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Schultz believes Oilers have ‘depth on the back end’

Aug 9, 2013, 6:44 PM EDT

Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers have, by way of terrific drafting position these past few years, built an impressive core of young forwards with increasing star potential.

The focus might soon switch to the Oilers’ blue line heading into September.

Led by 23-year-old Justin Schultz, who was the league’s top scoring rookie defenseman with 27 points during the regular season, the Oilers have been busy this summer trying to improve their defense corps.

Not only did they go to the free agent market for help, but they strayed from their methods of the past few years by taking a defenseman high up in the first round of the draft.

They signed free agent veteran defenseman Andrew Ference, who had just wrapped up a Stanley Cup Final with the Boston Bruins, and drafted Darnell Nurse with the seventh overall pick in June’s NHL Draft.

And that has Schultz speaking highly of the Oilers defensive unit, as training camp approaches.

“We’ve got a lot of depth on the back end now. It’s going to provide for a lot of competition. Everyone, including myself, has got to come ready to camp to make this team. It’s going to make us better,” Schultz told

“I’ve been training hard the last couple of months, enjoying my time off. I’m really excited for the season to come here. I’ve had enough of summer. I’m ready to go.”

  1. cardsandbluesforever - Aug 9, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    “Depth on the back end”….nah its too easy, i’ll leave it alone…

  2. phillyphanatic77 - Aug 9, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    Quantity over quality on the Oilers blueline. Although the Flyers have a similar amount of “depth” themselves.

  3. lordfletcher - Aug 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    I really enjoy watching this team fail now, kind of like watching the NY Jets. There is very limited back end depth, only Klefbom and Nurse come to mind …. equal chance that one or both ends up out of the league in 7 years or VERY quality defensemen. time will tell.

    My draft picks for the Oilers would have been:

    2008 – great choice with Eberle – can’t say who I would have targeted then but kudos
    2009 – Ryan Ellis over Magnus, I don’t think this mistake. just didn’t work out. Ellis has a lot to prove still
    2010 – Trade down!!! I loved Seguin, Fowler, Skinner and Nino. Seguin, who knows if that would have been better or worse, Fowler would have been a big addition on the back end, Skinner has a lot of skills but is a smaller skater, and Nino has a long way to go to equal what Hall has done so far. but with trading down and adding more draft picks and top prospects, I think this was the year to do it!
    2011 – Trade down (if possible), add more picks or prospects and select – Gabriel Landeskog
    2012 – Another option to trade down and take Murray or Gally (depending on if previous years had different results). I don’t mind Nail, but I think there were better options for long term success.
    2013 – Nurse, quality choice but I would have snagged Valeri Nichushkin (pending previous drafts were done correctly and more defensemen were taking)

    Just looking back at all their opportunities and I think they have drafted wrong (not badly) but went small and flashy over fundamental / size / a better overall team, IMO. I think Buffalo and now Dallas have done a better job in the last 2 years than Edmonton has done in 5.

  4. zacmelvinmcnutt - Aug 10, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    When your top D-man is Justin Schultz, it doesn’t exactly indicate that your team has “depth on the back end”

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