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?
WHAT HE SAID
“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.”
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 . . .
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.