Oilers fans were thrilled when Leon Draisaitl was selected in the first round (No. 3 overall) at the 2014 Entry Draft. A team that had been adding high picks since 2010 finally had their big man in the middle, and the German Draisaitl boasted impressive pedigree. Four months later, I don’t think anyone questions his ability, but his NHL-readiness is an issue.

On TSN’s Insiders tonight, Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger discussed the Oilers and their center situation:

  • Darren Dreger: “Coming off a great game against the Washington Capitals, a game he helped the Oilers win. We like to count the games, the benchmark being 9 that burns off a year of eligibility. The Oilers aren’t overly concerned with it, that doesn’t mean that if they were to land a center they wouldn’t reevaluate his status, either prior to or after the 9 game threshold. We know that MacTavish is scouring the NHL looking for a bit more depth up the middle of the ice, so there could be some impact for Draisaitl in the near future.”

This would seem to indicate that AHL options (Anton Lander, Bogdan Yakimov, Jason Williams) are unlikely to unseat Draisaitl in his current role, but that the Oilers may in fact be looking outside the organization for options.

  • Bob McKenzie: “That 9-game threshold is becoming less important for teams in the NHL. The one that really matters to most teams now is the 39-game threshold, that is you can play 39 games in a year, but as soon as it goes to 40 it counts as a year toward unrestricted free agency.”

The entire conversation, including an economic benefit in addition to the above quotes, is available in the Insider Training episode.

It is here. 

Oiler fans have been clamoring for better depth at center, while also being impressed with young Draisaitl as a teenaged NHL player. It sounds like a similar tug-of-war is taking place in Oilers offices at this time.

We wait.

  • Serious Gord

    How many players could not skate coming outta junior.

    Perron is slow, got drafted late because of it.

    Eberle was cncidered slow.

    Penner could not get on his horse fast enough everyone said.

    Smyth was concidered average at best.

    I remember a 150 pound teenager who could not skate in the eighties.

    Draisaitl will figure it out, and is showing an improvement after 6 games. Its seems to me is a more of a game speed issue his high end speed is never going to be world beater status. Once in flight he looks fine.

    Maybe you don’t like the Thornton comment, but I remember how aweful he was. There was serious concerns about his bust status.

    Anyways off to a new thread.

    • Serious Gord

      for every examlpe you cite there are dozens of others who didn’t succeed.

      Thornton was awful and burns made him ride the bench for most of his first year – apparently he disagreed with the GM (sinden?) even having him play with the big team.

  • Serious Gord

    Patrick Berglund would be a great fit behind RNH. Big body center who is defensively responsible. Berglund starts off as 2nd line center and once Leon is ready to take the reigns he slips into a 3rd line role.

  • nuge2drai

    Draisaitl is very much improved from his first regular season game. I like this kid. I don’t know if many of you saw Bobby Smith play. Draisaitl reminds me a lot of him. He works hard. Dedicated to his job.

    This kid can play. And he can play now. Quit giving up on the kid for this year. He is developing very nice. He’s ready for this league.

    I don’t care about the “entry level year” or “free agent year”. I watch the games for entertainment. This guy impresses me. A lot. Some players are rushed to soon. This guy is ready.

  • Serious Gord

    The speed of the game is slowing down for LD and he looks better every game. Finding a second line centre via trade is next to impossible without getting fleeced.

    I like the way Mac T thinks but stay the course with LD unless an unreal trade option comes up……..whe was the last time that happened.

  • Serious Gord

    Early results comparison : Oilers and Calgary trends, etc..

    Calgary has good +- compared to Oilers , and also more points . Let us see how that translates . Flames getting big early rewards from the likes of Colborne and Raymond . More importantly , they are getting big rewards from 4 of their defensemen whom are leading their scoring having 4 of top 7 on their club being defensemen . In contrast we only have 1 defenseman in our top 8 scoring . Our low +- seems to be effected greatly by our lack of offence from our defence . Oilers seem to have better offensive players , but Flames defence is the difference maker so far . Flames have also had consistent stellar goaltending .

    Perhaps we need a couple of top 2 defence with offensive ability more than top two centers?

    • Zarny

      The difference between Calgary and Edmonton is not that the Flames are getting more offense from their D. Cgy is averaging 2.77 goals/game vs the Oilers 2.43 goals/game.

      The difference in goal differential is because Calgary is only averaging 2.11 goals against per game versus the Oilers’ 4.14 goals against per game.

      Gio and Brodie are certainly a big part of that. They play half the game and are able to break up plays and regain possession in their own end before any Timbit moments break out.

      The other part of the equation is Hiller and Ramo have stood on their heads so far. Hiller is sporting a 0.942 SV% which is not sustainable. Calgary is a bad team with bad possession numbers getting really, really good goaltending right now.

      If you want to see how that is going to go replay the Leaf’s season from last year. When Hiller and Ramo come down to earth Calgary is going to follow the same trajectory.

      • Kevwan

        Despite being an Oiler fan myself , you have to give credit to the Flames for making the most of what they have . Russel and Wideman (5points each already )also producing offensively well , and Smid playing well on third coupling . Goaltending might go down some , but I am not sold they may tumble near as bad as you seem to think . They are a force on back end , and making good use of that development as a strong core . They seem to be building their team like most , from backend , and almost opposite to the way we have been doing it for last 5 years . Their goaltending is strong , and I doubt it will become one of their weaknesses .

      • Zarny

        Zarny, can’t disagree with too much of what you say. It is what it is and the facts are before us. Calgary’s defense is clearly contributing much more than Edmontons, both O & D.

        Also, if Calgary is a “bad” team what does that make the Oilers? And the analogy to the Leafs? Well, perhaps so. If the Flames fade and end up just missing the playoffs, that would still be a huge win and great progress. Oilers seem to think getting into the draft lottery is success, lol there. You’re pretty good at it!

  • Zarny


    With Gio, Brodie and two goalies standing on their head the Flames would be doing just fine with Eakins.

    The Oilers problems have not been coaching. A chinese fire drill in your D zone is not a systems problem.

  • Kevwan

    What about Andrei Loktionov? I know he’s coming off shoulder surgery and he isn’t the ideal fit for what the Oilers need. He might be a decent low cost/risk option for MacT.

    After watching Ryan Johansen play so far I bet MacT wishes he was more aggressive with his offers during Johansen’s holdout.