The Edmonton Oilers came into the offseason with a pretty good idea of what they needed to improve. They made a change behind the bench, have added some role players up front, and added a significant piece to their blue line, in signing free agent Andrew Ference.
While Ference is a strong addition to the Oilers, in multiple ways, there’s still the question of whether or not the Oilers have done enough to improve their blue line. This was an Oilers team that was 19th in the league in goals against per game last season. One player wasn’t going to improve their defensive corps by himself.
The blue line isn’t the only thing in need of fixing, obviously, but it is the one in need of the most fixing. Ference is in the mix, but despite the presence of a few decent options left out on the free agent market, as well as potentially in the trade market, the Oilers appear set with the group that they have.
Which could mean that they’re going to open the door for a young defenseman to potentially make an impact. It’s pretty obvious who the main options could be to step into an important role on the blue line for Edmonton this season. The first name that comes to mind is Oscar Klefbom, followed closely by Darnell Nurse.
There are others, but Klefbom and Nurse represent the two biggest names in the system for the Oilers, with Klefbom potentially ready to make the jump in 2013-14, and Nurse having been drafted this summer. Either one, or both, could be making the jump early on in the season for Edmonton.
Each of them shows a maturity beyond their years. Klefbom is a big body on the blue line, standing 6’3″, and brings a strong defensive game to the mix. Nurse has drawn comparisons to Chris Pronger for his style of play, and he should be a successful player at both ends of the ice.
Those are the top two. Of course, there are others. Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat are a couple of guys that come to mind. Point is, the opportunity is there for a young d-man to step in and make an impact for the Oilers this season. They have multiple candidates, and minutes to be had. It’ll be interesting to see who could crack the roster when training camp and the preseason roll around.