Leon Draisaitl willing to do whatever it takes, including play the wing

Thomas Drance
September 13 2015 04:05PM

Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has stood out at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton this weekend. Though the pace of the game, even at this level, can occasionally leave him looking a step behind, there's no arguing with Draisaitl's consistent production, his size, or his high-end ability to protect and dish the puck. 

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McDavid's former Erie Otters teammates discuss facing off against him at Young Stars

Thomas Drance
September 11 2015 05:00PM


Connor McDavid will don an Edmonton Oilers jersey in a professional-type game for the first time ever on Friday night when he suits up at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C..

When the puck drops McDavid will be facing a group of Canucks prospects that happens to feature several of his former Erie Otters teammates, including former line-mate Dane Fox, Brendan Gaunce and Kyle Pettit. We caught up with McDavid's former teammates following a pregame skate on Friday, to discuss what they anticipate from the McDavid experience on Friday night.

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Chris Johnston on McDavid: 'He's a special player who should be held to special standards'

Thomas Drance
September 10 2015 08:22AM

Photo Credit: Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY Sports

From dampened tracksuits to potentially disastrous predatory offer sheets that failed to account for a pretty important CBA article, Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston has broken all kinds of colourful, interesting, and controversial stories in his career. 

This month Johnston has got a new sort of challenge though: tour the country and host four live hockey-talk shows in four different cities in four nights. It's called Puck Talks Live and it's coming to Edmonton! The event will take place at your favourite watering hole (the Pint on Whyte Ave., duh) on Thursday, Sept. 17 and you can buy tickets here. Jason Gregor will be there. Struds will too. Wanye won't be (or at least, not officially). 

Anyway we caught up with Chris to talk about the coming of Connor McDavid, and the Puck Talks Live event.

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Thomas Drance's NHL Awards Ballot

Thomas Drance
June 24 2015 08:00PM

Photo Credit: Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

This was my first hockey season as a member of the PHWA, and I had the mixed blessing of casting an NHL Awards ballot. It was an honour, but it was also a heavy burden.

After years of slamming NHL awards voters for this, that and the other thing, actually having a ballot this season changed my perspective. I agonized for weeks over my selections, researched deserving candidates for each award heavily, re-streamed game video, and talked to a variety of industry people whom I trust before allowing my vote to be tallied. 

Some of these decisions were decided by a wafer thin margin. I'd wake up one day thinking that Erik Karlsson was my pick for the Norris, and I'd go to sleep that night thinking that 'really, P.K. Subban was the most valuable two-way defender in hockey this season.' Then I cast my first place Norris vote for neither player.

Anyway, in the interest of transparency and because these sorts of hockey conversations are pertinent and fun, I'd like to present my 2014-15 NHL Awards ballot for your scrutiny, consideration and entertainment. 

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Top-10 UFA Countdown: #5 Paul Martin

Thomas Drance
June 18 2015 11:00AM

Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

This is a series counting down the top-10 pending UFAs. It will be posted across the Nation Network over the next month! Enjoy!

Paul Martin, 34, is getting a bit long in the tooth, but he remains a sturdy defensive defender with the ability to transition the puck and win the territorial matchup against top-of-the-roster competition. If you're sensing that the theme of our unrestricted free agent countdown is "he's useful, but kind of old!" then you're catching on.

The American-born Martin will be among the best blue liners available on July 1, and has the ability to significant improve the complexion of a club in need of an upgrade on the back end in the short-term. He's 34 though, and we might reasonably expect him to begin to incur diminishing returns going forward (and there's reason to believe he might already be on the down swing).

Read on past the jump for more.

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