Johan Motin lowers the boom on Stefan Chaput in a game against the Albany River Rats on October 30, 2009, in Albany. Photo by Jennifer Bock.
The Edmonton Oilers' management team has presented an interesting gift to the defensemen in the organization. By gutting the NHL team's defense and struggling to develop their defensive draft picks, they've opened a door to the NHL roster for a physical, defense-first blueliner with penalty killing abilities. The man most likely to walk through that door? Johan Motin.
In my last report on Motin, I looked at the qualcomp rakings for the defensive prospects in the organization. Missing was Alex Plante and the newly-signed Jeff Petry, but the numbers didn't change. Motin played third pairing minutes and ended the season -5; only AHL veterans Charles Linglet and Chris Minard finished better. Alex Plante finished -11, playing mostly second pairing minutes. Motin also established himself as a physical presence with a mean side as the season wore on. He learned to use his body and lay a hit when necessary.
There's an an enormous disparity in Motin's rankings. I've got him at 12, Scott at 24 and the rest of the writers here have Motin closer to Scott's ranking than mine, just like the last time we ranked everyone, when I ranked him 10th Bruce had him 21st and everyone else slanted towards Bruce. Remember, Motin is only 21 years old and has already played four professional seasons in three leagues. He's a physical player, and he's a defense-first player. But the reason I've ranked him so highly is that he has the opportunity to rocket up the lineup, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Aside from Ladislav Smid, the Oilers don't currently have any defensemen that can fill the role of stopper. There are no ace penalty killers in the AHL or the Major Junior ranks. Outside of signing an NCAA free agent, or the return on the eventual Sheldon Souray / Andrew Cogliano trade(s), the Oilers won't have someone to fill that role.
Defensemen typically take much longer than forwards to develop and make an impact. Motin is entering his fifth professional season and his second season of North American hockey. He's now surrounded by AHL veterans and has no one standing in front of him as he moves towards the show. If he's ready to take a step towards the NHL, this is the year.
If it's comparables you seek should Motin pan out, Jonathan previously compared Motin to Aki Berg and I thought that he might top out as a player similar to Jan Hejda.