by Lisa McRitchie on 01/29/12 at 12:00 AM ET
David Musil was the first son of an ex-Oiler drafted at the 2011 NHL entry draft in St. Paul Minnesota. You couldn’t help but wonder if he was selected for his bloodlines or his abilities, but knowing that Musil had been ranked anywhere from 23 (The Hockey News) and 38 (CSS for N.A. skaters) taking the defenceman at 31 was reasonable. When Steve Tambellini talked about the sons of Oilers up for grabs, he did agree that these players had been raised to handle the stresses that would come from being a professional hockey player.
One thing is certain after speaking with Musil a few times now, Musil tends to be a serious player who absolutely hates to lose. The biggest and most sincere smile I have seen from Musil came as he was drafted to the Oilers in the second round. The relief was plain to see, enough so that Musil was able to put aside the feelings of disappointment that he did not go in the first day.
At the World Juniors, Musil and the Czech Republic nearly beat the Russians for a chance to play for a medal. The loss weighed heavy with Musil following not only the loss to Russia, but also the victory over Slovakia.
For the average Oiler fan living in Alberta, there are not many opportunities to see David Musil. There were opportunities through the World Juniors. If you saw only the games in Calgary however, as was my situation, you only had two opportunities. And so, a rare trip to Calgary to face the Calgary Hitmen was an excellent opportunity to see Musil play.
Because the WHL does not track time on ice, it can be tricky to say more than Musil plays “a lot” of time on the ice. Musil plays both left and ride side with ease, making him an ideal player in a game with several penalties back to back and especially 5 on 3s where there isn’t always enough time to get your first choice of pairings on the ice. Another bonus for Musil is that he has chemistry with every defenceman on the Giants team.
“It kind of depends on whether or not you are paired with a right hander or a left hander,” Musil said of his positioning during the game. “I don’t mind playing on either side. If it’s a right hander, I don’t mind playing on the left side. If it’s a left hander I don’t mind playing on the right side. I don’t find a big thing in that. I play wherever the coach puts me and do the best I can out there.“
January has not been the easiest month for Musil. It began with the World Juniors which was a lot of games packed into a few days, as well as a different kind of competition.
Before playing with the Giants again Musil took a couple of days off from practise but for Musil, “Every game I’m excited for. So that helps me to get my energy level up. I don’t really look at it if I’m tired or not. I just go out there and do my best.”
Musil was also sidelined with a wrist injury, but Musil was certainly fortunate that it was not broken and did not require surgery. Even better was that Musil only missed a few games. Still, on Friday night the Vancouver Giant’s head coach Don Hay said “David is just coming off injury right now, so he’s still not 100%.”
Because Don Hay sees Musil play more than anyone, Hay’s opinion of Musil’s play and development will mean more than anything I could say. “His play has been very solid for us,” Hay began. “He’s a real good, solid defencive defenceman. He’s not a flashy guy, but he’s a really dependable guy.
“I think that the Oilers know what they’re getting from him. He’s a good solid defencive defenceman that can move the puck out and keep his end pretty solid. I watched David during the world juniors and I thought that he played really well for the Czech team and he’s going to a really good pro.”
Of course Musil is still developing; he was only drafted this past summer and defenceman tend to take longer to develop than forwards. For Musil, he is a shutdown defenceman who seems to excel on the penalty kill. However “I think his play with the puck has got to get better,” explains Hay. “He makes really good decisions with passing the puck and making good outlets, but his play along the offensive blue line can improve a little bit and that’s something that he’s been working on.”
Musil is aware of the current state of the Oilers. He is aware of their deficiencies along the blue line, and their current position at 29th in the league and the fact that some prospects have moved swiftly through the organization to play in the NHL.
I asked Musil about player agent Rich Winter’s piece criticizing the Oilers for not playing their young defencemen enough and what Musil felt about his development plan as he sees it. “I try to concentrate more on my game and get better every day. I try to improve on what I need to improve on and I’m sure if I do that, it all depends on how the Oilers will want to do with me. It’s all up to me, I’ve got to keep getting better and I can go from there.”
Musil is a true defensive defenceman having only put up only one goal and fifteen assits in 39 games played. While Musil’s scoring is down this season from his previous two, his number of penalty minutes and fights are up. So far this season, Musil has 4 fights and 78 penalty minutes. Despite Musil’s impressive size, 6’4” and 203 lbs, Musil does not often drop the gloves. And when he does, Musil tends to use his size more than his fists to bring his opponent down.
The Oilers are putting together a group of players who absolutely despise losing, and Musil is just one of them. A fierce competitor, a skilled player, and a son of a former NHLer, David Musil brings a lot to the table and will be a true asset for the Oilers in the coming years.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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