by Lowetide

In the first year Todd McLellan coached the San Jose Sharks, he ran four defenders over 20 minutes a night. All four played 15+ minutes at even strength and all four played a lot on both special teams. All four (Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Dan Boyle, Christian Ehrhoff, Rob Blake) were recognized as being bona fide NHL defensemen.


McLellan had a nice top 4D in 2008-09, team won 53 games and there are some strong numbers here. They were all past 50 percent in possession, Boyle led with a 3.2 rel. I’m not sure we can call this an ideal group, but this top four did some very good things in a winning regular season. How close is the Oilers top 4? Who is the “Dan Boyle” in the group, leading in possession and some of the other elements?


  • The current Oilers have Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera playing substantial minutes in all three disciplines
  • Adam Larsson and Kris Russell spent lots of time at evens and on the penalty kill.
  • Matt Benning didn’t play much on special teams. More in a minute.
  • Darnell Nurse and Kris Russell were the only defenders below 50 percent in possession 5×5, and even then it was just shy.
  • All numbers via and that site is a killer.


  • Matt Benning is going to get some power play time this coming season, especially until Andrej Sekera returns. I’d suggest new hire Yohann Auvitu will also get an opportunity on the 5×4. The only alternative is to put a forward back on the blue line to  replace Sekera’s minutes. Unlikely. Benning is the obvious candidate for the 5×4.
  • Matt Benning is also a strong candidate for PK work until Sekera gets back. He’s an intelligent player, is excellent with the puck and can handle the physical aspects of the game. PK time likely going to Darnell Nurse, too. Eric Gryba’s lack of mobility hurts him here.

That San Jose defense in 2008-09 had more utility, the players had more range. I think we can count Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera as being complete coverage players, similar in usage to the four horsemen from McLellan’s first NHL team.

Is there a third defender who can step up? Maybe Matt Benning will emerge this season. His continuing emergence is a very important part of this coming season. Edmonton needs a Dan Boyle. Maybe Benning can fill significant portions of that role, beginning this season.


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I’ll feel better about Auvitu when Sekera’s back.

His defensive shortcomings are real, and not Devils-system based and there’s only one Russell to cover at the back for all our young offensively focused d-men.


Neimo going back to Finland next year, rather than the OHL.


Ray: I would bet some people believe it to be Taylor Hall’s fault.

Maybe they should trade him for a real dman. Like Russell

Or Demers. Cept NJ would have to throw in at least a second rounder.



His confidence seemed to grow by leaps and bounds last season.



Donna Mills.

That is all.


Wait 5 years.

I think Darnell Nurse is about to lose the bambi legs. He has still been growing into his gigantic frame. Things are about to slow down a little and his head will be up just a little but more, and he is going to round out. That playoff experience for him is going to be huge going into the season.

This kid won’t be denied. I still think Gator 2.0 is coming.

I think he is the 3rd most valuable D in the system.

And I love Benning too.



Everyone is going to have to play a step up the ladder while Sekera recuperates. I think Nurse and Benning will grow from it and saw off, or at least learn to.

I wonder how much we’ll see of Nurse-Russell together? I’d guess a fair bit, but there might be some flux on the back end till Coach finds a set of pairings he trusts most. The more Gryba plays, the more likely we are to see Russell on the left side.

This Auvitu addition strikes me as Jan Hejda sort of signing. Hopefully he pans out the same way. Really nice bet and a great insurance policy for cheap.

Also makes me wonder how long they’re planning to keep Seksy around after next season.

Scungilli Slushy

Nurse is only ~ 8 months younger than Benning. He has also had all kinds of experiences Benning hasn’t in hockey.

Right now Benning is ahead.

Mr. D.

BenNing has done great but has some head issues. Concussions are debilitating. His game was much softer after his concussions.

Mr. D.

Not sure how Grybas immobility is going to hinder the PK. His strength on the boards and netfront presence along with positional play more than makes up for it.

Bank Shot

If you could extend either one of Nurse or Benning for 4 years x$2 million tomorrow, which one do you chose?

I’d pick Nurse. He’s more raw but there is a lot of potential there still.

Benning may be near his ceiling already.


barmstrong: Mark Hamill

That was unexpected.



I do too. I used IMDB. Doesn’t list Mark Hamill though, just Grant Goodeve.

BTW 8 is more than enough for Drai:)



I watched Dallas every week! Ya. Ya… that’s the ticket… I watched Dallas every week… with my wife… Ya. With my wife… Morgan Fairchild.**

**I’m lying. My wife (Morgan Fairchild) and I have never watched Dallas.



– Analysis will eventually concede what hockey knows: LW is the least important position:


– Hi Conor Sheary the best LW on the Cup team: get used to guys like that lighting it up with CmD

– Hi Chris Kunitz: the best LW on the Cup team 2 years ago

– Man Ovi: he’s an awesome LW….

*note to self: save these gems for bigger forums!

* fun fact: 2 years ago, Jussi had more points than Lucic, Sharp, Landeskog. Kind of unrelated to LW comment, but not really…


barmstrong: No way.Priscilla Presley

If you’re not going to get off my lawn, at least aerate, rake and mow it please. That should keep up with the manure you’re spreading.



Fromthe reading up on him I did last night he played LW only early in his career in France, this was before his time in a D-man and I think he is coming to an organization that will give him opportunities to succeed vs his Jersey/Albany experience, where I think he stepped into some form of organizational dysfunction….

I would bet some people believe it to be Taylor Hall’s fault.

Maybe they should trade him for a real dman. Like Russell



From the reading up on him I did last night he played LW only early in his career in France, this was before his time in Finland. a D-man and I think he is coming to an organization that will give him opportunities to succeed vs his Jersey/Albany experience, where I think he stepped into some form of organizational dysfunction….


Morgan Fairchild was the best Jenna Wade.

No way. Priscilla Presley 🙂


Lowetide: Not from me. He is going to bring some chaos and that may drown his chances with the Oilers. This is a no-lose bet from my pov. Strong Sm-Liiga season, followed by a strange but impressive (sample size alert) year in NJD. I’m not saying this is the final piece of the Stanley puzzle but it’s a solid bet.

Agreed. Also not convinced should read too much into any Devils stats last year. That’s a bad team and even Schneider was below par.

Like Colorado. Let’s not read into a bad year there.



Alright – who was the best David Bradford?



Who needs to post pictures on a hockey blog, when we have the ol’ Al Gore at our disposal?


Polonium tea in 3… 2… 1…

twitter rant about Russian hockey.


Aivis Kalniņš‏ @A_Kalnins

Jagr’s agent has shut down all the ”Jagr to KHL rumors” says talks ongoing with multiple NHL teams.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?


Morgan Fairchild was the best Jenna Wade.



– Great post LT!

– this team this last year was good enough in the range to win The Cup. With Sek even more so.

– For the next decade we are good enough to win the cup every year. We just are. Chia is not a bad GM our coach is good enough ownership can spend as much as any team

– Honestly enjoy. Sure there are lots of fascinating stats to parse but had the oil won this year it would not have been out of place and just as georges cherry picks a possession stat for Pitts there are lots of stats that in hindsight show we are in the range.

– We will win cups. Write that down.


Any concern that Auvitu got benched in the Calder cup playoffs?


LT, I have seen a few references to Auvitu playing some LW. Capfriendly lists him as a LW/LD.

Any basis for this?

I am concerned his boxcars might be juiced a little by playing some forward minutes.


One thing we do know. Kris Russell certainly isn’t Dan Boyle.