After six appearances in the 25U25 it would appear that a consensus on Dillon Simpson may be getting close. Nine of the ten panellists have ranked him between 11 & 13 while Michael was the lone panellist to rank Simpson outside of the top 20. A lot of this comes from the fact that Simpson has been in the Oilers system for three years now. He has also played almost four full seasons for North Dakota and there is just more data to help make a decision. He isn't just Craig Simpson's son any more.
|13||Dillon Simpson||02/10/1993||#92 - 2011||11||13||12||11||12||13||21||11||13||12|
Previous Rank: 13
Simpson isn't the biggest defenseman out there, he is listed as 6'2" and 200lbs. His foot speed has been criticized in the past but he appears to make up for it in his positioning. He also makes a real effort to stay out of the penalty box which is evident in his 34PIM over his 141GP with UND. Simpon is aware of his short comings and has worked on ways to address them. Here is what he said in an interview with Alan last January.
...positioning is a big thing. For me, a big part of that is my ability to read the play and anticipate where guys are going to go and how the play is going to develop. I try my best not to let myself get out of position and put myself in a position to take penalties. Growing up without the best foot-speed like we talked about, positioning is something I knew I would have to rely on and something I have developed pretty well. I consider that one of my biggest strengths...being effective while staying on the ice and out of the box.
This season Simpson was named captain of UND. His boxcars so far are 5-12-17 and 6PIM in 27GP. He also leads his team in blocked shots (definite Oilers material) with 62. As he mentioned in his interview he has tried to stay on the ice instead of the penalty box and uses his positioning to his advantage.
Now that the scouting report is out of the way here is the reality. Simpson has a huge mountain to climb should he sign a contract with the Oilers. Even though the Oilers possess one of the worst defensive cores in the NHL there are a lot of defensive prospects well ahead of him in the depth chart. The list of players in front of him include Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin*, Darnell Nurse and possibly the 2014 1st Round Pick. That is quite the log jam and that list doesn't even include Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry or the albatross contract Andrew Ference. Simpson will be at the bottom of that list until he can prove himself at the AHL level at least and as we've seen with guys like Taylor Fedun and Mark Arcobello a lot of times it still means absolutely nothing.
That leads into the second point, because of Simpson's age (21) he could potentially pull a Justin Schultz this off season and sign with any team of his choosing should he withdraw from college at the right time. Another option is to withdraw from college at the end of semester, not sign with Edmonton and go back into the draft as an overager. Finally the Oilers may just see the writing on the wall and trade Simpson before he has the opportunity to use the above options. With those three options available and if each is considered equal that means there is a 1 in 4 chance that Simpson is around for the next round of 25U25.
Simpson definitely has the tools to be a top 4 defender in the NHL. He has made great strides to improve his game and compete at a decent level of hockey. The only thing lying in his way right now is the Oilers and where they see him fitting in over the next few years. Hopefully we get the chance to see him as an Oiler some time in the future but at this point I just can't say that we ever will.