Everyone is buzzing about the announcements out of Boca this morning that NHL GMs have discussed some possible expansion procedures should the league choose to expand.
Based on this tweet:
We have an idea of what some possible expansion draft rules might look like.
With that in mind, let’s talk about who the Oilers would protect and how scared we should be.
Let’s start where it is easy.
DEFENCEMAN x 3
1. Oscar Klefbom – He has to be #1 guy on this list. This year he only appeared in 30 games, scoring 12 points (4,8) and averaged over 21:00 a night.
He also boosts this teams offence on the powerplay where the Oilers scoring 6.5g per 60min of PP time = 20% with him on the ice and he was scoring at a 11.5% rate, which would rank him 5th in the NHL, through those 30 games. His GA60 is 2.67, ranking 4th among Oiler defenders.
He seemed close to becoming the Oilers best defender before his injury and infection and if he does make a return to the line-up this season we will hopefully see some solid play — but he won’t be at his best.
2. Darnell Nurse – We could skip the stats on this guy. He is tough as nails and willing as hell to shed his mitts or get in someones face. He does have flaws, to the eye test, such as taking poor penalties and sometimes getting a little deep in the offensive zone and late on the backcheck.
Stats-wise Nurse is so so. He has 8pts (2,6) through 59 games and has racked up 51 PIMs. He sports a -12 and plays 20:00 a night.
Defensively he has struggled. He has a defence-worse GA60 of 3.2.
He will be a nasty man in the future and there is no way the Oilers can not protect him.
3. Brandon Davidson – Let’s be honest. 6 months ago, Davidson is not on this list. But he has been the most impressive Oiler this season – outside of McDavid – and has really shown his worth. He could become a trade piece, he is on a cheap deal and can easily become a top 4 defender soon – so the Oilers would be silly to trade him and he would be a obvious pick for expansion from a team with not much else.
Stats look good for Davidson 11 pts in 51 (4,7) and an impressive +7 averaging close to 19:00 per game.
Defensively, Davidson’s GFA% is 1.85 per 60 of ice time so about 2 goals are scored with Davidson on the ice every three games. Not bad. It’s the lowest on the team outside of Hendricks 1.1.
There are probably some teams sweating about only being able to keep 3 defensemen. But the Oilers are not that team. They don’t have much depth and they don’t have many prospects still in the pipeline or that would fall in other expansion-protected categories.
This leaves the following as likely to be taken if there is an expansion, but trust me, the new team WILL 100% BE TAKING A FORWARD.
In order of least garbage to most garbage (but all still garbage):
• Andrej Sekera – Capable in bottom 4 D role, contract may be a concern.
• Eric Gryba – Big man, bottom pairing
• Griffin Reinhart – Has not shown potential, may pan out
• Jordan Oesterle – Has shown upside, not best option, low level of experience
• Adam Pardy – He is what he is, similar to Gryba
• Nikita Nikitin – Yeah… about that.
That about covers it. Of course some AHL guys would be available such as Brad Hunt, but other than that the Oilers are quite slim on the backend. If we consider the bigger picture – the expansion draft it seems would require teams to pick the best possible talent to fill a role and if you’re a new team looking at the Oilers, it’s quite obvious that the bulk of their talent plays forward.
The offensive hypothetical is coming soon….