After his performance in Jasper at the Oilers orientation camp, some Oiler fans are thinking Leon Draisaitl might be NHL-ready. That doesn’t matter, fans don’t make the roster decisions. However, Edmonton’s trading of Sam Gagner right after the draft, added to inactivity in the trade market, suggest management may also feel he’s worthy of a long NHL look this fall. Is he?


nuge yellow ferguson

The last time we discussed a center coming straight from the draft to the opening night roster, it was the man in yellow (photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved). On his NHL combine weigh-in day, the Nuge tipped the scales at 171.2 pounds, 16 pounds lighter than Taylor Hall a year ago, and over 30 pounds lighter than Leon Draisaitl. Both centers were listed at 6.01 on their draft day.


  • Nugent-Hopkins has the highest
    offensive upside and is the most potent playmaker of the bunch. He’ll
    struggle to handle the physicality of the NHL over a grueling 82-game
    season since his current walking around weight is a slightly built 163
    pounds. But he is gritty and willing to battle in traffic and stand up
    for himself, so he’ll eventually get there. One thing he has shown is a
    consistent ability to elevate his game at the biggest moments.
  • Leon Draisaitl: Huge German centre is tenacious in puck pursuit with his relentless forecheck often creating chances for linemates. Started using his heavy snap shot more this season and became a dual threat. Dominates the game down low with outstanding puck protection. Uses big frame to win the puck, pin men along the walls, or drive straight through would-be checkers. Constantly outthinks the opposition and knows where his outlets are at all times. Has learned to use his size to carve out space for himself and effectively separate opponents from the puck. Strong hockey sense in all three zones leads to good positioning. Traditional playmaking centre finds ‘mates with crisp, accurate passes. Intelligent, two-way, classically schooled centre. Outshone Reinhart in head-to-head action against Kootenay. Highly competitive nature with a never quit mentality.


  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-27-38
  • Leon Draisaitl 15-25-40

This is basically equal, there’s no real edge for Draisaitl despite scoring 40 points to Nuge’s 38. The idea of NHLE is to give us a range, and in fact Nuge’s NHLE (.463 points-per-game) estimated low (RNH delivered 62GP, 18-34-52 .839 courtesy insane power-play numbers).


One big difference between these two players is skating. Nuge’s scouting reports included wild claims about edges and turns and how much of the ice he could cover simply because of his exceptional balance. No wide turns he, RNH arrived day one as a guy who didn’t waste very much time and energy doing figure 8’s. We’ve seen that since 2011 fall, it is real and it is spectacular.

Leon Draisaitl’s skating is an issue. He’s a big man and has an unusual stride, most comments I read about him mention quick starts as an issue. WHL from Above’s Cody Nickolet suggests “his skating is also another area of concern as he’s got a choppy, ugly



I think he does. The timing of the Gagner trade, even though Edmonton’s management suggested he was coming back as a winger, along with the glowing words from MacT and Stu MacGregor about the German suggests there is a very large opportunity for Draisaitl.

Nuge got the same chance, and won the day. Will Leon?

We wait. 

    • ubermiguel

      Yes, it could hurt. If he’s ready to play against men in the NHL sending him back to a mediocre WHL team to play against boys will slow down his development. We’ve got the pre-season and 9 games to decide. The Nuge was an easy call, if I recall correctly he was our leading scorer when the 9 game limit came around. I hope Draisaital makes the decision easy for the same reason.

      • Dan 1919

        It’s the Norm to send 18 year olds back to junior and the exception to play them the first year. There’s no evidence to back up your claim that it will slow down his development. That’s where he’s been playing and he seems to be developing fine.

        There’s questions about his skating which he could spend the year improving, and would it hurt him to show that not only can he be the best player on a mediocre team, but he can also make a mediocre team a good one. There’s no rush. I know everyone’s excited to play with the new toy

        • ubermiguel

          You do raise some valid points in your posts, but with regards to not having NHL competition at camp, you are forgetting that he will be judged more on how he performs against other proven NHL centres and defencemen then if he is better then Lander.

        • J.R.

          I think Miguel meant if he was truly NHL ready that sending him back just for the sake of “giving him time” may be actually set him back. You guys are both right.

          • ubermiguel

            You got it. There was a big “IF he’s ready” at the start of my post. I’m not a fan of a prospect being the best guy on a team in a lower league, he’s got no one to push him or learn from. It’s like that saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong wrong.”

            I do agree with Rex, it would be better if we had some real NHL centres to at least give us some real options.