I don’t see the debate about how the Edmonton Oilers should fill the holes they have on their roster at centre in terms of black and white when it comes to how or if Leon Draisaitl fits into the equation next season. I find myself pulled between preference and practicality.

Call it sitting on the fence if you like, but as we sit here during the first week of July, I don’t think there’s a hard and fast answer as to whether Draisaitl should be in the mix when the puck drops on 2014-15. I weighed in on the issue in my last item here.

In terms of preference, there’s a reasonable case to be made Draisaitl should be returned to Prince Albert of the WHL next season, no matter what. Don’t rush the kid. Don’t burn a year of his entry level contract. Jason Strudwick of TSN 1260, for example, made the case on his show and on Twitter Wednesday. David Staples of The Cult of Hockey says the same.

I get where they’re coming from. I just can’t embrace the “no matter what” part of the argument on a day that Draisaitl took his first twirl on the ice as a member of the Oilers at a development camp in Jasper. I’m in the wait-and-see camp.



I can’t sit here today and tell you with a straight face Draisaitl is ready to play in the NHL next season. Likewise, I can’t say for certain he won’t be ready when the puck drops. I don’t know. Do you?

I don’t think Draisaitl should be handed a roster spot because he’s a third overall pick. I don’t care about the optics. I don’t think he should make the team by default because after first-liner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and utility man Boyd Gordon, the Oilers are woefully thin down the middle.

As I wrote June 28, even if Draisaitl gives strong indications he’s not in over his head, I don’t want to see him force-fed into a second-line role. At the very least, GM Craig MacTavish has to find a proven NHL centre – easier said than done – who can provide a buffer and split the ice that’s up for grabs time between RNH and Gordon.

Whether Draisaitl sticks in Edmonton or is returned to Prince Albert, the bottom line for me is that the Oilers will be making a mistake if they don’t at least let him compete for a job before making a decision based on merit. Let this play out.



  • Jonathan Willis took a thorough look at centre Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues as a possible target for the Oilers recently and I concur with his take. I like Berglund and I think he slots in behind RNH as a second/third-line option. The question, as always, is the ask.
  • I got plenty of reaction on Twitter Wednesday when I said I’d be willing to trade anybody not named Taylor Hall, RNH, Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Ben Scrivens, or Justin Schultz for Berglund. A lot of it was along the lines of “You’d trade Nail Yakupov?” Yes, yes I would. I recognize there’s an element of risk, but I’m not as sold on Yakupov as many fans are. Not exactly trading him for a bag of pucks here.
  • A lot of people think Mark Fayne might be a pleasant surprise as an addition to Edmonton’s blue line. Numbers like him, too. Haven’t seen him enough to have a feel for him. As a low-cost depth player, I like the addition of Keith Aulie.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    If MacT can’t bring in a center he has failed as a GM. Ever since he was hired we’ve been constantly begging the Oilers to bring in a NHL centerman. The biggest need on the team for two years,two free agency periods and nothing to show. If RNH and Gordon get hurt we are playing meaningless hockey before christmas again.

  • Bullets Hockey

    I agree with you RB. I don’t like what I see in Yaks game and he IS redundant on our team even if I did like what I see. I don’t understand why so many fans like Yak so much. I’d take a guy like Arcobello, or Bergland, over Yakalov any day and twice on Sunday.

  • BlazingSaitls

    IF we traded Yak for Berglund, one of two things would almost certainly happen. Either Yak goes to STL and explodes for 30-40 goals and everyone goes back to believing he is a legit #1 overall OR Berglund comes to EDM and craps the bed.

    Its not worth the risk at this point to move Yak until he has another terrible season and we trade him for a puck bag. Right?

    Its actually a bad situation for the Oilers, and given their track record of the majority of trades over the last handful of years, one would think that either way the Oilers are going to end up getting screwed in the ear.

    I would see if they can throw an offer sheet to Steve Ott for 1 year at about 1.8 – 2.5 mil and see if it has traction. Not the best offensive guy but like Hendricks, Ott brings an edge every night and is hard to play against. That is after all exactly what we said needed to be improved upon to compete in the West is it not?

  • Nomad787

    I agree about Leon. But man am I glad your not the GM. I get your not that high on yak but seriously how would that deal make any sense. Berglund will never be more than what he is now, yak is 20 and has played a year and a half on a very bad team.

  • jonrmcleod

    Totally agree, Drasaitl needs to earn playing on this team.

    Would love to see us getting a 2C & 3C (Legwand plus might be too much cash).

    IF Drasaitl makes the team no harm in starting on the wing either Mckinnon looked pretty good there this year.

  • jonrmcleod

    trade for vinny lecavalier. shouldn’t be too hard. can teach the kids something. former cup winner. Nuge – Lecavalier – Draisaitl – Gordon isn’t a bad centre line up

    • Dockstaff

      HELL NO! Start watching Sports Centre!

      Listen to any of the experts, MacKenzie, Dreger, Ron McLean… Lecavalier is not a leader. They gave him the C in TBay and it turned out to be a disaster. He is reported to be the first off the ice at practice and often skips optional skates. He won’t teach anything but bad habits and why someone else can back check.

      • Dockstaff

        So he acts like Hemsky, plays Center and can beat up or hold his own with Iginla.

        Yeah, Sportscenter is right, we don’t want him.

        I remember when Calgary traded Bourque and I wanted him, then he stood out on the playoffs after everyone wrote him off. Don’t be too quick to judge..

        • Randaman

          “I remember when Calgary traded Bourque and I wanted him, then he stood out on the playoffs after everyone wrote him off. Don’t be too quick to judge..”

          Bourque had some disappearing acts in the 2014 playoffs. He dominated Tampa, then disappeared against Boston.

          Everyone wrote him off because he was bad in CGY just before they traded him, and he’s been dreadful in Montreal.

      • Craig1981

        Plus Philly isn’t in that bad of cap space. Sure they are 3M over, but they get 5M in cap relief as soon as they put Pronger on the LTIR…..Thats 2M under and they only have Gustafsson as an RFA to sign.

  • Gordie Wayne

    I would not trade Yakupov for Berglund. A defensive prospect and maybe a draft pick is the most I’d give up. We need a stop-gap for Draisaitl we don’t need to make a statement trading Yakupov, that seems counter productive for Berglund.

  • Bullets Hockey

    I think Brock Nelson from NYI should be considered…..he’s a big body that can play center or wing. And the asking price shouldn’t be too much.

  • Gordie Wayne

    I like what MacT has done so far…if I am him, this is what I do next:

    1. Sign 6’2 205 lbs. former 8th overall pick Peter Mueller for cheap short term contract (1.5 to 2 million per for 1 to 2 years).
    The other decent C available in UFA just don’t do it for me (Ott was -38 last year, Roy is small although is a point producer, and Legwand likely wants too much term and money).

    2. Sign one of Winnik or David Moss as depth winger for 2.5 to 3 million (we need penalty killers).

    3. If MacT is set on trading Petry, then it needs to be for an upgrade at D. Say Petry + prospect like Musil + a 2nd/3rd rd pick for a decent top pairing dman for the team (like Byfgliuen or Coburn or ????)

    • DieHard

      Petry, prospect and pick for a bona fide #1 defense man, get Mueller or Legwand for a C and let’s see what happens – surely to God it can’t be worse than last season’s implosion. Well done MacT, you sure are making changes instead of dithering like your predecessor.

      • Gordie Wayne

        Let’s see…

        1. Mueller at 1.75 million per year

        2. Winnik for 3.0 million per year

        3. Trade Petry for Coburn (4.5 million per year)

        Oilers at 66.5 million (2.5 million under cap) – enough to sign Schultz to a short bridge at 2 years at 5 million or less.

        Also, that is with 3 million in bonuses that can be rolled to next year if they want more room.

  • Craig1981

    Berglund’s a 3rd line centre…so uh ya….you’re selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you’re anti-Russian or just anti-logic

    • Spoils

      Exactly, Berglund’s a 3rd line big young NHL centre. Yakupov is a minor leaguer.

      Sooo, let’s see. What to call me today? Xenophobe? Ageist? I’m sure you’ll think of something.

    • Gordie Wayne

      Like I said, there’s risk in moving a player as young as Yakupov, but I see enough I don’t like in his game that I’d be willing to make the move — as I said I would for Clarkson (in the scenario Gregor put forth) before the horrid season he just had.

      I think Berglund is capable of taking on more minutes here. Perhaps not as a full-blown 2nd line centre right away, but in the 2/3 role I mentioned. By the way, Berglund has averaged more minutes as the third-line centre you peg him as than Yakupov has in his roles here.

      Feel free to disagree with the premise, but spare me the anti-Russian/anti-logic bit.

    • Sorensenator

      What are you talking about? Clarkson was a UFA last year, there was no trading anything for him.

      I have been trying to hammer this into people for quite some time, Yakupov, as skilled as he may be, and all the potential he possesses is still adding the same dimension to the team they already have..more or less, even if he turns it around.

      We need a different make up in our top 9. Yes we added Pouliot and Purcell however those type of players are not seen down the middle in Edmonton. Yakupov could fetch that type of centre man in Patrick Berglund.

      Bring in sometime you don’t have, and move out something you have plenty of….. DUH?

      • Whitey31

        So if i had a garage full of sports cars and I need a truck, I should just trade my brand new Ferrari (considering the price we paid for him) for an F-150…DUH? Maybe if i was getting 4 of them, but Berglund straight up is ridiculous.

        I understand the frustration that Nail brings to certain fans as we all hoped he would be better (becoming an Oilers logic), but if he was drafted by a team with depth do you think he would have even played yet? Did you have an issue with his 1st season?

        The same people that want to throw Yak under the bus are the same ones that think Leon should go back to juniors..just think about that for a sec?

        • camdog

          Yak’s first season wasn’t much different than last season. The difference was that in the shortened season, when the Oilers were out of the playoffs Krueger let Yakopov have fun and Yakopov went on fire to finish the season and he scored more on the powerplay. The lack of powerplay scoring last season affected everybody on the team. You remove the last dozen or so games from his rookie season and he’s the same player.

          It’s still too early to trade him, because we don’t know what we have, he has a lot of things to work on, but has one of the best shots on the team. What Yakopov desperately needs is a veteran type centreman, like a Berglund. If the team fails to obtain a veteran centre to complement his game it would be a very, very big mistake.

        • DieHard

          Well a garage full of sports cars can be misleading. You may have a Ferrari, but you can also have a Mustang 5.0 and lets say a Vette Z06. Now all these cars go fast, but one costs 250,000 or more, another costs 50,000 and the other costs 150,000. Again they all go fast, now I need to go pick up a load of drywall for my basement. None of the cars will do the job very well, so now I need a different type of vehicle, a truck. Id prob trade the 5.0 in for a truck.

          Now trading Yak for Berglund? Not a good idea…………..DUH?

        • I Remember the Orange Jerseys

          To extend your analogy, if the F-150 results in you progressing your business so you make enough money so you can get as many sport’s cars as you may want….

          We also don’t yet know if Yak is a Ferrari or an Edsel (or some where in between).