After his performance in Jasper at the Oilers orientation camp, some Oiler fans are thinking Leon Draisaitl might be NHL-ready. That doesn’t matter, fans don’t make the roster decisions. However, Edmonton’s trading of Sam Gagner right after the draft, added to inactivity in the trade market, suggest management may also feel he’s worthy of a long NHL look this fall. Is he?


nuge yellow ferguson

The last time we discussed a center coming straight from the draft to the opening night roster, it was the man in yellow (photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved). On his NHL combine weigh-in day, the Nuge tipped the scales at 171.2 pounds, 16 pounds lighter than Taylor Hall a year ago, and over 30 pounds lighter than Leon Draisaitl. Both centers were listed at 6.01 on their draft day.


  • Nugent-Hopkins has the highest
    offensive upside and is the most potent playmaker of the bunch. He’ll
    struggle to handle the physicality of the NHL over a grueling 82-game
    season since his current walking around weight is a slightly built 163
    pounds. But he is gritty and willing to battle in traffic and stand up
    for himself, so he’ll eventually get there. One thing he has shown is a
    consistent ability to elevate his game at the biggest moments.
  • Leon Draisaitl: Huge German centre is tenacious in puck pursuit with his relentless forecheck often creating chances for linemates. Started using his heavy snap shot more this season and became a dual threat. Dominates the game down low with outstanding puck protection. Uses big frame to win the puck, pin men along the walls, or drive straight through would-be checkers. Constantly outthinks the opposition and knows where his outlets are at all times. Has learned to use his size to carve out space for himself and effectively separate opponents from the puck. Strong hockey sense in all three zones leads to good positioning. Traditional playmaking centre finds ‘mates with crisp, accurate passes. Intelligent, two-way, classically schooled centre. Outshone Reinhart in head-to-head action against Kootenay. Highly competitive nature with a never quit mentality.


  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-27-38
  • Leon Draisaitl 15-25-40

This is basically equal, there’s no real edge for Draisaitl despite scoring 40 points to Nuge’s 38. The idea of NHLE is to give us a range, and in fact Nuge’s NHLE (.463 points-per-game) estimated low (RNH delivered 62GP, 18-34-52 .839 courtesy insane power-play numbers).


One big difference between these two players is skating. Nuge’s scouting reports included wild claims about edges and turns and how much of the ice he could cover simply because of his exceptional balance. No wide turns he, RNH arrived day one as a guy who didn’t waste very much time and energy doing figure 8’s. We’ve seen that since 2011 fall, it is real and it is spectacular.

Leon Draisaitl’s skating is an issue. He’s a big man and has an unusual stride, most comments I read about him mention quick starts as an issue. WHL from Above’s Cody Nickolet suggests “his skating is also another area of concern as he’s got a choppy, ugly



I think he does. The timing of the Gagner trade, even though Edmonton’s management suggested he was coming back as a winger, along with the glowing words from MacT and Stu MacGregor about the German suggests there is a very large opportunity for Draisaitl.

Nuge got the same chance, and won the day. Will Leon?

We wait. 

  • PlayDirty

    Remember when everybody made a big deal of Kevin Durant being unable to do 1 rep of bench press. This isn’t concerning at all. It’s much easier to take a guy like Bennett and make him stronger than it is to take a stronger guy and make him play like Bennett.
    Size isn’t everything guys.

  • Dan 1919

    Right now, there is nothing standing in his way from making the team. We need to add a 2nd centre then have Arcobello and Draisaitl duke it out for the third centre. If Leon earns a spot on the team, good for him. Just don’t hand him one. Also, if he does make it, at least we should have two other lines to take some of the load off whereas RNH was kind of thrown to the wolves.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Walt did his own combine with the high ranked prospects that year and assures me that Nuge could not do a pull up. But he ranked high in the “Where’s Waldo” test

    • Dan 1919

      Haha yeah, that was the year Walter got so drunk they hauled him out of his own event.

      Let’s turn this blog into an intervention for Walter. I’ll start.

      Walter you’re drunk and you need to log out of Oilers Nation. (I’m going to self prop this because Walter needs reassurance that we’re here to help)

  • Zarny

    Define “NHL ready”.

    Good enough to simply make the NHL? Probably. Draisaitl might be the Oilers’ 2nd best C in the fall. Good enough to be a legit 2C? Highly unlikely.

    The decision should be based on what path will develop the best player in the long term.

    Hall was a no-brainer to keep. A freak who had 84 and 90 PT as a 16 and 17 y/o in Jr. No Oiler draft pick should be compared to him.

    I think it was a mistake to keep both Nuge and Yak. With Nuge it’s right there in the Red Line report. Not big enough or strong enough and will struggle with the physicality of the NHL. Check that. Yak’s overall game simply wasn’t good enough. It doesn’t matter that they were drafted 1st overall; they aren’t the same caliber of prospect as Hall.

    Neither is Draisaitl. Unless he looks like he can be a legit 2C and get 50 PT send him back to Jr…even if he’s the 2nd best C this fall.

    I’d rather see Draisaitl playing 20+ min a night in all situations than limited minutes on the 3rd line. In Jr he’ll be the best player on the ice and relied on for leadership. He’ll have the freedom to experiment and try new things. If it doesn’t work he’ll be good enough to recover. In the NHL he won’t get that freedom and he won’t be good enough to recover.

    And when you look at the 18 y/o that have really done well it’s the best skaters. Hall was one of the fastest skaters in the NHL the moment he was drafted. Duchene and Mackinnon are especially strong skaters with the puck. Draisaitl’s strength is not skating. One more thing he can really work on in Jr. without the pressure of fans and the media picking him apart.

      • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

        If Samwise could get 37 points in 67 games then it’s not impossible for Leon to get 45 this year if he stays healthy, plays every game, and gets fed soft opposition and O-zone starts.

        My worry is that if they shelter him too much, he may put up decent points but will never learn how to play all situations and without the puck. (See: Gagner, Sam)

        I’d rather see him play 22 minutes a night in P.A., play every situation and work on rounding out his game rather than get 12 minutes a night against the NHL soft parade.

  • Spoils

    I’d love to see more articles and comments about what we should do for #2C. Who are we going to trade for, and what do we give up, and why.

    Starting the year without an NHL #2C is insane.

  • Muji

    As mentioned in some comments I think the best case scenario is to grab a journeymen centre and let arco, lander and DRE fight out the 3rd spot. The journeymen doesn’t have to be overlay offensive, as long as he is defensively reliable and can handle the west’s big centres I’ll be happy.

    It would also remove some pressure off of nuge allowing him to play his game and not try to carry the whole team on his shoulders. Any idea who a good journeymen could be?

    • The Soup Fascist

      David Legwand.

      But he would never sign with a rebuilding Canadian team for less than $4 million on a short term deal. Not in a million yea….

      Wait…. Ottawa? ….. Really?

      In all honesty I think once the Legwand deal was gone I don’t see a UFA pivot that I would touch with a 10 foot pole. Derek Roy is done and has been for four years. I would rather have Marcabello than Roy. Steve Ott, by eye and every advanced stat in existence is putting out on the 18th of his career and Mike Riberio is alleged to have …. ummm …..”personal issues”.

      The Oilers do need a 2C and if they want one they are likely going to have to trade. Personally I would part with the 2015 2nd and a young D prospect for the right guy and with the cap at $69 million there should be a deal to be made.

  • Muji

    People are talking about Nuge and Drei being a great one two punch at Centre. I totally agree that this could work very well. The question I raise is which one will be #1C and which will be #2C?

    Personally, I do not have a preference. However, it appears that the Nuge is developing as a top rate two way centre. Generally these players play the #2 roll. Based on his skill set, Drei appears to be well suited as a point producing Centre with the size to go head to head against some of the big western centres.

    If this is how things work out, fine. To me it doesn’t matter which is #1C or #2C, just that they appear to be a potentially dynamic combination for the Oilers.

  • Muji

    The thing that highlights LD for me is his ability’s to pass the puck and to protect the puck.

    Playing alongside Perron and Yak should do wonders for both wingers imo. Perron is a possession kind of players who battles and plays the front of the net.Whereas Yak is a shooter who plays the outside. You put a center with LD skill set and size and you may see a little different look than we have seen with Gagner.

    I like Arco with Benoit and TP.They push the play forward.

    BG,MH and TP or LG will defend well.

    I would rather be patient and see where the chips fall then make a signing that handcuffs the Oilers going forward.

    I would trade for Berglund.He’d be a solid 3rd line center.He’d fill in well on the 2cd line.

    For me Arco’s play early on will be the key.He is not a solution long term. But you never count anyone out.

  • S cottV

    Unless there is some sort of unlikely coup to be had from trades and or UFA’s the Oilers may as well try to fast track Drei.

    He would need veteran wingers and reasonable support in the back end to push the play forward.

    The awkward part is where to play Yak because it won’t work playing him with Drei.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      You ain’t seen genuflecting. 1979 I was worshiping at the greatness that was an 18 year old Wayne Gretzky. You want genuflecting.That was genuflecting.And guess what? He led us to the Promised Land of the SCF.

      So if you want genuine genuflecting then you better wait and see what Taylor Hall is going to become in the nexy 2-3 years. Then you’ll know what I say by you ain’t seen nothing yet.

      Leon is acolyte when compared to Hall.

  • Zamboni Driver

    This is so completely asinine.

    Okay, dear Oilers-coloured glasses geniuses.

    Remember when you were 18 years old?

    You were a boy.
    And a moron.
    And in no way ready to, or WANTING to hang out with grown ups.

    But because this guy has expensive skates, somehow that makes him NOT a teenager.

    Man this City needs a real hockey team pretty soon.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I’d be okay with Draisatl making the jump. I think as long as he’s got some role models on the team who know how to play team defence, it won’t be as big of an issue rushing him to the bigs. That was one thing that was sorely lacking when Hall, Nuge, and Ebs made the jump, but is considerably better with the past 2 years of additions to the bottom half of the team.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Lets just forget about trading or UFa’ing for our 2C needs. There are no 2C’s available

    Stick with what we got, and hope that we can at least play .500 hockey next season…OR

    Swing for the fence, trade Eberle and Yak for a real 2C, cause thats what it will cost

    Don’t do it MacT, just don’t do it.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Here according to capgeek (more or less) are the Western Conference 2C.

      Tyler Seguin
      Stephen Weiss
      Mike Richards
      Mike Granlund
      Brad Richards
      Ryan Kesler
      Martin Hanzal
      Mike Backlund
      Ryan O’Reilly
      Joe Pavelski
      Matt Cullen
      David Backes
      Nick Bonino
      Matt Perrault

      Now don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of very good hockey players here. Seguin and Backes are arguably 1C on their team or any other.

      But you are willing to trade a #1 OV who is 20 years old AND a 24 year old who will score 30 goals a year for many years for any of the other names on the list?

      I would not trade Yak or Eberle individually for anyone on this list not named Seguin or Backes.

      It won’t cost Yak and Ebs for a top 1/3 second line Center. You are willing to decimate your right side for a Nick Bonino or Stephan Weiss?

      Steve Tambellini = Bobby Canuck ??

      Edit. Yes I know Weiss and Detroit are now in the East. Old habits die hard.

      • BobbyCanuck

        No, I was thinking that if we want to swing for the fence, not swing for some middle of the road 2C. Bonino or Weiss? Not a chance.

        I would trade Ebs and Yak, straight up for: Crosby or Toews. I know these guys are 1C but with the right trade bait someone of that calibre may be available. Maybe not today, but perhaps half way through the season, as teams get desperate

        Most posters here are of the opinion that our garbage cast-offs will bring us a 2C. That is not going to be the case. No GM is going to trade thier NHL proven 1 or 2C to us for anyone that is not Eberleand/or Yakipov.

        The point I am trying to make is that we will have to give up the future to land a true 2C today, mortage our future to perhaps miss the play-offs by 2 or 10 points hardly seems wise to me, especially since we have been so bad for so long, why not just grow our own 2C? Isn’t that what all the pundits are saying ” You have to build the core of your team through the draft, and give them every opportunity to succeed”

        Our team is thin, we are as usual, one or two key injuries away from the McDaivd sweepstakes.

        MacT has done a good job, lets just ice what we got, and hope that some of our potential 2C material can rise to the challange.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          Sidney Crosby had more points than Eberle and Yakupuv put together last year, and Jonathan Toews just signed an 8 year deal for more money than Edmonton can afford to pay any one player.

          No one of that calibre is coming to Edmonton by trade.

      • BobbyCanuck

        I’d trade Yakupov for Jeff Carter, he’s probably LA’s # 2 now, but not Richards. I might also deal him for O’Reilly, and as you mention Seguin.

        Kesler, Pavelski, Backes, etc are all approaching their 30s, and each has their own warts, so I wouldn’t deal a potential cornerstone for any of them.

        Eberle for Seguin, but wouldn’t deal him for anyone else listed.

  • paul wodehouse

    Take a flyer on Ribiero. He is far and away the most skilled centre available. Sure he has had some off ice difficulties but on a one-year deal I can see him bringing some much needed offence to the second line.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Not a bad idea. I see him as just more of a pestering slower Gagner though. He was pretty bad defensively last year. So as long as fans can stomach another year of developing the forwards and use him as a stop gap, then I’m good with it.

      I might put my vote in for Ott. When he’s given decent linemates he can produce at an okay level. He could at least handle a third line role. Not to mention he plays hard and mean. A line with Perron and Ott would likely be the bane of the western conference. Moreover, I seem to remember Yak getting under a lot of people’s skin a few years back. That line might just have the skill and the scales to really get under the skin of every other line. Then Purcell and Pouliot could help Draisaitl until he’s ready.

      On another note, Heatly for 1 mil. I have been shouting that he would come cheap. I think that is a missed opportunity.

      • BobbyCanuck

        I don’t like to point to personal issues, but Ribeiro was just paid a lot of money by Arizona (lol) not to play for them because of behavioural issues. Do you really want him sharing a locker room with young guys, especially when the leadership component on this team isn’t exactly A+ (apart from Ference).

  • The Soup Fascist

    I really hope that LD has a great camp and is sent back to PA. If he makes the team it means we shouldn’t expect much improvement over last year.

    After the 48 game season the Stars were in a similar situation as the Oil. In the interim they have made “bold moves”. Traded for Segiun and Spezza. Seguin had a spotty first 3 years with the Bruins and, at this point, there is no guarantee Spezza will sign with the Stars next year. But the Stars have quickly gone from having zilch down the middle to having a strength there. They did this by shipping out 2 roster players, Erickson and Chiasson and 6 prospects/picks. Of the prospects sent out Reilly Smith looked very good for the Bruins in his 1st full season.

    Does this tell us something about what the Oil will need to do to improve at center?

    PS. Was acquiring Horcoff a “bold move”?

  • Tikkanese

    Summertime restocks our hope for the new season. We should all stop drinking the kool-aid tho. The Oilers won’t be making the playoffs without a true top pair of defensemen. Or without a veteran 2C.

    It will be better long run if we send them all down. Leon, Marincin, Klefbom & Nurse. Just because Marincin was better than most of the Oilers D last year doesn’t mean he should stay in the NHL this year. He would be much better off polishing his offensive touch in the AHL. Same goes for Klefbom. Both of them at least half the season if not longer. Leon and Nurse will be better long term if they both get sent down as well. We want to become Cup contenders, not just the “well they were in the playoff race until Feb. At least they’re better than the lottery years”.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Couturier. He’d be a great player on the Oilers. He’d be a definite add, especially given his age and his contract.

    But the reasons why he’d be a great fit on the Oilers are the same reason why the Flyers wouldn’t easily trade him, especially now that Homer is gone.

    People are entitled to wish all they like, but I don’t see why the Flyers would trade him, unless the Oilers blew them away with an offer that they couldn’t refuse. Then people would be angry with the trade for Couturier.