Why The Oilers Rebuilt Incorrectly And How The Flames Are Following Suit


Hello folks, this will be the first blog I've posted on here since realizing that SB Nation allowed for fan posts. Previously I had been writing from time to time on a tumblr account I made for this purpose, but I'm hoping to get a bit more of a crowd from this site. If you're interested in my past ramblings you can check them out at it's not much but it's something. Now to my first blog.

Let's face it, coming out of last season the Edmonton Oilers' rebuild was looking bleak. As any Oilers fan would have told you, the two most difficult positions to acquire are top pairing defensemen. The Oilers were loaded up front with offensive talent but the back end was looking rather sparse with the exception of Justin Schultz and the hope of Oscar Klefbom and teams don't just give away a fully developed player of this caliber, so a trade was out of the question. The main reason behind the Oilers lack of depth, frankly, is that the team went about rebuilding all wrong, though not that it was necessarily their fault.

The way I see it, the ideal method of rebuilding a hockey team is to start by acquiring those two top-end defensemen that will take time to develop and then, during their developmental years, draft high-end forwards that can likely jump right into the NHL.

I can make a strong argument that when the Oilers drafted Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi there were better options on defense and the Oilers should have been developing the defensive corps since 2008. And because it's pretty much impossible to rationalize drafting anybody but Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Nail Yakupov with the first overall selection in their respective drafts, the only way to get from there to here with a rebuilt defense was to take the defenders at the beginning of the rebuild.

While the Oilers have yet to see a high end defenseman come up through their system, the signing of Justin Schultz was a great addition, Oscar Klefbom seems to be on his way to being a nice complimentary defenseman and a couple of players drafted in the later rounds seem like they'll play in the NHL as well: Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat, and David Musil. The NCAA free agent signing of Taylor Fedun may yet pay off as well.

With that as a backdrop to the problems inherent in re-building through the draft, I'm left scratching my head at Calgary's decision to draft Sean Monahan 6th overall in June. I am not about to slam everything the Flames have done, in fact, Sean Monahan has all of the makings of a very strong center in the NHL, but the fact remains that immediately after the Flames took Monahan, the Oilers drafted Darnell Nurse. Personally, I don't see anything that clearly puts Monahan ahead of Nurse in the long run. Monahan will very likely start the season with Calgary and will endure a painful season on what will likely be the worst team in the league while Darnell Nurse will return to the OHL this year and potentially the next.

Monahan is projected as a second to third centerman with some potential to be a first line center, while Darnell Nurse has been regarded as a top pairing defenseman. A few individuals have expressed the sentiment that Nurse may be better than Seth Jones. So why would the Flames not draft Nurse, send him back to the OHL for two seasons while they sit at the bottom of the league, and draft Sam Reinhart and Connor McDavid, the projected first overall players in the 2014 and 2015 drafts?

Following that course, in the 2015-16 season the Flames would start the year with Reinhart, McDavid, and Sven Baertschi up front and a defense anchored by Nurse. Even if these don't wind up being the Flames picks in the next two drafts, the Flames are very likely to have high picks in both 2014 and 2015 and in the past 5 years forwards chosen with those picks have been much more likely to start producing in the NHL at an early age.

By the time Nurse is ready for NHL action the Flames will have a wealth of offensive talent similar to the Oilers and will be missing that high end defenseman unless they see similar luck to Edmonton, and that's simply not something I would bank on. Personally this isn't something I'm going to complain about too much though as the Oilers have now added to their defensive prospect pool that will soon join their offensive talent and I will continue to watch at laugh as the Flames struggle through the rebuild they've so desperately attempted to avoid.

Let me know what you think on twitter @WildcatOil, should the Calgary Flames have drafted Darnell Nurse instead of Sean Monahan or did they make the right decision for their team?


The Copper & Blue is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Edmonton Oilers and hockey in general. These posts do not necessarily represent the views of the staff of The Copper & Blue.

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