LEON

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The Edmonton Oilers may have a decision to make after all at this year’s entry draft. Aaron Ekblad may still be their choice, but a big German center who plays for Prince Albert is going to make the decision difficult.

matty twitter

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Earlier in the month, Jim Matheson posted this on twitter, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since. Matheson is a connected newspaper guy and those connections run deep. So, let’s assume that the tweet comes from somewhere credible and there’s a chance Edmonton takes Draisaitl in front of Reinhart.

Is there a reason we can find? Why would Reinhart be behind the other two prospects, or Sam Bennett for that matter?

SCORING BY DISCIPLINE: EVENS

top 3f at evens

We’ll take a look at Ekblad (and compare him to last year’s blue) in an upcoming post. For now, let’s have a look at the three center’s at the top of this year’s draft. This is very close, and each of these players posted strong seasons in the season leading up to their draft. 

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SIZE

The Oilers (according to Matty) value Draisaitl more than Reinhart and Bennett. From the scouting reports, we know the following about these players:

  • Reinhart is 6.01, 183 according to the WHL website
  • Bennett is 6.0, 181 according to the OHL website.
  • Draisaitl is 6.01, 209 according to the WHL website.

So, if we’re looking for things that make Draisaitl stand out the extra 25 pounds stands out. Fair?

SCORING BY DISCIPLINE: POWER PLAY

TOP 3F ON PP

With the man advantage, Reinhart and Draisaitl appear to be very close. The two teams are similar offensively, so without knowing time on ice I’d have to assume the two men are equal offensive talents. Bennett doesn’t have the kind of boxcars Reinhart and Draisaitl do, but opportunity may have a lot to do with it.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

good grief

The smart money is on Edmonton taking Aaron Ekblad. With the emergence of Leon Draisaitl as a viable option, I think there’s a chance the Oilers choose the big center instead. MacT would have to get a veteran center to bridge the time between Leon’s draft and NHL debut, but ‘building up the middle’ can be satisfied by selecting the Deutschland Dangler.

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  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    the Oilers are really in a good position here. likely to draft in the top 3, if they don’t trade the pick, having Draisaitl, Reinhart or Ekblad there for the taking is a real gift, after the Sabres likely pick *fist* overall. personally, for the Oilers needs, i’d rank them 1.Ekblad, 2.Draisaitl, 3.Reinhart.

  • Big Cap

    firstly, the Professional is a fantastic movie. like really good.

    second, can you not write a similar focused post next year on draft picks, please. much appreciated. i’d rather not know anything about the top 3.

    IF they keep the pick, Ekblad.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Still think they should it trade with a player for some NHL talent to fill the holes on the team. Drafting another young kid makings me think we will have another season like this next year.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Lowtide, is this article a denegation of last nights game.?

    This team as bigger problem than Eckald vs ……..

    Forgive me if you wrote this before the
    Gong Show that happened at Rexall last night.

  • Big Cap

    They should have pulled a trigger on a deal for Johansen at the 2010 draft as was rumored, or in his first couple of seasons when he was struggling. Having a 1-2 combo of Johansen-Nuge is something they could properly build along.

  • CMG30

    Draisaitl, Reinheart, Ekblad… I don’t think that there’s a wrong move here for the Oilers. Anyway you slice it, the Oilers get something they need. With the Oilers not picking first this year, it takes the pressure of making the ‘right’ pick away.

  • Leon.

    The good….Lots of skill, big and strong. Protects the puck very well. Phenomenal passer who sees the ice beautifully. Pro style coaching in this year of junior.

    The bad.. plays soft, not a great skater, has a variant quality in his back checking and defensive disciplines. He improved this year under Clouston but has miles to go.

    Button says he is NHL ready and to be fair… this is the Oilers i.e.. the easiest team in the NHL to make… but I don’t see it. Then again.. in the context of the Oilers…. maybe.

    • TKB2677

      I don’t agree with the “soft” term. Just because you don’t try to put every guy thru the boards and beat the crap out of people doesn’t make you soft.
      Here’s a list of some of the top centers in the game today.
      Crosby
      Getzlaf
      Giroux
      Backstrom
      Malkin
      Thornton
      Toews
      Tavares
      Kopitar
      Spezza
      E. Staal
      J. Staal
      Bergeron
      Datsuyk.
      Sedin

      Those are just some of the centers I could think of. I look at that list and there isn’t 1 guy on that list that will fight anyone on a regular basis, is known for being mean and nasty or even hits a lot. Everyone one of those guys I would take in a heart beat. Most of those guys have good compete, use their bodies to their advantage and are tough to get off the puck. Does that make them soft?

      I heard an interview with Draisaitl and he compared himself to Thornton. Thornton has never been known for being a big, nasty center even though he’s huge. But he uses his size to his advantage. He leans on people, is hard to get off the puck and is a pretty damn good center.

      Would you turn down Joe Thornton because he’s “soft”?

      The problem with the Oilers at the center position is they have NO ONE to match up with the big centers size wise. They need someone to play the “heavy minutes”. I love Nuge and his skill but when you put him up against the Thornton’s Getzlaf, Kopitar in the west game after game, when you are giving up 20-30 lbs you aren’t going to win all the battles. Skill wise or hockey sense wise he maybe is a little better than those guys but that only wins you 2 maybe 3 battles out of 10 because you out smart them. The other 7 times, the big guys just lean on Nuge when he gets close.

      • TayLordBalls

        Did you happen to see the Canucks/Ducks game Saturday when Getslaf went after Don Cherry’s golden boy Kevin Bieksa? Of course Bieksa picks his fights and declined then Burrows came in with his visor and previously broken jaw and got his ass handed to him.Getslaf is someone the opposing teams don’t want to wake up.

        • TKB2677

          Great that’s 1 guy out of the 15 I listed off the top of my head that once in a while can get nasty. How often does he do it? Rarely. He’s 6’4, 221lbs and he has 94 hits in 70 games. So that’s barely just over 1 hit per game. Nuge has 66 hits and he’s tiny. What’s Getzlaf’s excuse?

          • Spydyr

            Relax,I wasn’t disagreeing with you, just making the comment about what can happen once in a while, this used to happen with Joe Thorton when he was younger as well.

          • TKB2677

            Exactly. You don’t have to be skilled goon to be considered “not soft”. Just be a guy that has some size that uses it to his advantage and doesn’t get pushed around. I watched Drasailt play vs the Red Deer Rebels. Yes he didn’t run around the ice like a wrecking ball, demolishing every guy he could see but he was strong on the puck and used his huge body to shield guys off the puck. Once he got the puck, the only way they got it away from him was doubling him up or when he passed or shot it. If he was 1-1, good luck in getting it off his stick. Granted he was playing against juniors but in 2 years when he is in his early 20’s and is 225lbs or bigger and has come man strength, it will be the same in the NHL. One thing you can’t teach a player is size and the Oilers have zero size upfront.

            IN looking at the Oilers, it looks like they have defense coming (Nurse, Marincin, Klefbomb). They have NO big, skilled centers coming either in the minors or who they have drafted.

          • TKB2677

            You’re exactly right. 6’4, 221lbs and strong so he is big enough and strong enough that it is difficult to get the puck away from him. But my point is he doesn’t have a mean steak in him either.

            David Backes plays on one of the best teams in the league for the past 3-4 years. They are an excellent possession team. Backes 260hits in 69 games this year. IN 48 games last year, he had 158. He plays a very physical, tough style. That’s just the way he is. They both are very big guys, both play on very good teams, both play on very good puck possession teams where hitting isn’t a necessity because they have the puck all the time. One guys hits everything that moves by choice, the other doesn’t by choice.

            So if you look at Backes’s numbers vs Getzlaf’s, based on the numbers, it looks like Getzlaf is a soft player. I don’t for a second think Getzlaf is soft at all but according to the numbers, he is.

            So what is the definition of soft?

  • I should ad that the Oilers reputedly took Yak because of Katz meddling.

    If that phenomenon still exists I don’t see how the Oilers pass on Sammy….. he’s just so damn cute. ;)) and that schooling of the Hitmen…. good grief.

  • Neilio

    Ekblad all the way for me. Draft him and send him back to junior with nurse while we work on this dumpster fire.
    I find it interesting that one of the reasons that teams have cooled a bit on Ekblad is that he’s man-sized playing against teenagers. But when you apply that to the forwards it doesn’t matter? Draisaitl isn’t using his size to his advantage? Its not covering up holes in HIS game?
    Bennet is the smallest of the three and he puts up points while playing exactly the style of game that the Oilers need. He has room for improvement, because he will still need to fill out some.
    I’d hate to think that the Oilers are leaning towards Draisaitl solely because he has the size to step into the NHL right away. Because if there is one thing we’ve learned, rookies are NOT saviors.

  • One of the mis-labelled columns in your PP chart highlights an important factor: age.

    Draisaitl – Oct 27, 1995

    Reinhart – Nov 6th, 1995

    Sam Bennett – June 20, 1996

    Bennett is a year younger than the rest. It would almost be fairer to compare his stats from next year to Draisaitl’s stats from this year. The german is the oldest, and should be out-producing Bennett by a mile. At least he made team Germany.

    I’m sure the smartest men in the room will make the right decision.

    • TKB2677

      Also besides age, Bennett has a mean streak and is scoring way more at Even Strength which to me is more impressive than all the PP points the other two get.

      My thoughts are fire all the scouts and just follow Bob Mckenzie’s draft guide, he has a great track record.

  • Craig1981

    I used to think the oilers just need to finish in the top 4 (ok, bottom 4) but if you look at all the scouting reports (there is a page that lists 10+ scouting groups) Bennet, rienhart, and ekbland are always top 3.

  • TayLordBalls

    The last few games have been for player evaluations.

    The Oilers took their number 1 draft pick (Hall) and leading scorer the season before, then tried to turn him into a centre. That was a poor decision and the start of all the kaos to follow.

    Well nows the time to try something different.

    Coach:

    If Yak would agree, why not let him try centre? He has the smarts, abilities, drive, weight and size.

    That test would tell the team what they need further into the draft.

  • vetinari

    You can’t go wrong with any of those prospects, but with the centremen, you can look at it this way– Draisaitl is putting up the same numbers as the other centremen despite having a weight advantage over all of them.

    • The Real Scuba Steve

      I heard the same talk in months leading up to when we picked Nudge and Yak. There is no such thing as You can’t go wrong with any of those prospects.

  • The Last Big Bear

    A pick is always worth more than the player you choose with that pick (at least for the year or two after the draft).

    The Oilers need a #1 defenceman.

    They need to start calling up crappy teams, and offering them REAL assets (ie 1st rounders, “untouchable” forwards) for their best defencemen.

    Winnipeg has Byfuglien, Calgary has Giordano (but you can’t have him), I can think of anyone in Nashville that Oilers fans would be interested in … … but you get the point.

    Find a crappy team who has a good defenceman and needs young assets to rebuild.

    “They” say that the team that gets the best player wins the trade, but that’s bogus. If your team gets better, you won the trade.

    Back in the day, the Flames traded Brett freakin Hull (in the middle of his breakout season), to get a backup goalie and shore up on defence. That trade won them the Stanley Cup. Because they needed a backup and a good defenceman more than they needed another 50-goal kid.

    The Oilers get better now, and for next 5-7 years, by adding a 28-30 year old stud defenceman, even if it costs them Hall and/or a top-3 pick.

    Picking a centreman who will start contributing 5 years from now is just silly at this point in time. But who are we kidding? Whoever the Oilers draft will be thrown into hard minutes in the NHL by the time they’re 19, ready or not.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Lowetide do the Islanders move next season in Barclays in Brooklyn or is it the year after?

    The reason I ask is motivation. How motivated is Wang to put a competitive product on the ice in Nassau vs in Brooklyn? Does he care about the small fan base in Nassau? At all?

    Would Garth Snow consider trading his pick for an established player with term? Gagner? Tavares has Strome who has how many games experience at center in the NHL?
    I think the longer Sam Rheinhart and the Ice play the more likely it is he’ll be chosen number 1.

    If Florida picks second I think they take Eckblad.
    The Oilers will take Leon.

    The Isles Dal Colle. They need a shooter to compliment Tavares.

    I really think that the Oilers can offer the Isles what they need up front only if they are willing to trade Eberle. If Eberle is the deal then its the Isles first and Griffin Rheinhart and a 2cd and 3rd pick.

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      Firstly my apologies. I didn’t initially realize you were asking Lowetide specifically…but as I’ve now written this up I would still like to share it. What you wrote offers a lot of food for thought, and that is why I read here…I appreciate that!

      I feel the Islanders won’t trade the pick, period, IMHO.

      They have quite a dilemma with their trading Buffalo their 1st round pick either this year. It is top-5 protected this year meaning they can defer it to 2015. They can’t do that though, because that is the Connor McDavid / Jack Eichel draft. There is so much pressure on them now, IF they do pick this year – that they cannot afford to do anything but hit a home run knowing they may be giving up the next Sid Crosby. I believe they therefore will give up this year’s pick so they can keep next year’s.

      The only thing I believe that would change that would be if they were to win the draft lottery… If they turn that pick into one of our young studs up front, perhaps in an overpay to get them what may help their GM keep his job, and to play with Tavares. I only go out on a limb and give up one of our young studs, for Aaron Ekblad also including a quality established player like say a Travis Hamonic coming back.

      I do feel it would take much more than Gagner to entice them, or another top 5 team…but would love it if another team took both Gags and Yak together. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would do the trick. You’ve got to give up something to get something back. The Blues surrendered Scott Stevens to get Brendan Shanahan. Later they had to give up Shanahan to get Pronger! Both difficult to do but as it is a good example of the painful process of quality for quality.

      Again, good post; thanks for offering up all of your thoughts!

  • TKB2677

    I’m really torn with this upcoming draft. DO the Oilers need help on defense? Yes they do but they also need help at center, especially big centers that can play in the top 6.

    So I have been doing a lot of thinking and I wonder, what is harder to get via trade or free agency? Big top 6 center or top 4 Dmen? I know having a #1 Dman can make a HUGE impact on your team but so can having 2 very good centers especially if 1 of them is big. I look at some of the best teams in the NHL right now. Not all of them have that #1 Dman but they all have very good centers and usually 1 of them is big.

    So I really don’t know what I would do. It is difficult to get #1 Dmen but you can get a bunch of top 3-4 guys and have a pretty solid defense and do very well (Ducks, Sharks, Pens, Rangers, Flyers, Columbus, Detroit, Chicago). Chicago out of all of them has the closest to a #1 Dman. Keith and Seabrook are both #2 easily but you can go down the list and list off 10 guys that are probably considered better than they are. They don’t have a Weber, Suter, Pietrangelo, Chara, Doughty. Keith is pretty good though. Nashville has the best guy in the league – Weber – but nothing up front. So what does that get them. They used to have 2 of maybe the top 5 dmen in the league (Weber and Suter) and they didn’t win squat. But if you look at the teams I listed and except for Detroit and Columbus, everyone of those teams has gone farther in the past playoffs with a bunch of guys farther down the list at the D position because their overall team was superior.

    I look at that and I think. If the Oilers keep developing their young guys – Marincin, Schultz, Klefbomb and those young guys turn into all top 2-3 guys. Maybe get 1 or 2 solid top 4 guys and have not an elite defense, but a good – very good defense, are they not better off if they have 2 solid centers? You typically can get top 4 Dmen but it’s pretty hard to get top 6, big centers unless you draft them.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Right on the money. The perfect example of this is the Oilers dynasty. They had gretzky and Messier. While Coffey was a great player, the key was the centremen. The NYI never really succeeded until they added Goring to complement Trottier. Sedin and Kesler added tremendously to the Canucks. The list goes on and on. a cup contender must have strength at centre and the Oilers today need another highly talented centre.

      Ekblad will take too long to develop, if he ever does.

  • Would Anaheim trade their 7th overall pick for Sam Gagner?

    They’ll go hard after Kesler this off season but I believe the Nucks trade Kesler to Toronto this off season.

    Nucks have shown an unwillingness to trade within the division.

    Anaheim will have the 7th and probably the 27th pick overall this year. They have Etem and DPS waiting in the wings.

  • Spydyr

    Bob Stauffer tweets “The Oilers need to sign a couple of veteran bigger 3rd liners who can play and chip in offence. Reinhart would look good with the young guns”.

    Really, are these young guns good enough, big enough to make any difference ?

  • TKB2677

    Here’s another thing to consider in drafting a Dman vs a Center.

    It’s probably going to take Ekblad at least 200 games before he gets to where he is a dominant guy. Pietranglo is a great example. He’s closing in on 300 games. He’s been listed as an elite guy for about the last 1.5-2 seasons. SO after he was around the 200 game mark.

    Hall is just over 200 games (239) and if it wasn’t for a voting glitch with the hockey writers, he would of been voted as the second best left winger in the game last year. That’s after about 171 games played. If Ekblad can become an elite guy in say 200 games like Pietrangelo. So after you let Ekblad potentiall play another year in junior to develop more, then play another 3+ seasons to get to an elite level, we are talking 4-5 years from now. In 4-5 years, Hall, Eberle, Nuge will be getting close to the end of their deals. Is that too late? Where as in 2 seasons, Draisailt could be a good second line center and in 4 years, the time when Ekblad should be coming into his own, he could be an extremely good center.

  • Spydyr

    How is Michael Dal Colle not even a part of the conversation? He’s bigger and seems poised to challenge for an NHL spot next year!

    Oshawa has been producing tall trees for years (Cassels, Laughton, Jensen, De Haan, Del Zotto etc.) and the Oil seem to miss everytime. They passed on Boone Jenner for Musil in 2011, and I don’t think they should pass on Dal Colle for Draisaitl this year.

  • Spydyr

    my thoughts on this team is can anyone tell me how next year will be differnt?? The Oil brass says that 4,93,14,57 and not going anywhere and that Justin Schultz is also not going anywhere so how does this team get better ?? sign free agents?? who’s coming here via free angency?? in a trade ok who are the oilers willing to move 89?? what is his market now?? 64 ?? what is he worth right now?? so your left with 3rd and 4th liners on this team. So they draft whom ever wont’ be ready for 3 to 4 years sorry oil fan this train wreck is not going away next year or the year after.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    Ugh, I don’t know if I can handle 88 days of “could/would/should” when it comes to the Oilers and their draft strategy.

    No matter who they draft, the organization will still have huge holes to fill. Can’t we all agree that the “next year it’ll be different” message is wrong if the Oilers are pinning hopes on an 18 year old to be a difference maker in meaningful minutes as a 2C or top 4D?

    This team won’t compete until they have elite two-way play in the top 6 and at least one elite defenseman. It pains me to say that’s probably years away…

    • The Last Big Bear

      Except Schultz is Canadian.
      I get your drift, but when you get a prospect for free, why wouldn’t you sign him.

      I can think of a soft American defenceman who is quite good. Suter Fowler was his name.
      You never know.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    LT – you have a knack for finding gifs that sum up this season nicely.

    As for the draft, I don’t see how you can go wrong with any of these 3 kids.

  • TKB2677

    The problem with Bennett is he is 6’0, 178lbs. The Oilers NEED SIZE.

    I had a debate with a guy about Gagner. According to this person, Gagner “wasn’t small”. He wasn’t big but he’s 200lbs supposedly, so he’s not small. At 5’11, 200lbs playing against 6’4, 225, you are small.

    When in a few years when Bennett matures physically and he gets close to 200lbs. He’s still going to get pushed around by guys that are 20-25lbs heavier. Same goes for Reinhart. He’s only 185lbs.

    Draisailt is already 208 at 18. By 20, he’s going to be easily 225. Big, big difference between 200 and 225.

    It’s time for the Oilers to stop drafting the supposedly “best player” and draft by need. They need a big center and could use a top Dman.