There have been a lot of words about the sorry state of the Oilers defence over the last couple of seasons. That's bound to happen though when a team not only employs, but plays in a top four role, the likes of Cam Barker and the defenceman formerly known as Ryan Whitney. As ugly as things have been for the Oilers though, things behind the scenes have been going quite well when it comes to the development of the team's next wave of defenceman. Our top ten started yesterday with a defenceman - Martin Gernat - and continues today with another, Martin Marincin.
Since debuting at 19 in our rankings following his selection in the 2010 draft, Marincin has been a fixture in and around the top ten with rankings ranging from 8 to 11. This time around seven of nine voters had Marincin at 9, and the other two voters had him just one spot higher. It's rare that we see this kind of agreement in the rankings anywhere but the top spot. Out of curiosity I looked, and there were no unanimous selections this year, although two players were ranked in the same spot by eight of our voters, so Marincin wasn't the player we agreed upon the most. If you were wondering, those two players actually book our rankings at 1 and 47.
Before turning pro Marincin had a couple of up and down seasons in the WHL (at least in terms of points) playing for the Prince George Courgars, and then finishing his junior career with Regina after being acquired at the trade deadline. This season in Oklahoma City, Marincin struggled at times, likely in part because he still needs to fill out - he's listed at a weight under 200lbs despite being 6'5" - but still put together some excellent numbers. Marincin finished tops among Barons defenders in plus/minus and shots; and second in points and shots/game behind Justin Schultz.
Offence has never been a problem for Marincin though. No, his struggles have been in his own end, something Corey Pronman touched on recently:
Marincin struggled with play in his own end, as well as decision making, although he improved as the season went along. He looked inconsistent with decisions early in his WHL days, and some of the same problems surfaced as Marincin tried to adjust to the pace of the pro game.
Experience and, as I mentioned before, filling out that 6'5" frame probably will go a long way to correcting some of his defensive zone problems. I remember Marincin in his first year in Prince George often seeming surprised by the speed of play and ending up out of position as a result, but once he adjusted to the league those struggles were a thing of the past. Judging by the reviews of his play during the Barons runs to the Calder Cup Conference Finals it sounds as if Marincin might have already started to turn that same corner in his newest league.
I don't think there any real question about if Marincin gets to the NHL, just when. It won't be this fall because, well, holy mackerel, we've got a lot of defencemen, but it will be soon. The biggest question I see about Marincin now, is where does he fit? I won't spoil the surprise, but you can name the three defencemen ahead of him in our rankings. And that group doesn't include Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid who aren't exactly old. Suddenly the Oilers have a decent number of good young defencemen either in the NHL or knocking on the door. Might the Oilers look to deal some of that depth for help elsewhere?
Lowetide talked about this last week, and it came up in the comments on the Martin Gernat post as well. Of course the Oilers don't have to do anything right now, they've got a couple of years before there is likely a real logjam, but if they went looking for help via trade I think Marincin's name would be brought up by the other side. If it was up to me I'd want to see one more year from Marincin before making a decision. You've got to give to get though, so he'd be my pick for the player from our top ten who is the most likely to get traded before we do this again.
Check out the complete Top 25 Under 25 List in our