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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#1 ColourMeImpressed
May 09 2014, 02:00PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

If you want to be taken seriously, take some of your own advice and "back up your opinion better" by putting your name to your comments.

That way, I can look up your body of work and make an informed opinion about whether you've got any advice worth listening to, even if I highly doubt it. Otherwise, spare me the writing tips.

I went out of my way to politely offer some feedback and give some points on how to flesh out a quick opinion piece, and you've done nothing but dump on me.

1. Why would I give you my real name? I enjoy my anonymity and I don't get paid for my posts. You do.

2. The website I helped build, finance, and worked for, for over a decade, died in 2008 and I hadn't worked for it since 2006.

3. Many of the lessons I learned about opinion pieces came from me getting ripped for writing them badly. So I'm sure if the site was still up, you could find plenty of trash I wrote in '97 or '99 or even 2000 and then talk crap about what a bad writer I was. Guess what, my first few years, they were rough. You've also shown yourself to be petty enough that I don't doubt that you'd go the low road.

Have a good day, Robin.

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#2 ColourMeImpressed
May 09 2014, 01:00PM
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I understand this is the summer, things are slow and there's not much to write about. Gregor provided at least an interview with Draisaitl, and while the pageviews are easy with an opinion piece, I think you can do better than merely adding the standard fluff about fight in the dog. For example, Draisaitl scored 48 points in the final 22 games of the season to push the Raiders to a playoff spot. That, to me, indicates that he is competitive, driven, and was either getting a lot of lucky bounces or was really pushing hard.

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#3 ColourMeImpressed
May 09 2014, 01:34PM
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Danger Pay wrote:

Go back to your gaming website, TROLL

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

OK then.

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#4 ColourMeImpressed
May 09 2014, 01:20PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

So, more numbers then?

Items here are a mix of analysis and opinion. There's room for both. Find what you like and don't bitch about what you don't. It's really boring.

I did my absolute best to provide constructive feedback without dumping on you like some people seem to.

Your reply does give me an idea why people skip the constructive feedback. I'm not "bitching".

As a former freelance writer and editor in chief of a major gaming website myself, I understand there are deadlines, that you can't always get someone you'd like to talk to on the phone for a quote. I'm sure some people here imagine they'll ring up the Raiders HQ, get the coach on the line for a tidbit, or maybe talk to the staff on the Oil Kings and see what they had to think about Draisaitl's consistency, but I realize that's unrealistic. Teams aren't going to rudely comment on a player from another squad, and the coaching staff on the Raiders probably has better things to do than answer the same question, especially when they too aren't going to criticize their own guy - doubly so when he might come back to play for them.

That said, you can back up your opinion a bit better. Ask yourself, what differentiates this blog post from any of a dozen comments on HFBoards right now? You found some quotes and you shared your opinion on them. 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, that would have been standard and acceptable. These days, opinion is cheap, so you need to spice it up a little. Bring up an uncommon fact, or maybe see if you can get Pronman on the line to elaborate on his comments - something.

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#5 ColourMeImpressed
May 09 2014, 01:53PM
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djc wrote:

There is a segment of the Oilernation readers who believe if you don't agree with a certain opinion, you are a troll or work for the Oilers or both.

I'm not even disagreeing with Robin's opinion (not necessarily in agreement with it either). I simply recognize it as merely his opinion and as someone who was involved in his line of work for 10 years, I think it's more or less mandatory these days to back an opinion up a little better. As I said, opinions are cheap these days - with the internet anyone can have a large audience.

I'm also not expecting Robin to be a fortune teller or be able to correctly predict that Bennett or Reinhart will be better than Draisaitl - because if he was that good, there are head scouting jobs in the NHL that pay a whole lot better than freelance writing does.

I just dislike being called a troll when I put a lot of effort into sounding neutral while I attempt to explain that position.

Like, if I were to write an opinion piece about Bennett vs Draisaitl, and I didn't have access to first-hand sources like coaches and scouts, I'd probably dig up that bit about 48 points in the final 22 games, contrast that with how the other guys finished the season, maybe compare to Monahan (who is another big centre who played for a bad team), and perhaps compare Reinhart to Nuge and Bennett to Brule or some other smaller firecracker type. Flesh things out a little.

I hate coming across as critical of a writer as a person, because I don't want to threaten Robin's livelihood. I'm not envious of a career as a freelance writer, even if he is lucky enough to cover sports, because I know freelancing is a tough gig with not a lot of stability to it. If anything I'm trying to encourage him to see that there are ways he can add value to an article like this beyond just his opinion in and of itself.

Anyway, I'm going to leave this thread now before I derail it completely.

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#6 SteveO
May 09 2014, 01:58PM
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What I don't understand brownlee is why when someone questions you about a blog you written or something on twitter you get all defensive about it? I agree with the first comment made in this section and you get all defensive. How about growing some thick shoulders and not always upset about what people say? Geez

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#7 djc
May 09 2014, 01:45PM
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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.

There is a segment of the Oilernation readers who believe if you don't agree with a certain opinion, you are a troll or work for the Oilers or both.

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#8 Harry2
May 09 2014, 02:08PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Fair point, but if you add two coaches, who goes?

Heres a crazy thought, why not ALL OF THEM. The fact that Buckburger is still employed by this team makes me sick

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#9 Mike Krushelnyski
May 09 2014, 01:13PM
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Sorry Leon, but we're going to have to pass on you.

Any suspicions of you being a soft player were just confirmed by that scarf.

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#10 OilersDynasty
May 09 2014, 02:13PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Maybe you should do the same when watching Oilers games. Always bitching and what not.

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#11 Geoff
May 09 2014, 01:16PM
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On Nelson why not hire him and a NHL experienced coach to be assistants?

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#12 Oilers john
May 09 2014, 02:45PM
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I am from Prince Albert and over the last two years have watched Leon countless times. He has put the Raiders on his back and carried them many times. He in my humble opinion is just what the Oilers need. He is very coach able and extremely determined.

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#13 50 in 39
May 09 2014, 02:17PM
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@baggedmilk

Yes, everyone is a critic about everything.

Oops, do I need to supply references to be credible?

It is just blog discussion.

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#14 Robin Brownlee
May 09 2014, 01:11PM
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So, more numbers then?

Items here are a mix of analysis and opinion. There's room for both. Find what you like and don't bitch about what you don't. It's really boring.

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#15 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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#16 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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#17 Rama Lama
May 09 2014, 01:12PM
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If Leon is the kind of player that never quits on a play........shows puck patience and controls the play, that is good enough for me.

A part of me says I would rather gamble on a big guy who has skill, given the general size of our top six forwards. Sam Bennett is very interesting because he plays more like Nathan Mckinnion and has an attitude like Darcy Tucker.......what is not to like, except he is small right now.

I'm still praying Ekblad falls to us!

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#18 baggedmilk
May 09 2014, 02:09PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Robin, I must have missed the part where you're forcing people to read what you write?

Everyone's a critic

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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#22 gravis_82
May 09 2014, 03:36PM
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ColourMeImpressed wrote:

I understand this is the summer, things are slow and there's not much to write about. Gregor provided at least an interview with Draisaitl, and while the pageviews are easy with an opinion piece, I think you can do better than merely adding the standard fluff about fight in the dog. For example, Draisaitl scored 48 points in the final 22 games of the season to push the Raiders to a playoff spot. That, to me, indicates that he is competitive, driven, and was either getting a lot of lucky bounces or was really pushing hard.

completely agree. I form my own opinions, I don't need to know the opinions of someone who has no influence on the team whatsoever, nor has any inside knowledge over and above what I have myself. Mac T's opinions - yes, K-Lowe - yes, Eakins - yes. I want to see numbers and analysis that will help me grow my understanding of this team and the game as a whole. Something that might make me think about something in a different light, something that challenges convention etc etc. An opinion piece such as this is always disappointing. Only reason I open it and read it is that I am hoping it contains those evidence based conclusions that I am looking for. Then I read, and it does not. But, you got your page view. One faithful readers opinion.

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#24 baggedmilk
May 09 2014, 03:05PM
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@Andrew

I always find it amazing how many people have given up on Yakupov already. #OFDTO

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#25 Randaman
May 09 2014, 02:48PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Fair point, but if you add two coaches, who goes?

Smith & Bucky... Ya right what was I thinking. Sorry Kevin

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#26 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
May 09 2014, 03:19PM
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Interesting comments today.

RB has been doing short pieces like this for a long time now. Some are informative. Some are not. I've definitely noticed the trend.

And judging by the trash button, it's good to see not everyone is, as RB himself puts it, a fart-catcher.

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#27 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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#28 baggedmilk
May 09 2014, 03:18PM
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Geoff wrote:

Maybe the people who haven't given up on Yakupov just don't post much :P

That's all I can hope for! #TeamYak

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#29 vetinari
May 09 2014, 01:40PM
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Basically, it seems like most would generally prefer that we use our pick on someone in the mold of a Lucic who is willing to cross the line from time to time to make a point or to avenge a wrong and this is not Draisaitl... that being said, I would love to fill the 2C spot with a puck possession type of player like Draisaitl and find a coke machine who can skate and play the wing instead.

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#30 Geoff
May 09 2014, 03:13PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

I always find it amazing how many people have given up on Yakupov already. #OFDTO

Maybe the people who haven't given up on Yakupov just don't post much :P

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#31 Wintoon
May 09 2014, 01:08PM
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I agree that Eakins would benefit from the presence of an assistant with NHL head coaching experience on his staff. Given that Kirk Muller was recently let go by Carolina, would he be a viable candidate?

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#32 baggedmilk
May 09 2014, 02:29PM
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50 in 39 wrote:

Yes, everyone is a critic about everything.

Oops, do I need to supply references to be credible?

It is just blog discussion.

If you've got sources give them to me. I have none and apparently I need some to write here.

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#34 Pucker
May 09 2014, 01:06PM
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Good points. I like Bennett over Leon. I can see Oiler fans losing patience and trying to run him out of town but do we ever need a good centre.

I heard some talk on 1260, I think it was an ex-coach who had Kirk Muller as an assistant. He thought he had great attitude with NHL experience and would make a darn good assistant. I hope the Oiler's are consider him, or someone similar.

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#35 Soccer Steve
May 09 2014, 03:22PM
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Yikes. What is going on at ON?

Religious 'debates' in one comment thread.

He-said, she-said juvenile back and forth's in another.

Can't we just let the Oilers set the bar for bottoming out?

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#37 Lochenzo
May 09 2014, 01:29PM
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Gregor brought up an interesting note about Draisaitl. He's very new to the North American game, and Leon's made huge strides just in his second year over. Makes you wonder how much more progression there may be.

That being said, on this discussion about compete and fight level, certain styles of play are more obvious to the naked eye than others. Banging and crashing is not only more obvious to fans, but maybe also to the team watching from the bench. There was many a night last year where we've seen this team come out flat. I wonder if having a top 6 guy with some mash and moxy would get these guys going. The old lead by example cliche.

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#38 Ed in Edmonton
May 09 2014, 04:11PM
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gravis_82 wrote:

completely agree. I form my own opinions, I don't need to know the opinions of someone who has no influence on the team whatsoever, nor has any inside knowledge over and above what I have myself. Mac T's opinions - yes, K-Lowe - yes, Eakins - yes. I want to see numbers and analysis that will help me grow my understanding of this team and the game as a whole. Something that might make me think about something in a different light, something that challenges convention etc etc. An opinion piece such as this is always disappointing. Only reason I open it and read it is that I am hoping it contains those evidence based conclusions that I am looking for. Then I read, and it does not. But, you got your page view. One faithful readers opinion.

Agree that an opinion piece like this one is pretty thin.

As a wise man once said "opinions are like ***holes, everyone has one".

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#39 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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#40 Andrew
May 09 2014, 02:54PM
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One of the ISS scouts was on radio yesterday ( with Stauffer? ) and credited Draisatl with some effective play and he also said the reason they had him at no. 6 in the draft was a tendency to disappear at key times. I would rather Bennett be chosen who apparently compares favourably to Toews in compete and consistency.

I haven't seen any of these players play a complete game let alone 50 or 60 viewings. I suspect 99 per cent of the Oiler fans are just like me.

What the Oil don't need is another player like Yak who the coaching staff will turn into a lightning rod of controversy to draw the fan's and media's attention away from their own incompetence.

Yes, I'm directing that at you Eakins.

Comparing Draisatl to Jumbo Joe Thornton or Anze Kopitar as some pundits have done, is unreasonable and inflating the fan's expectations. IMO it sets up another Yak scenario in Edmonton and I don't think anyone needs that.

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#41 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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#42 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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#44 Danger Pay
May 09 2014, 01:29PM
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ColourMeImpressed wrote:

I did my absolute best to provide constructive feedback without dumping on you like some people seem to.

Your reply does give me an idea why people skip the constructive feedback. I'm not "bitching".

As a former freelance writer and editor in chief of a major gaming website myself, I understand there are deadlines, that you can't always get someone you'd like to talk to on the phone for a quote. I'm sure some people here imagine they'll ring up the Raiders HQ, get the coach on the line for a tidbit, or maybe talk to the staff on the Oil Kings and see what they had to think about Draisaitl's consistency, but I realize that's unrealistic. Teams aren't going to rudely comment on a player from another squad, and the coaching staff on the Raiders probably has better things to do than answer the same question, especially when they too aren't going to criticize their own guy - doubly so when he might come back to play for them.

That said, you can back up your opinion a bit better. Ask yourself, what differentiates this blog post from any of a dozen comments on HFBoards right now? You found some quotes and you shared your opinion on them. 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, that would have been standard and acceptable. These days, opinion is cheap, so you need to spice it up a little. Bring up an uncommon fact, or maybe see if you can get Pronman on the line to elaborate on his comments - something.

Go back to your gaming website, TROLL

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#45 Oilfan69
May 09 2014, 02:02PM
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while I don't normally browse the other nation sites much there is an interesting article up on flames nation about drafting/drafting records that is worth a read if anyone is bored.

http://flamesnation.ca/2014/5/9/drafting-for-success

(it is also applicable to the Oilers)

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#46 george99
May 09 2014, 02:05PM
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Mr.ColourMeImpressed,

I cannot read the mind of Mr. Brownlee; and to your credit you have the right to express your opinion all you want. But - to be as impartial as I can - your replies come off as dogmatic and slightly pompous. Why you need to mention you were a former editor on a website is beyond me? Who cares...I have a B.A. in English but it's not something I tell anyone first, second, or often at all; as it bears no relevance to the topic of conversation. I think your opinion matters as much as all others on this site; but I would simply tone down your at times condescending attitude and give Mr.Brownlee - a mighty fine writer by the way - a wee bit more respect than you have offered. I certainly do not agree with everything the man writes, but he is always an interesting read, and often explores topics that others are not willing to go to. Appreciate your time CMI. Cheers.

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#48 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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#49 #TheNugeIsHuge
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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#50 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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