The Edmonton Oilers made an unsurprising but still positive
announcement on Tuesday morning, revealing that third overall pick Leon
Draisaitl had been signed by the team.
Draisaitl’s signing comes after a number of other NHL teams
had already reached deals with top picks from the 2014 Draft, but unlike in
previous years – especially in 2012, when the Oilers waited until to sign Nail Yakupov – there wasn’t really any sense of concern in the public sphere. The
deals for top picks are pretty straight-forward; players near the top of the
draft get the rookie max or close to it and the number slides downward based on
Still, it’s a non-trivial signing because there’s a very good
chance the Oilers lean hard on Draisaitl this year.
While Edmonton has (encouragingly) placed a number of
obstacles in the path of Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom, forcing both to
clearly win a spot in training camp over an established player if they are to
play in the NHL, the same is not true in the case of Draisaitl. Discounting the
rookie, at this point Edmonton’s No. 2 and No. 3 pivots are Mark Arcobello and
Anton Lander, and if a third overall pick can’t beat Lander out for a job on a
scoring line it will be a very great shock.
It’s August, which means the Oilers still have time to add
another pivot to the mix, which would at least setup a contest between
Arcobello and Draisaitl for the final centre spot. Of course, anyone who has
followed the NHL knows that top-flight players don’t generally become available
this late in the summer, as teams generally like to have their rosters figured
out by some point in July.
If the status quo remains unchanged, it’s a virtual
certainty that Draisaitl plays pivotal minutes in Edmonton next season.
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