AT RANDOM: ABOUT LEON . . .

Robin Brownlee
May 09 2014 12:50PM

LeonDraisaitl

When it comes to discussions about the need for the Edmonton Oilers to add size and edginess to their line-up, I've often said you can't go by size alone because big players can play small and small players can play big.

That's probably why I've got mixed feelings that the Oilers will likely have the opportunity to select Prince Albert's Leon Draisaitl with the third overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Draisaitl is big. He's skilled. He's a centre. The question about Draisaitl, at least among many fans, is his competitive nature. Does he play with enough passion? Does he have enough edge to his game? Or, is he a soft, passive player in a big body without the fire of slightly smaller Sam Bennett?

That's the question, and I don’t have a definitive answer. Jason Gregor just posted an in-depth interview he did with Draisaitl on the show last week, so I won't go over too much of the ground he's already covered, but for me, the money quote from the interview is obvious.

WHAT HE SAID

Draisaitl

GREGOR: "Some suggest that you’re not maybe a fireball, you’re not highly competitive. From games I’ve seen, I don’t agree with that. How do you respond to those who suggest that maybe you’re not a highly competitive player?" 

DRAISAITL: "I know I’m a really, really competitive person. I want to win every single game. I know people say that about me but you know, I think it’s the style of game I play. In my opinion, that’s why people say that a lot.

"I like to control the game rather than speeding it up all of the time. And I know that I have to learn to speed it up too and that’s something that I’m working on right now, and I know that’s one of my weaknesses. I think that’s what people say because I like to control the game. I like to have the puck on my stick and then make things happen and you know. But I know that I have to work on it for sure, it’s definitely one of my weaknesses."

Playing big doesn't necessarily mean running opponents through the boards (not that doing so is a bad thing in my books) or dropping the gloves at every sideways glance from an opponent (ditto). It's about willingness to compete. It's about hating to lose. It's about being hard on the puck. It involves cliché stuff about being at your best when the chips are down. It's about becoming more engaged rather than backing off when it gets nasty. 

I've seen countless big players without the first clue about what it takes to truly compete and play with an edge (hello, Jason Bonsignore) and I've seen just as many small players with spit-in-your-eye brass and gumption that far outstrips their physical size (Doug Gilmour comes to mind). 

The old axiom tells us it's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog. I've always believed that. Whether that trait comes in a bigger body like Draisaitl or somebody like Bennett or Sam Reinhart, that's the player the Oilers need when they take the podium in Philadelphia.

WHILE I'M AT IT . . . 

ToddNelson

. . . Jonathan Willis has done a couple of items of late about Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. On merit, I believe Nelson deserves a promotion to the NHL, but I question the wisdom of adding a coach without considerable NHL coaching experience to the Edmonton staff, given its make-up now

Dallas Eakins has one season as an NHL head coach on his resume. He needs an experienced addition to his staff, not somebody learning on the fly. Eakins needs help in the form of a seasoned veteran coach, not a newbie, so the timing isn't good. That's not Nelson's fault, but it is his problem.

. . . I'm not the first to mention this, but I wonder if the Philadelphia Flyers and Craig MacTavish might re-visit the possibility of getting a deal done at the draft in June. The Flyers are always open for business and I can see new GM Ron Hextall and Paul Holmgren wanting to move up in draft order. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 WeridAl
May 09 2014, 05:06PM
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@Geoff

How many x-NHL & veteran AHL players were on those Marlies teams?

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#52 Pouzar99
May 09 2014, 05:18PM
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What's with all the shots at ColourMeImpressed? He has done NOTHING wrong, nor has Robin in responding to him. He politely but forcefully challenged Robin's opinion piece and was forcefully responded to. No harm, no foul. I hope he keeps posting.

Moving on, I agree with Robin that the Oilers must bring in an experienced former head coach to help Eakins, but also strongly feel Nelson deserves an assistant coach's position, particularly as a PP specialist as JW has suggested. Firing all the current assistant coaches is the logical move, but like Robin I doubt very much it will happen.

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#53 Total Points
May 09 2014, 05:20PM
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if the Edmonton Oiler or any other NHL team do not know if Leon plays aggressive, hard, competitive, etc, every night then the NHL scouts really suck.

After I work with a guy or play casual sports against a guy for six months I know if he is aggressive, works hard, etc.

Good grief

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#54 Cold Hard Truth
May 09 2014, 05:24PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

What I'd like to see happen and what I think will happen are two distinctly different matters.

Buchberger's tenure here under multiple head coaches speaks for itself. I think he should have been gone long ago. I don't suspect that will happen, given his relationship with Lowe and Katz. As for Smith, I haven't heard much negative about him, but you could also argue he could/should be gone because head coaches should pick their assistants.

Nelson looks like a fine young coach to me and I'd have no problem adding him and an experienced NHL coach, but unless somebody goes that's not going to happen.

According to Willis there is no statistic to measure whether or not Katz and Lowes' relationship with Buchberger has a negative impact on the team. So I guess we're stuck with them.

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#55 Oiler Al
May 09 2014, 06:02PM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

According to Willis there is no statistic to measure whether or not Katz and Lowes' relationship with Buchberger has a negative impact on the team. So I guess we're stuck with them.

Wondering if Bucky got those big lips chewing gum all the time?

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#56 Walter Sobchak
May 09 2014, 06:12PM
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Good read RB.

Here's my points with drafting Draisaitl.

- The Oilers have to many players that play like Draisaitl already.

- he's a late BD compared to the others.

- a lot of people in the hockey community have commented on his competitiveness. Where there smoke there's fire.

- As far as Nelson goes, I move Bucky & Smith into a different spot in the org, give Nelson the Associate coach position, that way if Eakins stumbles you have your future coach already in place.

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#57 ColourMeImpressed
May 09 2014, 06:23PM
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To be honest, I regret saying anything.

At worst I made the guy mad and possibly made him look bad.

At best... what? Nothing. I didn't accomplish anything except a whole lot of negativity to a writer who had the balls to call the Oilers out at a time when doing so was hazardous to your career.

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#58 Romulus' Apotheosis
May 09 2014, 06:30PM
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The old axiom tells us it's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog. I've always believed that. Whether that trait comes in a bigger body like Draisaitl or somebody like Bennett or Sam Reinhart, that's the player the Oilers need when they take the podium in Philadelphia.

Or, you know, they could just take the best player.

The problem here, which Draisaitl alludes to… is that "perception" of effort often makes a stronger impression than actual "effectiveness" and bigger men tend to look disinterested (Eakins commented on this re: Petry).

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#59 Quicksilver ballet
May 09 2014, 06:53PM
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I always thought air was free.

Then I bought a bag of chips....

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#60 OilDieHard
May 09 2014, 07:14PM
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Total Points wrote:

if the Edmonton Oiler or any other NHL team do not know if Leon plays aggressive, hard, competitive, etc, every night then the NHL scouts really suck.

After I work with a guy or play casual sports against a guy for six months I know if he is aggressive, works hard, etc.

Good grief

they don't suck, but they haven't set the world on fire either at the draft table. wouldn't bother me if they were replaced one day.

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#62 Shaun
May 09 2014, 08:09PM
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Draft Draisaitl

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#63 Trenton
May 09 2014, 08:19PM
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I'm surprised Brownlee hasn't deleted any of these comments. Colour me impressed!

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#64 Oil Can
May 09 2014, 08:21PM
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Hall Awaits wrote:

Robin, would you trade the 3rd overall to Philly for Brayden Schenn and the 16/17th overall pick?

I myself would not but I think this is the kind of deal they're going to try to pull if they move the pick.

I think that might not be a bad trade if it went a little further, and was for Schenn, the 17 pick and Scott Laughton for the third pick and Sam Gagner.

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#65 Derian Hatcher
May 09 2014, 08:42PM
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Here is my 2 cents…(not even worth that)…but I find ON highly entertaining. Both the articles and the comments challenge me to think about things in a different way…. Rarely does my personal opinion change (Eakins hire was a mistake), but I really enjoy the writers, all of whom provoke thought. There are always excellent points and debate in the comments section - compared to the quantity and quality of comments on other NATIONS, the stuff here is Bill Shakespeare! There is nothing like a good discussion or debate regarding coaching, players, trades, draft picks, etc.

Writers - keep up the excellent work. Commenters - keep it up, and don't get personal. Eakins - for the love of Kenny Baird (remember him? he's in the WHA Hall of Fame !) find some humility and get an experienced asst coach. The REAL smartest man in the room knows what he doesn't know.

And Kevin….I actually do have a concern….uhg ..nevermind….

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#66 I tried it at home
May 09 2014, 09:17PM
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Nothing to do with anything above, but Im loving watching Minny and Chicago go at it. No one running into thier teammates on breakways, people in position when and where theyre supposed to be.... Wow. I wish we had professional hockey in Edmonton. And that Brodziak guy, good guy, character player. * pours rum, sobs*

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#67 Danger Pay
May 10 2014, 03:29AM
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ColourMeImpressed wrote:

... you think that polite, considered post, where I make allowance for the limitations of freelance writers, was a troll?

OK then.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a_sx3ozoXI

There's a good shinny game in Sherwood park, we should go for a skate sometime and have a couple pints afterwards. You can write an article about it on your gaming website. (Starts to do Ray Lewis Dance, followed by a, Stadium Level, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) http://www.onlinesportshandicapping.com/files/baltimore-ravens-ray-lewis-intro.jpg

#dontmesswiththebrownlee

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#68 Ryan
May 10 2014, 08:49AM
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Wow the full courts press is on for Leon . This feels like a situation where the oilers are trying the out smart every one. Just figure out what you want in a player and draft that guy but you can't make a guy more aggressive

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#69 borisnikov
May 10 2014, 09:01AM
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Although Brownlee isn't my favorite flavour, there are plenty of flavours to choose from in the ice cream cooler. Don't like it? C'est la vie. Move along and taste another...

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#70 HockeyYodaDotcom
May 10 2014, 09:07AM
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Shaun wrote:

Draft Draisaitl

You must be a Flames fan.

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#71 YakSaitl
May 10 2014, 09:41AM
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After seeing the game Germany-Kazakhstan I am absolutely convinced that Draisaitl would be a huge addition for the Oilers. In my opinion he played a very very good game and nearly everytime he was on the ice he took control of the game. He is really good at protecting the puck and his passing game is excellent (!!!). He may not be the most aggressive player out there but he uses his size perfectly. He wins nearly every battle on the wall.

Please take Draisaitl if he is available!!!

My guess is that he will be taken before the Oilers pick if he shows that well at the WC as he did today.

PS: He had an assist on the first goal.

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#72 HockeyYodaDotcom
May 10 2014, 10:15AM
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Will wrote:

Damn, that was a good article.

I think though he missed the boat when looking at Chicago. In terms of draft success it was neat to see Detroit is a good model for development, but haven't pulled an elite player out of the draft in forever.

I don't mind the conclusion that Boston has been the best at the draft table over the last decade, but I would argue no team even touches Chicago's drat ability. In addition to Elite talent like Kane, Towes, and Keith, they also drafted Buflygn, Seebrook, Saad, Shaw, Bickle, Versteeg, Crawford, Hjalmarsson, and Smith.

That is an entire team basically built through the draft with only Oduya and Hossa being other real big impact players on the team.

Main difference between the Oil and Chicago in terms of successful rebuild through the draft, Chicago's ability to draft actual NHL talent, or at least develop into talent instead of washing it out of the league or sending it away before becoming a useful player (Greene, Cogliano, Brodziak, Nash)

Boston is good at drafting no doubt. But I think it's important to factor in the draft number they were picking those elite players. If you're picking top three or four -some years you can't miss. Two of Boston's three elite players were top five picks. What impresses me more is when teams are able to find gems in the second or later rounds. As you've pointed out, this is what Chicago has done so effectively. Montreal is also very good at finding gems. (Subban 2nd rd). While teams like Florida have had a lot of misses with high picks and the result is obvious.

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#73 Walter Sobchak
May 10 2014, 10:30AM
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YakSaitl wrote:

After seeing the game Germany-Kazakhstan I am absolutely convinced that Draisaitl would be a huge addition for the Oilers. In my opinion he played a very very good game and nearly everytime he was on the ice he took control of the game. He is really good at protecting the puck and his passing game is excellent (!!!). He may not be the most aggressive player out there but he uses his size perfectly. He wins nearly every battle on the wall.

Please take Draisaitl if he is available!!!

My guess is that he will be taken before the Oilers pick if he shows that well at the WC as he did today.

PS: He had an assist on the first goal.

I wouldn't put a lot of stock into these games.

After all the powerhouse France team beat Canada.

I wonder how many people here have seen Bennett play?

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#74 hallsyoilerforever5
May 10 2014, 12:11PM
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Whether the oilers draft Bennett or Draisaitl ; assuming Ekblad goes 1 or 2. The best path is not to rush them and let them at least have another year in the juniors.

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#75 bwar
May 10 2014, 12:24PM
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Brownlee you should have a look at the top cheers and top of the trash heap for this blog. Might be enlightening for you.

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#77 bwar
May 10 2014, 03:38PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Unwilling to adapt change or accept any form of criticism? You might be in line for a promotion to be Kevin Lowe's next right hand man.

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