They have ton of second and third pairing guys. Not many guys who can step up into the top pair. Petry maybe.
Smid and Belov are your second pairing guys. Ference and Young Schultz are third pairing guys. Old Schultz is done. So yeah, one more top four guy.
Semantics. A Weber or Subban would be great, but they are nearly impossible to come by.
So Ference is a number 3 on a Stanley cup winning team but a bottom pairing guy in Edmonton? I don't think so. Schultz defensively
needs a lot of work but offensively he is easily a top 4 defenceman and the closest thing we have to top pairing offense.
Everyone who is complaining that we didn't go after Downie need to ask themselves if you would move Gordon for Downie? Third line center > Third line winger.
Yes Nurse is a year older but Ekblad isn't lights out better.
Points aren't exactly what I was talking about. Ekblad is extremely strong defensively already. He is a more complete package than Nurse at this point in time. Bigger, faster (maybe), meaner, better shot etc. Nurse has the talent but I don't know if he is smart enough to play defense properly. Ekblad is the type of player that can log 30 minutes in a game like Chara, Keith or Weber.
I'm basing this on his play this year and not his reputation playing on a team behind a future Hall of Famer.
But he's a garbage fire in his own end who can't be trusted to handle top opposition. Garbage ES time and loads of PP time for him until he grows a clue.
I don't see how playing behind Chara makes Ference any worse. It's not like he was his defence partner. I also think Schultz can handle second pairing minutes but is the only defenceman we have that's capable of producing offense. Thus, the coach wants him out as much as possible to feed his top 6 forwards. I think Ference-Schultz is good enough for a second pair on any NHL team. The problem is that Smid-Petry is also a second pairing.