Reflecting on the Oiler’s 2nd Pick in 2011
As the most anticipated NHL draft in Edmonton Oilers’ history rapidly approaches, a quiet subplot looms in the background. Connor Mcdavid is surely a slam dunk for the number one pick and eventual generational talent, however, the concern remains: will there be any gems in rounds two through five, the ones every team needs to build a Stanley cup winner?
The 2011 draft is one that has drawn the critical eye of Oiler fans when in the second round, future impact NHL talents Boone Jenner and Brandon Saad, were passed over by the Oilers scouting staff in favor of a stay at home defenseman with the Vancouver Giants, David Musil.
To this point David Musil has played limited games in the NHL (two, to be exact) and questions about his lack of foot speed continue to dog him. Despite his detractors, there are enough positives to support the belief he may develop into the physical defensively sound rearguard the Oilers sorely need.
Of course you can’t argue there were better players taken after Musil, but as far as defenseman taken in rounds two and after, his development is more than comparable. Keep in mind, if Musil does succeed in making it as a pro, an ideal stay at home defenseman doesn’t get a lot of attention with his play. If you don’t notice him, it means he’s done his job.
And as far as progression goes, Musil’s has been steady. He followed up a strong final year in junior with the Edmonton Oil Kings (7-16-23 points in 48 games) with an . . . okay first year at pro in 2013-14 (2 – 10 – 12 and -2 in 54 games). And last year had a very solid season, posting 11 points in 65 games with the OKC Barons as well as improving his plus minus 12 points to plus 2.
But it was when Musil was given a cup of coffee with the big club at the end of last season that some eyebrows were raised. Not by Musil’s flashy play, but with his steady confidence in the limited minutes he received, as well as showing the ability to do something the majority of Oiler defenseman seem unable or unwilling to do: physically stop the cycle of opposing forwards.
As for his much maligned skating ability, I didn’t notice him lagging that far behind in the two NHL games he played. However, most agree it will be an area that requires improvement. I’m not an NHL scout, so they’re probably right. But the good news is that in today’s advanced athletics he can improve upon his footspeed, he just has to be willing to work on it.
It’s in the genes
And on that end, Musil’s bloodlines indicate he has the character and work ethic to overcome this limitation. Not only is there father Frank Musil who toiled 13 seasons as a journeyman NHL defenceman, but also Uncle Bobby Holik who had a lengthy NHL career being one of the first euro-power forwards. None of David’s relatives were known for their flash, but were hard-working physical pro hockey players, which Musil is on pace to be.
But if there were better forwards passed over in the second round, was there a slam dunk better defenceman available? The quick answer to that question is, not really. The criteria for a significantly better D-man pick would be one chosen in the second round or later of the 2011 draft, and who has played at least one full season, or 80 games. At this point, no one really stands out significantly.
The most advanced D-man pick from the 2011 draft picked outside of the first round I could find would be Nikita Nesterov (fifth round pick in 2011) of the Tampa Bay Lighting, who has played 27 regular season games and 17 in the post-season in 2015 and will likely be promoted to full-time duty next season. But he’s sub-200 lbs, and not likely what the Oilers need in terms of physicality.
Conversely, Musil is 6’3, 204 lbs., and has the physical tools he needs to be an effective NHL defenseman . . . as long as he can improve his skating. Look for him to get a longer look this year, and after one more year of seasoning in the minors, a roster spot.
Several years after the 2011 draft, rumors persist that Musil Junior indeed wasn’t the Oilers scouts’ choice in the 2nd round of the 2011 daft, and that they favored Boone Jenner. However, then GM Steve Tambellini apparently insisted on drafting a defenseman and here we are. Four years later the Oilers are still in desperate need of physical defensemen, and while Musil is taking his time getting to the NHL, he should be just what the Oilers need when he gets there.
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