THE WAY I SEE IT

Robin Brownlee
June 28 2014 04:23PM

Draisaitl

The good news is Leon Draisaitl brings the combination of size and skill the Edmonton Oilers have been lacking down the middle in their mix of top-six forwards for several seasons.

The bad news, unless GM Craig MacTavish gets something done on the free agent or trade front to acquire a pivot with the stature and skill to bring the same dimensions Draisaitl does, is the big German from the Prince Albert Raiders might be pressed into that role when the 2014-15 season begins.

I'm not saying Draisaitl doesn't have the ability to step into the line-up the season after his draft day, the way Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov have, because we don't know that yet. But if MacTavish can't find another centre, the options are limited.

While Draisaitl looks like he'll complement Nugent-Hopkins as a second-line centre, providing the size and skill Sam Gagner can't, I'd rather see how that unfolds after another WHL season or, at the very least, with him starting next season here playing more protected minutes as a third-line centre.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

Options

Preaching patience in the wake of the Entry Draft is a common refrain in every NHL city. Don't rush the kids. Let them develop. It makes all the sense in the world. Putting it into practice is much more difficult, especially with a forward mix that shapes up the way the Oilers does. 

If Gagner is moved to the wing after his epic struggles of last season, and I suspect Jason Gregor is right when he says he expects that to happen, then there's two open spots behind RNH -- assuming Boyd Gordon is bumped down to fourth-line duty with added minutes on special teams.

I thought MacTavish would get something done to fill at least one of those holes leading into the draft or in Philadelphia – wrong again. Unless that changes in coming weeks, and MacTavish has given every indication he will be aggressive trying to make that happen, the likelihood is we'll see Draisaitl next season, ready or not.

I'm all for Draisaitl being given the chance to compete for a roster spot, and if he earns it on merit, that's fine by me. If he gets it because there's no other real options in the middle and he's force-fed into the No. 2 centre spot, not so much. Draisaitl has looked like a fit to me for several weeks, he was the obvious pick in my books, but now the player development phase kicks in.

That means surrounding yet another blue chip prospect with the right veteran support, and we know the Oilers have been less than stellar in the regard far too often in recent seasons. The results we know. They need to get it right this time.

WHILE I'M AT IT . . .  

whats-next

. . . I thought MacTavish might have a trading partner in Philadelphia, which will be up against the cap even when Chris Pronger comes off the books, because MacT and Paul Holmgren spoke at length last summer, but didn’t see much happening with new GM Ron Hextall. What about now?

. . . MacTavish has plenty of salary cap space even after the $9-million deal he handed Nikita Nikitin, so he's got the luxury of overpaying in a UFA market that always commands top dollar. I hope MacTavish finds a way to spend some of it on Brian Boyle, who'll test the UFA waters at the end of a three-year, $5.1 million contact with the New York Rangers. He's a fit here.

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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#101 Darrell
June 29 2014, 05:58AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You're using really old material with the bold moves line.

What MacTavish did say in recent weeks is he sees the need to add 4-5 players. Most fans would agree. Nothing about bold, but rather identifying some obvious needs.

The signing of Nikitin going into the draft was a move, albeit an overpay. Not getting something done over two days during the actual draft hardly falls into the all-talk-no-action slot you're implying.

Guys, I would rather have no trades then get fleeced anyday and am sure thats why MàcT has not made any more moves.

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#102 Kevin Blow
June 29 2014, 06:18AM
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@Fresh Mess

give up next to nothing to get him here.........................trade Musil, Simpson or whoever else has ties to the organization through relatives.

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#103 wintoon
June 29 2014, 06:19AM
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Many posters insist that Draisaitl be sent back to junior to develop. Personally, I think the Habs approach with Galchenyuk was very effective.

They played Galchenyuk on the wing in a 3rd and 4th line role. This gave him time to adapt to the faster NHL pace but it also gave him a chance begin bonding with his team mates.

I think this approach could work well for the Oilers provided they acquire a player that can play #2C, because we know that Gagner is not the answer at centre or on the wing.

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#104 Grant
June 29 2014, 07:42AM
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Young Oil wrote:

The thing I am most excited to see about Draisaitl is to see him playing with quality forwards who can see the game as well as he does. He didn't have much help playing with Prince Albert. He also played better at the WC (especially against the USA) when he had better linemates.

Quality linemates will only make him get better. He could also really improve Yak as well I think.

I agree, sending him back to junior would be ideal, but an argument could also be made that playing him with quality linemates and sheltered minutes could also be good for his development. But make sure he earns the spot.

It's up to MacT to get him some competition so he is forced to earn it.

If a guy truly is ready for the NHL there is no need to send him back to junior.Hoewever, I don't think he should be playing tough minutes . Get a top guy via free agency, like David Legwand. We have enough money here and we might as well spend it on a big centre to play in the number 2 spot. Michalek. Draisaitl. Gagner. For the third line or Hendricks on the left side for some toughness.

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#105 Grant
June 29 2014, 07:48AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Draisaitl should be sent to Jr to develop, him and Nurse should join the team following this season.

If Draisailt is in Jr, what happens if Hopkins gets hurt?

Scary to think about, but in that case are Hall and Eberle playing with Arc?

Worse is Gordan playing with Yak?

MacT should plan for the worst case scenario....

This means sign Grabovski- we need the depth up the middle.

We don't need our second line centre to be Grabovski, who only got 35 points last year. 35 points for number 2 c is not enough, and for those who want Ribeiro, he only weighs 177 lbs.

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#106 Grant
June 29 2014, 07:55AM
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Virtual_Xi wrote:

boyo's, it's time to rejoice! for once we didn't pick a small body, did anyone see the size of draisatl's shoulders! he's a great asset. Mac is done very well in his first full year. We shall see what free agency and summer trades will do for the oil.

Did not expect a bunch of trades on draft day but I do think Mact will be hard charging on free agency day to address needs.Another big centre and a winger and another dman or 2. He has made some nice moves so far, and I think he is a smart hockey man. So let's see what he does with UFA's

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#107 Grant
June 29 2014, 08:07AM
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NJ wrote:

No no no. Seriously? LD here to play soft 3rd or 4th line minutes? When he could go play 20+ a night in junior? The impact of "pro practice" on a junior player is minimal. It's game time that they require and LD (or Yakupov or insert any other rushed player here) could use more of it.

Confidence to fragile kids is a big deal. Destroying it by bringing the kid in too early is a piss poor idea.

Go ahead and sign the free agents to whatever it costs. They're filling gaps and hopefully providing veteran expertise and leadership. I don't even mind if Nurse and LD spend he first 9 games up with the big club, but it's rare that sending a kid back to Junior has hurt his development. Too bad I can't say the same for bringing a kid up to the bigs early.

I hate the word patience. But in 3 years, you'll have Hall, Eberle, Nuge and Yak all in their prime. LD will be ready to for sure play 2nd line. Perron hopefully is here and Gagner is gone. You'll have cap room for resigning guys, based on the cap going up and that our core is signed CHEAP. In 3 years, we should be really contending. Not this season. I doubt we challenge for a playoff spot though I'd take a season where we won half our games. Maybe the year after we can think about playoffs... And somewhere in there hopefully we find a stud defensemen in all this mess.

Bottom line!? Why be in a hurry for LD to be here. It makes no positive impact on the team... Arcobello at this point is a better NHL center than LD. Painful? Sure. But we are in this for the long run... Not to attempt a flamesk run at the playoffs only to fall short.

If Draisaitl is ready then let him play. It's that simple if he is not ready to fill the number 2 centre spot,either surround him with good strong guys to play with on the 3rd line .or send him back to junior.

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#108 blue31
June 29 2014, 08:17AM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

It's a shame people think the only options are no moves or stupid moves...

It's also a shame that some people think "bold moves" means "good moves."

A "bold move" is high-risk, high-reward. We don't really need that at this point.

All those here demanding "bold moves" don't really understand hockey. They just selfishly want to be entertained with a shiny new toy.

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#109 2004Z06
June 29 2014, 08:50AM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

Are you talking about the same guy who got fired 3 or 4 season ago for coaching this team into the ground and haven't seen the light day since?

Mac T was never fired! Get your facts straight. After several years getting blood form a stone with a roster seriously constrained by a lack of spending by the EIG group he resigned. People forget that the Oilers were a cap floor team for every year under the EIG.

Over 8 seasons as the Oilers head coach he carries a .537 record.

That's incredible for what he had to work with.

Give your head a shake man!

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#110 Grant
June 29 2014, 09:02AM
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Mact was a great coach with what he had to work with! Until a bunch of Veterans thought they could do what they wanted on ice ie: Sheldon Soursy until he got banished!!

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#111 Grant
June 29 2014, 09:02AM
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Mact was a great coach with what he had to work with! Until a bunch of Veterans thought they could do what they wanted on ice ie: Sheldon Soursy until he got banished!!

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#112 Peter
June 29 2014, 09:10AM
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How come no one is talking about Steve Ott. He could be a great fit for the Oilers at centre

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#113 Grant
June 29 2014, 09:16AM
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Peter wrote:

How come no one is talking about Steve Ott. He could be a great fit for the Oilers at centre

I like Steve Ott but would you play him in the number 2 spot or if he plays third line where do you play Draisaitl? He didn't get many points last year but he brings toughness and grit.

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#114 Grant
June 29 2014, 10:01AM
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Just read that Christain Ehrhoff has just been bought out. If Edmonton could sign him that would be a big defensive signing for Edmonton and maybe that would be enough for their defense right now. Ehrhoff Nikitin Petry Schultz Marincin Ference In no particular order.

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#115 oilerbuff
June 29 2014, 11:02AM
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Brian Boyle is definitely the.Centre I would.like to see in.oilers silks for 3rd line.

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#116 Rama Lama
June 29 2014, 11:37AM
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Here, here, I'm all for getting a giant like Brian Boyle but moving Sam to the wings on a shut down line, makes little sense.

Firstly he is small, slow, and has never played a defensive game in his life. Just how moving him to the third line will equal success is confounding at best. The only option we have is trading him to a team that needs a little offence.........the only hope we have is getting a second rounder for him.

I say Mac T stop holding out hope that he will develop into something and trade him now for what ever you can get. We can fill his skill set by using the UFA market more effectively than we have done before.

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#117 Casey
June 29 2014, 12:33PM
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Draisatl is a very underrated pick. He has great size to protect the puck BUT is a very good producer. He scored the same amount of points as Sam Rienhart but Rienhart had a better team. Colin Valcourt(28-44-72 in 71 games) was Draisatl's best winger.Rienhart's best winger was Jaedon Deschanou (44-54-98 in 70 games). Forget that "dissapointing World juniors performance" crap, look who he had to play with. He has better players now. He will be clearly NHL-ready after a year in Juniors

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#118 Wax Man Riley
June 29 2014, 01:01PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Yeah, it was a run on sentence for sure.My apologies also.

How bout those Esks.Trick plays and all.Nice to see a team improve through coaching.

Wait, wait, wait, wait....

you said a team can improve? through coaching? I've been an Oilers fan for a long time and I've seen no evidence of this!

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#119 Cold Hard Truth
June 29 2014, 01:15PM
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blue31 wrote:

It's also a shame that some people think "bold moves" means "good moves."

A "bold move" is high-risk, high-reward. We don't really need that at this point.

All those here demanding "bold moves" don't really understand hockey. They just selfishly want to be entertained with a shiny new toy.

Yes, the Oilers do need that at this point.

You can't just keep sitting in the basement and accumulating picks. Waiting on Nurse, Kelfbom, Marincin to carry the team is ludicrous. The Oilers need to get Hall and Eberle players to play with before they near the end of their contracts, or worse, before they ask to be traded.

Frankly, I'd consider anything better than signing Nikitin a "bold move".

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#120 Rickithebear
June 29 2014, 01:39PM
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Boghdan Yakimov 6'4.75" 222lb .36 PPG at 9:50 even in KHL NHLE is 15 EVG 11 EVA 59% FO KHL his 19 years season would likely be 18EVG 13 EVA I look forward to that size in camp.

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#121 Rickithebear
June 29 2014, 01:46PM
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RB:

Hall and Yak best Offensive production and Goal differential was with Horcoff and Belanger. Good FO and linear holding centres.

B. Boyles 53% FO would be wonderful between them!

Or

as a wing option for RNH 41.7% FO

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#122 Grant
June 29 2014, 03:04PM
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Rickithebear wrote:

RB:

Hall and Yak best Offensive production and Goal differential was with Horcoff and Belanger. Good FO and linear holding centres.

B. Boyles 53% FO would be wonderful between them!

Or

as a wing option for RNH 41.7% FO

Boyle on the first line. ? Hahahaha that would be disappointing.

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#123 Grant
June 29 2014, 04:26PM
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Grant wrote:

Just read that Christain Ehrhoff has just been bought out. If Edmonton could sign him that would be a big defensive signing for Edmonton and maybe that would be enough for their defense right now. Ehrhoff Nikitin Petry Schultz Marincin Ference In no particular order.

Ehrhoff being German might be a huge acquisition for Edmonton as he could also take the younger German, Draisaitl , under his wing and help him get accustomed to the NHL.

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#124 Robin Brownlee
June 29 2014, 04:47PM
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Rickithebear wrote:

Boghdan Yakimov 6'4.75" 222lb .36 PPG at 9:50 even in KHL NHLE is 15 EVG 11 EVA 59% FO KHL his 19 years season would likely be 18EVG 13 EVA I look forward to that size in camp.

I like Yakimov's size as well, but even allowing for his age, 12 points in 33 games doesn't grab my attention. Neither did his two points in seven games at the 2014 World Junior Championship, although you can't put too much into one tournament.

Patrick Thoresen has averaged better than a point per game over the past five KHL seasons, albeit in his mid-20s to age 30, and he wasn't close to be an offensive force in the NHL. Lots of other examples of players like that and lots of variance in the accuracy of NHLE.

Lets see the actual numbers he puts up over here before we decide if he's a player or Alexei Mikhnov.

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#125 KozyMel
June 30 2014, 07:19PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You're using really old material with the bold moves line.

What MacTavish did say in recent weeks is he sees the need to add 4-5 players. Most fans would agree. Nothing about bold, but rather identifying some obvious needs.

The signing of Nikitin going into the draft was a move, albeit an overpay. Not getting something done over two days during the actual draft hardly falls into the all-talk-no-action slot you're implying.

Robin,

The "Bold Moves' may be considered old by some, but the first thing I saw on SportsNet this morning was a MacT clip; "I'm not a patient man ... we need to do something bold .."

So it appears I'm not the only one holding him accountable for what he says.

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