JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF YOUR MIND

To the surprise of no one, the Edmonton Oilers announced today that Leon Draisaitl is staying—for now—with the team. A long and uneven tradition that began with Sam Gagner continues unabated, as the Oilers like their forwards to take one giant leap whenever humanly possible.

It looks like GM Craig MacTavish may be looking to hedge his bets a little though, and that’s good news for Oilers fans.

OILERS DEPTH CHART AT CENTER

  1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  2. Leon Draisaitl
  3. Mark Arcobello
  4. Boyd Gordon
  5. Will Acton

Bubbling down in OKC are Bogdan Yakimov, Anton Lander, Jujhar Khaira and Travis Ewanyk, along with AHL/Euro pro veteran Jason Williams. It is not a strong group, which makes a recent TSN 1040 interview with Bob McKenzie so interesting.

WHAT EXACTLY DID MCKENZIE SAY?

  • Bob McKenzie: “The Edmonton Oilers, I think, are looking for a centre. They’d like a
    little more depth at the position and maybe insulate the 19-year-old,
    Leon Draisaitl a little bit. He’s staying. He’s going to play his 10th
    game against Nashville. That’ll burn the first year of his entry level
    deal, but I still think Craig MacTavish is probably looking for a centre
    and some help
    .”
  • More McKenzie: “But moves aren’t easy to make and we’ll see where
    things go. It’s usually as we get closer to American Thanksgiving,
    towards the third week of November – that’s when you’re more likely to
    see deals than maybe right now.”

Source

This is very encouraging for Oilers fans, who can enjoy an improved team in 2014-15, but one that clearly has some holes and center is a major concern.

WHO WILL THEY GET?

Although we can’t identify exactly who Edmonton would acquire, I think it’s reasonable to suggest they would be looking for players who could help in the NHL immediately upon acquisition. So, better than Will Acton and Anton Lander, and probably better than Mark Arcobello, but unlikely to cost more than a pick and a prospect, and certainly nothing off the current roster.

One name I would absolutely follow is Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues. He’s been mentioned in trade rumors before and St. Louis has a lot of options in this regard.

The encouraging news is that Edmonton is apparently working on improving quality in an area that lacks depth and could impact the season in a negative way should injuries hit.

It’s a good day for Leon Draisaitl, as a fan I’m thrilled he gets more games to show his ability. I’m at least as pleased to find out Craig MacTavish is doing his due diligence with an eye to improve the pro roster.

  • Spurzey

    Leon needs to adjust to the speed of the pro game. Sending him back would set his development back a couple years. When the game slows down for him, he will compete with the big boys in the west. jmo

  • Zarny

    @CaptainLander

    I believe LD said he would want to go play in Europe, but he was drafted out of the CHL and my understanding of the CBA is that he would have to go back to Junior and would be ineligible to play in Europe but I could be wrong on that.

    The 39 games MacKenzie refers to deals with UFA eligibility. They’ll burn the 1st year of LD’s ELC on game 10 but the age at which he becomes a UFA isn’t effected until he plays 40 games and that does seem to be the bigger concern for teams. I don’t like the idea of burning the 1st year of an ELC for only 39 games but I agree the age of UFA eligibility is the more important of the two.

    I don’t think anyone has suggested “blowing up the team” even after starting 0-4-1. I think with the team back to 4-4-1 MacT will hold off on a trade partly because most teams aren’t looking to trade after 8-10 games so there probably aren’t a lot of willing trade partners right now. I suspect how long that lasts depends on how the Oilers do. If they stay ~ 0.500 or better I don’t think MacT will make any trades other than moving Petry at the deadline. If they lose 5 of their next 6 games different story.

    I would make acquire a C regardless. There numerous arguments to support adding depth at C. I haven’t heard a single valid argument to remain with the status quo.

  • Zarny

    @TKB2677

    Turn your questions around.

    How does Draisaitl work on his skating and battle against NHL players when he can’t keep up with the play and is lost without the puck?

    How does Draisaitl develop his skills on the PP when he gets virtually no PP time in the NHL?

    How does Draisaitl improve his conditioning when he only plays 9-14 min a night?

    How does Draisaitl develop leadership qualities when he isn’t capable of leading in the NHL?

    There is no question that at some point every player who makes the jump to the NHL needs to adjust. That’s just reality. The sooner the better though is not the correct answer. We’ve seen this with Yak. If you are lost and can’t keep up to the play you won’t improve. The Red Wings have shown that you can’t be too prepared to make the jump to the NHL.

    • TKB2677

      Easy answers.

      How do you learn how to skate at the NHL level? With practice.
      Every glory days Oilers has said it to a man, part of the reason why they were so good is because they practiced with Gretzky and they HAD to get better to keep up with him. You want to learn to skate better at the NHL level? Practice skating with NHL players.
      You want to learn to make plays at the NHL speed? Practice making plays at NHL speed in practice. How does he learn to skate with NHLers surrounded by 16 and 17 yr olds are that much better than he is? How does he learn to make plays at NHL speed when the pace of junior hockey is SIGNIFICANTLY slower than the NHL?
      How do you learn to win puck battles in the corners against men in junior when you our weigh our opponent by 30lbs or more?

      I’d like to know where this crap about him not being able to keep up comes from? I’ve been to several games and watched the rest. Yes he’s not going to beat Hall in a foot race but it’s not like he is 3 steps behind everyone. The guys gets to the spots where he needs to be.

      Develop PP skills? Do you watch the games? He’s on the second unit PP for god sake. Who do you think runs a better, more skilled practice? A junior coach or an NHL coach?

      Conditioning and ice time? Again, do you watch the games? He’s averaging over 13 mins a night. There is ZERO issue with his conditioning.

      Leadership? HAHAH WOW!! So bossing around and buying a bunch of 16 and 17 yr olds beer in PA means he’s going to be learning how to be a leader? How about being in a professional dressing room, watching how professionals handle themselves with the media, handle themselves in the dressing room, how they train, how they eat. How they handle tough situations. What they say. How valuable will that be instead of sitting beside a 16 yr old taking about gym class and his next math exam.

      The whole Red Wings BS is a crock of crap. Apparently you must have missed the interview with Ken Holland on Oilersnow maybe a month ago. Ken Holland was asked SPECIFICALLY about young players, about the “Detroit model” of letting them be in the minors a long time and what he would do if he had high end talent. He said it is different than the Oilers. They leave the kids down BECAUSE THEY HAVE TOO. WHY? Because they are drafting way late in the draft so the guys at the bottom of the draft aren’t NHL ready what so ever. They weren’t drafting top 3 picks, they were drafting end of the draft guys. Holland said that if they actually had the chance to draft a top pick, things would be different.

      • Spydyr

        For Oiler fans it may be to difficult to understand that high drafts should play in the NHL!
        The Oilers of course have to bond.This could take a few more years or decades!
        Thank goodness the Oilers are free on Friday night! Some of the players should buy some great outfits
        and go out.

        They could dress up as hockey players!
        Share the candy and bond.

        Halloween is a wonderful night.

  • Zarny

    Actuall, when Tambi says that Jordan won’t be part of that package in Oil Change the context is a high first rounder to pick up a big centre who could could have moved up to #2 with another month of play. Oil change also throws in that mgmt likes Johansen and shows Columbus on the scoreboard clock.

    watch between 0:40 and 2:30:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHNvr2ayHkw

    h/t:

    http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?p=91029137

    Most like scenario is they turned down eberle+ for Ryan Johansen.