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.
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.