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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#2 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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#3 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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#4 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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#5 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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#6 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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#7 DrunkGuyTy
May 09 2014, 04:14PM
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@ColourMeImpressed

You should for your money back. I bet it took longer for you to type your critique than to read the article. Which is the bigger waste of time?

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#8 Lofty
May 09 2014, 04:45PM
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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.

Don't read it then. What else is there?

The fact that you take the time to complain about a post is ridiculous. Would you rather read a stagnant article with slow posts?

I appreciate peoples POV and enjoy Brownlees opinion. I dont agree with all/much of it or the way he replys to posts but its all entertainment. From the games to the draft, its all entertainment to pass time. Simmer down na.

You should check out www.coppernblue.com , its got some good content that provides a new article once a week with a terrible comment stream. You'll love it!

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#9 J.R.
May 09 2014, 04:51PM
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I don't understand you guys who are ragging on Brownlee's article.

Sure - RB might be a little quicker to set his guns on blast when criticised but why the criticism in the first place?

Our team is out of the playoffs. RB chose to write a quick opinion piece...thanks be to Brownlee otherwise I'd have jack to read during the offseason.

I think we forget how lucky we are to have the quality of contributors to this site that we have.

All the wanker/keyboard ninjas giving RB or Gregor or Lowetide or Willis grief need to give their head a shake. There is a website called HockeyBuzz where you to can be "the man" and write all your own crap - plus rub shoulders with the likes of such journalistic luminaries as Ecklund.

Don't read it if you don't like it - just like Brownlee said. I'm thankful to just have some Oilers ANYTHING to read.

Viva La Nation.

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#11 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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#13 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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#14 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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#15 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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#16 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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#17 Hall Awaits
May 09 2014, 03:19PM
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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.

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#18 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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#20 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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#21 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
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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#22 Spaceman Spiff
May 09 2014, 02:19PM
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Good column, Robin. I think that admitting you “don’t have a definitive answer” is probably something that a lot of us should be saying about all of the draft prospects, in any year, not just this one.

That’s because right now, it’s officially the silly season of the NHL Draft – when everyone’s got an opinion on the abilities of 17- and 18-year-old players they’ve never seen play ... or perhaps never even heard of until two months ago. And, trust me, it’ll only get worse in a few days when the annual issue of The Hockey News Draft Preview hits the newsstands.

Bennett? Reinhart? Ekblad? Draisatl? The truth is, the only people who are qualified to provide any intelligent insight on any of those four players are scouts with the teams and with NHL Central Scouting. As much as we fans would profess to know about these players, we really don’t know a darn thing.

Of those four, I only saw Draisatl play in person this year, versus the Oil Kings. Prince Albert came in and beat Edmonton and Draisatl looked OK … but I can’t really say he stood out all that much.

In fact, the player that stood out the most for me that night, on either team, was PA’s captain, defenceman Josh Morissey. A Winnipeg first-rounder in 2013, he looked to me like an outstanding skater and quarterback-style defenceman (albeit a bit on the small side). But that was only one game.

Other than Draisatl, I have no memory of watching any of the others. I didn’t watch any of the World Juniors at Christmas so I have no idea if any of the other three kids were on Team Canada.

Anyway, I guess my message is this: assuming Ekblad doesn’t fall to them, the Oilers are going to draft one of those centres and, on that day, it’ll be the right pick because their scouts will have made a convincing case for them. After that, it’s up to the player, obviously. They’re the ones who provide the “definitive answer.”

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

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#25 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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#26 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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#27 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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#28 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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#29 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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#30 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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#31 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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#32 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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#33 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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#34 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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#35 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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#36 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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#37 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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#38 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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#39 HockeyYodaDotcom
May 10 2014, 09:07AM
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Shaun wrote:

Draft Draisaitl

You must be a Flames fan.

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#40 Walter Sobchak
May 10 2014, 10:30AM
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The Nuuuuuuuuuuuuge 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 WeridAl
May 09 2014, 04:23PM
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Draisaitl is a highly skilled, with size, but fans will be disappointed if they hope he's that big tough C the Oilers desperately need to compete in the Western Conference. He plays that perimeter game, who had the benefit of having two big tough wingers that could battle in the corners and take the punishment in front of the net. The Oil Kings shut him down by shutting down his wingers, he had no one to pass to and he's not one to take punishment. He would rather rap his stick around your neck or spear you. He got away with it in the WHL, but he will not get away with it in the NHL. These wingers created room for him to play, he will not have that with the Oilers.

Nelson was a magician this year, and had the Barons believing in the system. IMO he is by far the better coach than Eakins. He has the respect of his players, can that be said about Eakins. I hope he stays with the Oilers, but I'm not sure that will happen.

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#44 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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#45 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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#47 The Nuuuuuuuuuuuuge
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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#48 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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#49 Geoff
May 09 2014, 01:13PM
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When it comes to drafting my personal thoughts are you take every single positive quality you can think of and try to find draftees with the highest collected amount of those qualities.

I don't really think you can go wrong with either Draisatl, Bennett, or Ekblad as our pick. Bennett/Drais are pretty much the same quality player in my books. So for me it's Ekblad and if not Drais > Bennett just because Drais just happens and will be bigger then Bennett in the long haul.

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#50 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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