Oilers GM expects Leon Draisaitl to make a 'strong case' to make the team

by Aug 30, 10:37 AM

The Edmonton Oilers are no strangers to having high-level prospects in attendance at training camp, with a plethora of top, young draft picks joining the organization in recent years.

The latest to join the mix is 2014 third overall pick Leon Draisaitl, who general manager Craig MacTavish believes will present the club with a difficult decision in regards to whether the he's ready for the NHL, or if he needs additional seasoning back in the Western Hockey League (or elsewhere).

“Anybody, whether fan, coach, manager, media, anybody that says that they can tell you definitively whether Leon Draisaitl is ready or is not ready before getting the information at training camp is naive,” MacTavish said, as per the Edmonton Sun. “That would reveal a very superficial understanding of the game of hockey. Fortunately, we don’t have to make that decision right now.

“In my mind, I feel he’s going to make a strong case," MacTavish added. "I’ve seen him play, he’s going to make a strong case, I’ll be shocked if he’s not going to make a strong case.”

Draisaitl scored 28 goals and added 67 assists in 64 games for the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders this past season, and could be in line to further develop his game in a European professional league if he fails to crack the Oilers' lineup out of training camp.

Oct 28, 9:40 AM

Report: Oilers intend on burning the first year of Draisaitl's ELC

by Oct 28, 9:40 AM
Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

To no one's surprise, the Edmonton Oilers will reportedly burn a year of center Leon Draisaitl's entry-level contract when the 2014 third overall pick appears in his 10th game of the season this week:

Since Draisaitl was drafted out of the CHL and is under the age of 20, the Oilers could have elected to preserve the first year of his entry-level contract had they re-assigned him to the Prince Albert Raiders prior to his 10th appearance in an NHL game. 

That's not the usual Oilers modus operandi though, and it's not a huge surprise that the big, German-born center will follow the trail blazed by Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov. Draisaitl will likely remain in the NHL for the duration of his age 18 season.

Feature photo courtesy of Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

Oct 24, 1:51 PM

Report: Oilers not concerned about burning year of Draisaitl's entry-level deal

by Oct 24, 1:51 PM

Traditionally the Edmonton Oilers treat the years of entry-level contracts like the ships that carried Hernan Cortes to the New World. They love nothing more than to watch them burn.

Within Edmonton's stable of recent top picks, almost none of the players have been sent back to junior (Jordan Eberle being the lone exception, and he was a late first-round pick). This season they're at it again with center Leon Draisaitl, the No. 3 overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Draisaitl's performance through the first couple of weeks has been decidedly mixed. His body is NHL-ready and his overall hockey awareness is high-end. That much is evident, but it's also clear his skating isn't NHL-caliber yet. 

In terms of his actual results, Draisaitl has been decent for an 18-year-old. The big German-born center has managed two assists through seven games and come out slightly better than even by shot attempt differential at five-on-five. 

On the negative side of the ledger, though, the Oilers are being outscored by a better than two-to-one margin, with Draisaitl on the ice at evens. Also it's clear they're protecting him - both in terms of his territorial deployment, and in terms of their systems play.

Though Draisaitl has taken his lumps, which is to be expected since the NHL eats their young, the Oilers are reportedly considering keeping him past the nine-game threshold. 

What's the nine-game threshold? Well, after a player under the age of 20 and signed to an entry-level deal appears in their tenth game, the first year of their deal is tolled. If the player is re-assigned to their CHL team before appearing in their tenth game, their deal "slides" and begins the next season.

According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Oilers are not too concerned about burning the first year of Draisaitl's entry-level deal. 

"The Oilers aren't overly concerned with (burning a year of Draisaitl's ELC),"
Dreger said during an Insider Trading segment Thursday night. "That doesn't mean that if they were to land a center they wouldn't reevaluate his status.... We know that MacTavish is scouring the NHL looking for a bit more depth up the middle of the ice, so there could be (an) impact on Draisaitl in the near future."

Barring a trade to bolster their center depth, though, it doesn't appear the Oilers are in any rush to send Draisaitl back to the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. 

In the same Insider Trading segment, TSN's Bob McKenzie suggested the Oilers are more concerned about Draisaitl appearing in fewer than 40 games this season. 

While a year of a player's entry-level deal is burned once that player appears in 10 games, at 40 games the player accrues a year of restricted free agent service, which impacts how quickly they can proceed to their more expensive unrestricted free agent years.

McKenzie suggested more and more teams around the league are wary of that threshold, rather than worrying about the "10-game" pressure point. 

That may be true - and if McKenzie says it, it surely is - but it's also worth mentioning the Oilers have never been too concerned about burning entry-level years for top prospects anyway. So why would Draisaitl be any different?

Sep 17, 11:53 AM

MacTavish says Oilers will do 'what's best' for Leon Draisaitl, not organization's need

by Sep 17, 11:53 AM
Bill Streicher / USA TODAY

Leon Draisaitl fits the bill. 

A 6-foot-1, 208-pound centerman with a scoring touch and play-making pedigree, Draisaitl is everything the Edmonton Oilers have lacked at forward over the last few seasons.

That said, the 18-year-old is not a sure-fire choice to slot at No. 2 behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton's center-ice depth.

"It’s a league not all that friendly to youth," general manager Craig MacTavish told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun. "He’s going to have to prove that he’s capable of handling it. All signs point to him being given a great opportunity. 

"Having said all that, we’ll make the decision based on what’s best for Leon and not our organization's need."

MacTavish might be trying to temper expectations, but he's undoubtedly wary of the trap that bit his predecessor. 

When Nugent-Hopkins was drafted first overall three seasons ago, the under-developed 18-year-old was thrust into the Oilers' top six and forced to match up against hulking centerman in the Western Conference gauntlet night in, night out. 

The result was a shoulder injury, an ailment that has persisted since his rookie season and undermined his development across three NHL seasons. 

Feature photo courtesy of Bill Streicher / USA TODAY

Aug 14, 11:56 PM

Report: Leon Draisaitl to play in Europe if he fails to make Oilers

by Aug 14, 11:56 PM

Leon Draisaitl's junior hockey career appears to be over, but that doesn't mean his tenure with the Edmonton Oilers is certain to begin. 

TSN 1260's Dean Millard suggested Thursday that Edmonton will send the 18-year-old back to Europe - not to the Western Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders - if he fails to make Dallas Eakins' opening-night roster.

Here are Millard's comments via Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal:

"I’ll tell you what I've heard from a couple of people: that the Oilers have basically given Leon Draisaitl a roster spot. If for some reason Leon Draisaitl isn't good enough to play on the Oilers, I have been told by a couple of sources that he’s not going back to Prince Albert, that if for some reason he doesn't make the Oilers he’ll be going to Europe."

The 18-year-old German national scored 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games with Prince Albert last season, and could certainly benefit from the stiffer competition the European ranks would provide.