduated.
  • Tyler Pitlick, No. 31 overall. Injuries and a lack of offense have curtailed his pro progress, but he’s still fighting for a position. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
  • Martin Marincin,  No. 46 overall. No longer in the organization, approaching 100 NHL games. Graduated.
  • Curtis Hamilton, No. 48 overall. Injuries and ineffective play impacted him heavily. No longer in organization.
  • Ryan Martindale, No. 61 overall. Traded for Steve Pinizzotto, not a strong prospect at any time after his draft day. No longer in organization.
  • Jeremie Blain, No. 91 overall. Unsigned by Edmonton, he’s played in AHL and ECHL since turning pro. No longer in organization.
  • Tyler Bunz, No. 121  overall. Played in the ECHL and AHL since turning pro, played in one NHL game and no longer in organization.
  • Brandon Davidson, No. 162 overall. Overcame cancer and more, his arrows have taken an upward trajectory this fall. No. 8 prospect, Winter 2015.
  • Drew Czerwonka, No. 166 overall. Did not turn pro, no longer in hockey as an active player.
  • Kristians Pelss, No. 181 overall. We’ll remember you, Kristians Pelss. RIP.
  • Kellen Jones, No. 202 overall. Still an active player, just caught on with Bakersfield. No longer in organization beyond minor league connection.
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Sugar Reijo

HeatTreaterJoe:
hunter1909,

The way I read your comment, I first thought you were predicting an Oilers appearance to the playoffs, after a scant 18,000 years.Patience indeed.

Optimism supreme!

PhrankLee

I’m reluctant to call Davidson a graduated NHL player. We have seen that his development has been challenged by all sorts of factors beyond his control.

Some games he has been solid. Some games he has been wholly out played.

LT favors the saying that D never develop in straight lines so the possibility for regression is high. I am all for him making the squad and being a success, lord knows we need a few.

I keep seeing a lot of talk about how BD is what GR should be. And I cannot disagree more strongly.

GR has to be afforded an opportunity to grow into his man legs and brains. He is 2 years younger than BD.

Also GR is helping this team a whole hell of a lot more than any 16 or 33 picks could or even would for another 2 years. So gnashing teeth about those picks is histrionic, imo.

GR and DN and OK will run this team. BD may make it, fingers crossed. Good depth guy but to put him ahead of GR is wrongheaded, in my eyes.

Pouzar

Woodguy: You’re a sweetheart Bruce

You were on yesterday?

PhrankLee

I noticed Rob Vollman did an AMA over at Reddit yesterday.

https://www.reddit.com/r/hockey/comments/3u3j5c/i_am_rob_vollman_of_hockey_abstract_ama/

Woodguy

Bruce McCurdy: Darcy’s segment can be found here, and, as always, is worth the listen. Starts around 21:00.

You’re a sweetheart Bruce

Zelepukin

Woodguy:
The game that made me sit up and notice him was the CHI game in EDM last Wednesday.

He was paired with Griff against the defending Cup champs who come at you in waves.

He took charge of that pairing imo.He was Griff’s most common pass recipient and he often skated the puck out of danger from near the goal line.

I mentioned it on LT’s show the next day too (I’d link to it, but only hour 2 from that day is on the TSN1260 website)

His ability to skate with the puck and make the correct decisions with it at speed gives him a leg up on his competition. I was actually thinking “he probably looks like the player that Chiarelli thought he was trading for in Reinhart”

He and Reinhart finished that game with an impressive 65.22CF%, including going 5-0 against Toews in 3:31 and 6-1 vs Hossa in 3:36.

You have to think that no one in the org knew he was capable of this.

They wouldn’t have traded for Griff if they knew.

I’m rooting like hell for him and hope he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle when Schultz gets back.

My current Oiler depth chart looks like:

Sekera
Klef
Nurse
Fayne
Davidson
Schultz
Reinhart
Gryba

This. That Chicago game really started to show what I believe is the coaching staff’s approach to defense. We have solid young D with all the right skill sets, but as Davidson says in the one interview, you need to be taught how to play D in the NHL. The margin of error nowadays is ridiculous. You can’t just Ference the puck up the boards every time you’ve knocked it loose in your corner. Top D almost make no self-imposed errors anymore. They might get beaten to a loose puck or lose a 1-on-1 battle but if they create a turn-over or gain possession, instinct is to make the next best possible decision for their current situation. Every time.

This the first year in a decade that you can actually see players being taught some shit.

Revolved

When ranking your prospects, what is it you’re scoring LT?

I know you prefer offense and a range of skills, but are you looking at their ability now or projecting a ceiling?

I ask because this list has more than a few NHL players on it, but Slepyshev and Brossoit beat out a few of them.

hunter1909

Yakupov’s only one of the Lowetide blog general trading away the good Oilers:

Jordan Eberle’s as good as traded already.

RNH, asap, since he’s only signed for several more years and the team really needs his experience.

McDavid, Draisaitl, and Hall are not going anywhere.

I haven’t got a fucking clue.

hunter1909

Re Yakupov:

Nobody’s suggesting anything, but Yakupov’s is on a 2 year contract as reduced cost, being fed third liner roles sans McDavid, and when the entire team fails to score He gets the vote to be drawing straws for the firing squad.

As a third liner Yakupov plays like a sensible young player should, doesn’t get hurt, Close to a plus player in +/- after the previous season’s debacles etc. Throws the odd hit but understands he should wait until he’s 25 years old so he plays a long time.

As a first overall pick he’s not the greatest, but neither was Guy Lafleur much better during his first 3-4 seasons in the NHL.

HT Joe

hunter1909,

The way I read your comment, I first thought you were predicting an Oilers appearance to the playoffs, after a scant 18,000 years. Patience indeed.

hunter1909

“Steve Smith”: I’m not around here as often as I used to be and sometime miss the new memes – who’s OOF?

Oilers made the playoffs, just barely, in 20016.

That’s 2006 or 2016

RexLibris

Lowetide: DSF I think.

Hmm, OOF actually has a nice tone to it.

In terms of sound, it can be applied in so many ways.

Perhaps we’ve stumbled upon something?

RexLibris

Bruce McCurdy: My own memory is selective to those rare cases where I got one right.

That’s the best way to live.

A skill like that though? Surprised you didn’t pursue a career in politics.

Bruce McCurdy

Armchair GM: I ALWAYS read your stuff.Cult of Hockey is a 365 day a year read.However, unlike LT and others, I haven’t committed it all to memory.My Bad.Need to spend more time in the archives.

Thanks. I was teasing (mostly). My own memory is selective to those rare cases where I got one right.

"Steve Smith"

RexLibris:
Our Old Friend certainly took offense to my comment above re: MacLean.

I’m not around here as often as I used to be and sometime miss the new memes – who’s OOF?

RexLibris

Pouzar: Ask him if he can spell PPG.
Then ask him if he can sort by it.

I try to steer clear as best I can.

Pouzar

RexLibris:
Our Old Friend certainly took offense to my comment above re: MacLean.

Apparently my opinion isn’t valid because I’m not being paid by a major network to express it.

Good to know that’s how hockey works. Guess I can just shut ‘er down till the Rogers boys come calling.

I wonder who pays him for his eloquence and insight?

Ask him if he can spell PPG.
Then ask him if he can sort by it.

RexLibris

Our Old Friend certainly took offense to my comment above re: MacLean.

Apparently my opinion isn’t valid because I’m not being paid by a major network to express it.

Good to know that’s how hockey works. Guess I can just shut ‘er down till the Rogers boys come calling.

I wonder who pays him for his eloquence and insight?

RexLibris

Pouzar:
69 – 32 CF for Ducks

Hartley did everything right.

Outshot by a 2-1 ratio.

Down by a goal in the 3rd.

Pulled the goalie.

Still lost. He can’t figure out why his Jack Adams award-winning coaching strategies aren’t working.

Halfwise

Ducks beat Falmes for the 21st straight time at the Honda Center. Holy cow.

Pouzar

69 – 32 CF for Ducks

Armchair GM

Bruce McCurdy: You should read the Cult of Hockey!

Also from 2011:

There’s a bunch more in the post. My scouting reports don’t always hold up that well over time, but I’m pretty happy with this one.

I ALWAYS read your stuff. Cult of Hockey is a 365 day a year read. However, unlike LT and others, I haven’t committed it all to memory. My Bad. Need to spend more time in the archives.

RexLibris

Doug MacLean likes Bennett more than Draisaitl.

Doug McLean is not currently employed in any personnel role related to professional hockey.

These two things are not a coincidence.

Pouzar

Brutal 5 on 3.

Slepy handling puck down low on his Right Wing…no option to shoot and kept passing back to point.

fifthcartel

Davidson looks really solid. I definitely think he’d be claimed if he was waived now.

If Reinhart is sent to Bakersfield to make room for Schultz I hope he stays in the line-up instead of Gryba. I think he’s earned it.

Pouzar

Condors down 2-1 with 11 min left

2 man Adv upcoming

Pouzar

Ryan Holt ‏@CondorsHolty
A nice first period here in #Condorstown. Really like the period from @jujhar94. Relentless on the fore check playing a heavy game.

Pouzar

2nd best story next to Drai.

Loved what I saw live in preseason but of course preseason has it’s pitfalls.
All the tools were on display though. These are the kinds of prospects (5th rd)
you need to hit on from time to time. <–that sounds bad.

jp

Caramel Obvious:
I thought he had almost no chance before the season but it sure feels like I was wrong.

I don’t think many of us had much of an idea. I don’t recall anyone suggesting anything more than a 6-7 as his upside.

Luckily Chia, TMc (or more likely McT) realized his value. The easy play (and the one I expected) coming out of camp was try to pass him through waivers. But instead they carried 9!!!! Dmen so they could hold onto him. Looks like the right move, and kudos to whoever went to bat for the guy!

flyfish1168

RexLibris: WoI has the CF 33/14 in Anaheim’s favour.

Not watching the game but either the Flames’ goaltending has finally woken up or the Ducks are firing everything from the outside.

That’s a nasty shot differential.

I’m starting to unconsciously associate Bob Hartley with the phrase “more cowbell”.

After phlegms went up 2-0 and a ducks goalie change, the Ducks woke up. Prior to that it was maybe slightly a little for the phlegms.

RexLibris

flyfish1168:
Ducks have woken up. 2-2Lets kick some F*&^%^ ugly phlegmbutt.

WoI has the CF 33/14 in Anaheim’s favour.

Not watching the game but either the Flames’ goaltending has finally woken up or the Ducks are firing everything from the outside.

That’s a nasty shot differential.

I’m starting to unconsciously associate Bob Hartley with the phrase “more cowbell”.

RexLibris

Bruce McCurdy: Not quite destitute, but in tough. This snippet from an interview I did with Davidson in 2011 gives some insights:

I was impressed with this kid back then, & I remain impressed today. He’s done nothing but improve from that day to this. Humble, well-adjusted, focused, smart — he’s got a lot going on. Am rooting for him pretty hard, especially since the cancer scare but even before.

Same story with Nugent-Hopkins, as I recall.

His parents separated and he opted (his idea) to sit out a year because they couldn’t afford it during the divorce.

Iirc.

Bruce McCurdy

Woodguy: I mentioned it on LT’s show the next day too (I’d link to it, but only hour 2 from that day is on the TSN1260 website)

Darcy’s segment can be found here, and, as always, is worth the listen. Starts around 21:00.

Cassandra

I thought he had almost no chance before the season but it sure feels like I was wrong.

He has passed Reinhart on the depth chart like he was standing still.

Bruce McCurdy

Armchair GM:
That slap shot of his is quite a surprise.I didn’t see any discussion of it at any point since he was drafted.

You should read the Cult of Hockey! 🙂

Also from 2011:

Davidson was a key man on the powerplay, playing the middle of the umbrella, moving the puck comfortably but a threat to unload a big shot. One of them tested Laurent Brossoit in Edmonton’s net creating a dangerous rebound, while another beat Brossoit cleanly and dinged off the post on its way into the net.

There’s a bunch more in the post. My scouting reports don’t always hold up that well over time, but I’m pretty happy with this one.

Woodguy

The game that made me sit up and notice him was the CHI game in EDM last Wednesday.

He was paired with Griff against the defending Cup champs who come at you in waves.

He took charge of that pairing imo. He was Griff’s most common pass recipient and he often skated the puck out of danger from near the goal line.

I mentioned it on LT’s show the next day too (I’d link to it, but only hour 2 from that day is on the TSN1260 website)

His ability to skate with the puck and make the correct decisions with it at speed gives him a leg up on his competition. I was actually thinking “he probably looks like the player that Chiarelli thought he was trading for in Reinhart”

He and Reinhart finished that game with an impressive 65.22CF%, including going 5-0 against Toews in 3:31 and 6-1 vs Hossa in 3:36.

You have to think that no one in the org knew he was capable of this.

They wouldn’t have traded for Griff if they knew.

I’m rooting like hell for him and hope he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle when Schultz gets back.

My current Oiler depth chart looks like:

Sekera
Klef
Nurse
Fayne
Davidson
Schultz
Reinhart
Gryba

flyfish1168

Ducks have woken up. 2-2 Lets kick some F*&^%^ ugly phlegm butt.

travisdk

pocession charge,

Ironically I am, but realize forwards can’t keep you 100% in games. We have 3 top centres, a good right winger, pouliot, and some wingers in the AHL. The D needs some experience that isn’t second pairing defensemen.

Hall is good and the most valuable outside of Mcdavid.

godot10

The other Todd has righted the ship in Grand Rapids. Always making lemonade out of lemons.

Bruce McCurdy

Bad Seed:
How could you not pull for this kid?Coming from a destitute family, beating cancer, longshot draft pick.Talk about character.

Not quite destitute, but in tough. This snippet from an interview I did with Davidson in 2011 gives some insights:

CoH: I heard tell that you missed some elite hockey growing up due possibly to financial circumstances? or what was the reason for that?

BD: Not financial circumstances exactly. I’m not an only child, I’ve got two other brothers, they’re playing hockey too, my parents each had a job, they were divorced …

CoH: It’s an expensive game!

BD: Yeah, it just wasn’t in the cards for me at the time. Maybe that has a little bit to say about my late blooming, it made me stronger, made me a better person.

I was impressed with this kid back then, & I remain impressed today. He’s done nothing but improve from that day to this. Humble, well-adjusted, focused, smart — he’s got a lot going on. Am rooting for him pretty hard, especially since the cancer scare but even before.

tcho

I was about to post that this might be Boudreau’s last game as head coach of the Ducks… and Corey Perry scores.

GCW_69

Davidson is Jeff Petry-lite. Here’s to hoping that he is a rock on the third pair for the next ten years.

RexLibris

Gmoney has mentioned xGoals before which is why this caught my eye:

Sapp Macintosh ‏@MacSapintosh 4h4 hours ago

at this point Flames almost certainly wheel spinning…and according to @DTMAboutHeart’s xG model have best chance at 1OV draft pick

I think this is far, far too early to call, but the Flames are trending towards missing the playoffs this year and the lottery almost favours a draft-order upset of the bottom three teams by those finishing higher.

Jesse

SPAM ALERT

Brand New episode of the Pod Marchant Toddcast. Listen if you’d like!
https://soundcloud.com/podmarchant/pod-marchant-toddcast-it-takes-a-lot-of-ball

jp

Davidson sure looks like he’s for real. What a find if he can keep it up!

With his OKC boxcars and all the talk about his defensive game I’d forgotten the pre draft talk about his offense. The kid can skate, shoot and pass the puck.

I’m rooting for him for a bunch of reasons.

flyfish1168

dustrock: It would take Hall to get Faulk, sorry.

I view Hall top 5 or 3 forwards in the league. I view Faulk just making the top 10 d-men maybe. I would never make this trade one for one. I do not have my Oilers glasses on. JMHO

dustrock

Lowetide: Really like Faulk, but Carolina is a better team than their record (much like Edmonton) and Faulk is an important part of the team.

It would take Hall to get Faulk, sorry.

Mr. D.

Interesting if Gryba gets traded. I think Cherelli and Mcl like him but someone has to go. Even though the game has focused on possession I see the work in his own end something that was missing last year. The fact that his is a UFA will likely guide him out. There are just too many D. Not a great fan of hockey analytics but he is 3rd on the team for on ice goals for/60 min and second last on ice goals against /60 min.