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?
LEON V. NUUUUUGGGGEEEE!
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.
SCOUTING REPORTS VIA RED LINE
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.
NHL EQUIVALENCIES (per 82gp)
- 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).
SKATING AND SIZE
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
WILL HE MAKE IT?
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?