AT RANDOM: MIDDLEMEN

Robin Brownlee
July 03 2014 01:47PM

I don't see the debate about how the Edmonton Oilers should fill the holes they have on their roster at centre in terms of black and white when it comes to how or if Leon Draisaitl fits into the equation next season. I find myself pulled between preference and practicality.

Call it sitting on the fence if you like, but as we sit here during the first week of July, I don't think there's a hard and fast answer as to whether Draisaitl should be in the mix when the puck drops on 2014-15. I weighed in on the issue in my last item here.

In terms of preference, there's a reasonable case to be made Draisaitl should be returned to Prince Albert of the WHL next season, no matter what. Don't rush the kid. Don't burn a year of his entry level contract. Jason Strudwick of TSN 1260, for example, made the case on his show and on Twitter Wednesday. David Staples of The Cult of Hockey says the same.

I get where they're coming from. I just can't embrace the "no matter what" part of the argument on a day that Draisaitl took his first twirl on the ice as a member of the Oilers at a development camp in Jasper. I'm in the wait-and-see camp.

LET IT PLAY OUT

93-RNH-9

I can't sit here today and tell you with a straight face Draisaitl is ready to play in the NHL next season. Likewise, I can't say for certain he won't be ready when the puck drops. I don't know. Do you?

I don't think Draisaitl should be handed a roster spot because he's a third overall pick. I don't care about the optics. I don't think he should make the team by default because after first-liner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and utility man Boyd Gordon, the Oilers are woefully thin down the middle.

As I wrote June 28, even if Draisaitl gives strong indications he's not in over his head, I don't want to see him force-fed into a second-line role. At the very least, GM Craig MacTavish has to find a proven NHL centre – easier said than done – who can provide a buffer and split the ice that's up for grabs time between RNH and Gordon.

Whether Draisaitl sticks in Edmonton or is returned to Prince Albert, the bottom line for me is that the Oilers will be making a mistake if they don't at least let him compete for a job before making a decision based on merit. Let this play out.

WHILE I'M AT IT

Berglund

  • Jonathan Willis took a thorough look at centre Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues as a possible target for the Oilers recently and I concur with his take. I like Berglund and I think he slots in behind RNH as a second/third-line option. The question, as always, is the ask.
  • I got plenty of reaction on Twitter Wednesday when I said I'd be willing to trade anybody not named Taylor Hall, RNH, Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Ben Scrivens, or Justin Schultz for Berglund. A lot of it was along the lines of "You'd trade Nail Yakupov?" Yes, yes I would. I recognize there's an element of risk, but I'm not as sold on Yakupov as many fans are. Not exactly trading him for a bag of pucks here.
  • A lot of people think Mark Fayne might be a pleasant surprise as an addition to Edmonton's blue line. Numbers like him, too. Haven't seen him enough to have a feel for him. As a low-cost depth player, I like the addition of Keith Aulie.

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 Harlie
July 03 2014, 07:14PM
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Dockstaff wrote:

HELL NO! Start watching Sports Centre!

Listen to any of the experts, MacKenzie, Dreger, Ron McLean... Lecavalier is not a leader. They gave him the C in TBay and it turned out to be a disaster. He is reported to be the first off the ice at practice and often skips optional skates. He won't teach anything but bad habits and why someone else can back check.

So he acts like Hemsky, plays Center and can beat up or hold his own with Iginla.

Yeah, Sportscenter is right, we don't want him.

I remember when Calgary traded Bourque and I wanted him, then he stood out on the playoffs after everyone wrote him off. Don't be too quick to judge..

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#102 Sorensenator
July 03 2014, 07:38PM
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Whitey31 wrote:

Absolutely agree when you are talkin about a #1D which is a big difference form Berglund (from your original post).

Berglund is someone you could get right now for Yakupov straight up, easily, and maybe with a prospect or draft pick thrown in. We all know Yakupov will turn into a better player then he was last year. Even his first season is an example of what he is capable is. It's all frustrating.

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#103 Zarny
July 03 2014, 07:46PM
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Berglund isn't enough for Yak imo.

Draisaitl has only played in NA for 2 years. Unless he comes into camp and looks better than Nuge I send him back to Jr.

He has a lot to learn. He's only been a dominant player for one year. In Jr he'll have the ability to try new things and develop his game in ways he wouldn't be allowed to in the NHL.

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#104 Casey
July 03 2014, 07:47PM
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As I said before,invite Peter Mueller to our camp. No risk in that. If he dosen't work out than he dosen't work out and we can just let him walk. If he does work out than we can sign him to a 1-year deal.Let Draisatl get his 9 games than go back to junior,if PA gets knocked out of the playoffs early than let him play some games in OKC. Do the same with Nurse.

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#105 Pucker
July 03 2014, 07:57PM
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Too early to give up on Yak. I agree with an earlier poster. I think Robin is trolling.

We certainly need a centre but Berglund isn't going to get us into the playoffs. Sign Legwand or find a stop-gap centre.

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#106 Hoss
July 03 2014, 08:24PM
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Trading Yakupov for a third line center, even a very good one would be a complete panic move. He had a rough year obviously but it is way too early to throw him away. Yikes

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#107 Smokey
July 03 2014, 08:57PM
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Sorensenator wrote:

Berglund is someone you could get right now for Yakupov straight up, easily, and maybe with a prospect or draft pick thrown in. We all know Yakupov will turn into a better player then he was last year. Even his first season is an example of what he is capable is. It's all frustrating.

Theres a mental bealth clinic downtown Edmonton you should check yourself into.

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#108 Randaman
July 03 2014, 09:14PM
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Can we please get off the sign Legwand idea!! If MacT is half ass smart ( I believe this to be the case), then Legwand has been contacted already. He waived his NTC to go to Detroit because he is from there. He knew there was no chance for a cup last year. He will want minimum 4 years term which can't happen so please get over it and let's move on.

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#109 KozyMel
July 03 2014, 09:26PM
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@BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

It`s not "if" RNH gets hurt, it's when.

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#110 ?
July 03 2014, 09:28PM
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@Harlie

"I remember when Calgary traded Bourque and I wanted him, then he stood out on the playoffs after everyone wrote him off. Don't be too quick to judge.."

Bourque had some disappearing acts in the 2014 playoffs. He dominated Tampa, then disappeared against Boston. Everyone wrote him off because he was bad in CGY just before they traded him, and he's been dreadful in Montreal.

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#111 ?
July 03 2014, 09:30PM
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Sorensenator wrote:

Berglund is someone you could get right now for Yakupov straight up, easily, and maybe with a prospect or draft pick thrown in. We all know Yakupov will turn into a better player then he was last year. Even his first season is an example of what he is capable is. It's all frustrating.

Agreed. Yakupov is worth a lot more than just Berglund. If it was Berglund and Schwartz, then perhaps. Or swap Schwartz for Rattie

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#112 Woogie63
July 03 2014, 09:45PM
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Why didn't we just trade a 5th pick for Purcell and keep Gagner to help Drisaital grow into 2c?

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#113 Reg Dunlop
July 03 2014, 09:49PM
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I guess it's human nature to overvalue assets that you have some attachment to, like Yak. The lesson learned as to the actual value of Gagner must be applied here. Last season, Yak was the worst player in the league and his comments and actions are sure to cause dressing room discord. Holding on to him, waiting for his value to skyrocket when he hits 40 goals is a possibility but not very likely. He still has some cache in some circles, the best bet is to deal him there before we have to tie $100 to him to get any bites, like Gagner.

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#114 The Last Big Bear
July 03 2014, 09:54PM
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Everyone who is calmly talking about whether or not Arcobello should be a 2nd line centre in the western conference...

You are on drugs. BAD drugs.

I'm just going to go ahead and list the 2nd line centres in the western conference today, and you tell me when you see guys who are clearly behind Arcobello. This shoud be illuminating:

Mike Richards

Joe Pavelski

Brad Richards

Ryan Kesler

Tyler Seguin

Sean Monahan

David Backes

Matt Duchene

Ryan Johansen

Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner

Nick Bonino

Whoever the heck Winnipeg is dressing,

I'll cut to the chase. RNH has to wake up early and eat his Wheaties to stay in the top half of that list. He has upside, but that's where he is now.

Show me a team that dresses Mark Arcobello as 2C, and I'll show you the team that finishes last in the conference. And some of you may still think that's a viable strategy, but 8 years of sucking hard and drafting high has resulted in a situation where Mark Arcobello is the 2nd best centre on the team.

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#115 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 03 2014, 09:58PM
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I wouldn't even give up Yak for Couturier, and he's a considerable upgrade over another Boyd Gordon clone in Berglund.

I think we're getting way ahead of ourselves worrying about a measly year on an entry level contract. Who in their right mind is more concerned about 3 years from now than they are about the impact of the coming season. Half these kids will probably take a cut in pay when they become UFA eligible. Not all these kids will be superstars to begin with. Some will be fortunate to become support players.

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#116 Dwayne Roloson 35
July 03 2014, 09:59PM
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Zarny wrote:

Berglund isn't enough for Yak imo.

Draisaitl has only played in NA for 2 years. Unless he comes into camp and looks better than Nuge I send him back to Jr.

He has a lot to learn. He's only been a dominant player for one year. In Jr he'll have the ability to try new things and develop his game in ways he wouldn't be allowed to in the NHL.

he was the highest point producer this draft. he doesnt have to be better than the nuge to make the team.if hes good enough on the 3rd line then we should keep him and give him sheltered minutes like what colorado did with mackinnon this year. we do have some solid wingers now who can form a real line instead of yakupov and 2 plugs.

we can at least give him 9 games to show what hes got and then send him to junior if he does bad.

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#117 Dwayne Roloson 35
July 03 2014, 10:08PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Everyone who is calmly talking about whether or not Arcobello should be a 2nd line centre in the western conference...

You are on drugs. BAD drugs.

I'm just going to go ahead and list the 2nd line centres in the western conference today, and you tell me when you see guys who are clearly behind Arcobello. This shoud be illuminating:

Mike Richards

Joe Pavelski

Brad Richards

Ryan Kesler

Tyler Seguin

Sean Monahan

David Backes

Matt Duchene

Ryan Johansen

Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner

Nick Bonino

Whoever the heck Winnipeg is dressing,

I'll cut to the chase. RNH has to wake up early and eat his Wheaties to stay in the top half of that list. He has upside, but that's where he is now.

Show me a team that dresses Mark Arcobello as 2C, and I'll show you the team that finishes last in the conference. And some of you may still think that's a viable strategy, but 8 years of sucking hard and drafting high has resulted in a situation where Mark Arcobello is the 2nd best centre on the team.

do you follow hockey? some of those guys are wingers and a lot of them are first line players. one who was a 4th liner last year.

Arcobello was solid on the faceoffs in the second line role winngng 51%. he had a corsi that was actually outshooting the opposition when he was on the ice unlike our entire team. he lead our team in hits before he left for the AHL where he dominated.

dont know why youre knocking the nuge when this is his first full offseason to train because of injuries.

nuge will be better and arco can be a stop gap C until Draisaitl emerges or we sign someone.

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#118 Zarny
July 03 2014, 10:33PM
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Dwayne Roloson 35 wrote:

he was the highest point producer this draft. he doesnt have to be better than the nuge to make the team.if hes good enough on the 3rd line then we should keep him and give him sheltered minutes like what colorado did with mackinnon this year. we do have some solid wingers now who can form a real line instead of yakupov and 2 plugs.

we can at least give him 9 games to show what hes got and then send him to junior if he does bad.

Unless Draisaitl looks really bad he should certainly get 9 games to get his feet wet; and then he should be sent back to Jr.

It's quite feasible that if the Oilers don't add another C Draisaitl will be the 2nd best C in camp. That doesn't mean the Oilers should keep him this year. That just shows you how bad the Oilers depth at C is right now.

I don't think it matters that Draisaitl was the highest point producer this draft. He's only done it for 1 year and he certainly didn't set any records. And as Oiler fans should know well by now the NHL game is as much about playing without the puck as playing with it.

In Jr. Draisaitl will get to play in all situations. He'll get 20+ min a night and he'll be relied on for leadership. I think most important though is he'll be one of the best players on the ice every night. That provides freedom to try new skills/techniques/strategies to grow his game. He won't get that opportunity playing sheltered 3rd line minutes in the NHL. The demand to win and not make mistakes is too great.

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#119 Harlie
July 03 2014, 11:28PM
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Damn, Bonnie Tyler was hot and had the best voice. She coulda been this generations Katie. Just being a sap and pullin out the oldest of schools tonight..

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nPOy7TPjfkE

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#120 Reinman
July 04 2014, 12:57AM
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Pucker wrote:

Too early to give up on Yak. I agree with an earlier poster. I think Robin is trolling.

We certainly need a centre but Berglund isn't going to get us into the playoffs. Sign Legwand or find a stop-gap centre.

Scary thing is that Yak thinks he is playing OK.

I would trade him before he loses his value.

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#121 seanjohn667
July 04 2014, 02:43AM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Everyone who is calmly talking about whether or not Arcobello should be a 2nd line centre in the western conference...

You are on drugs. BAD drugs.

I'm just going to go ahead and list the 2nd line centres in the western conference today, and you tell me when you see guys who are clearly behind Arcobello. This shoud be illuminating:

Mike Richards

Joe Pavelski

Brad Richards

Ryan Kesler

Tyler Seguin

Sean Monahan

David Backes

Matt Duchene

Ryan Johansen

Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner

Nick Bonino

Whoever the heck Winnipeg is dressing,

I'll cut to the chase. RNH has to wake up early and eat his Wheaties to stay in the top half of that list. He has upside, but that's where he is now.

Show me a team that dresses Mark Arcobello as 2C, and I'll show you the team that finishes last in the conference. And some of you may still think that's a viable strategy, but 8 years of sucking hard and drafting high has resulted in a situation where Mark Arcobello is the 2nd best centre on the team.

I can only see one that is behind Arco.

Sam Gagner.

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#123 Sorensenator
July 04 2014, 08:15AM
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Smokey wrote:

Theres a mental bealth clinic downtown Edmonton you should check yourself into.

I don't think your idiotic comment is warranted here considering I was speculating as to what you could get for Yakupov right now, doesn't mean that is what the Oilers should do.

Sometimes what we say about others is a reflection of our own personal deficiencies.

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#124 Chunkylover69@google.ca
July 04 2014, 11:51AM
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albertabeef wrote:

All I've read on here for the past 2 years is that Gagner/RNH duo was too small. Now you think a smaller guy will fit the bill??

Small guy, big defensive heart. I think Arco is less of a risk than some think and would be a bridge until the big German is ready. Giving away great assets to plug this hole scares me. Overpaying is one thing but giving up a possible 40 goal franchise player for a really good 3rd line center sounds a little desperate.

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#125 Chunkylover69@yahoo.com
July 04 2014, 01:21PM
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@albertabeef

Little guy but a defensive giant! I don't mind the odd overpay for players but a elite blue chip franchise prospect is worth more than a great 3rd line center. I think Arco is less of risk than most people think and won't hurt us right now if a GOOD deal can't be made. He can hold the fort til the German comes in. We probably won't win a cup with him as a 2nd center but we are still a long ways away from that kind of talk. Cant give the future away for band aids.

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#126 KozyMel
July 04 2014, 03:46PM
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Dwayne Roloson 35 wrote:

he was the highest point producer this draft. he doesnt have to be better than the nuge to make the team.if hes good enough on the 3rd line then we should keep him and give him sheltered minutes like what colorado did with mackinnon this year. we do have some solid wingers now who can form a real line instead of yakupov and 2 plugs.

we can at least give him 9 games to show what hes got and then send him to junior if he does bad.

Sheltered minutes like Colorado did with MacKinnon??

If the Oilers had an equivalent top six to what the Avlalance had, you possibly could, but if you look at how the two depth charts match up, there's no way the Oilers come close to being able to hide anyone on the third line.

The Oilers don't even have a second line yet;

Hall - RNH - Eberle Perron/Pouliot - ???? - Purcell Pouliot/Perron - Arcobello ?? - Yakupov Hendricks - Gordon - ????

There's no where to hide Draisaitl anywhere.

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