Tonight in Kelowna, Leon Draisaitl resumes his junior career on a loaded team looking to go deep  into the WHL playoffs and perhaps gain entry into the Memorial Cup championships. The last couple of days have been fascinating to watch, as various hockey people from the NHL and WHL have chimed in on the young man’s future.

It’s easy to forget just how impressive Leon Draisaitl was one year ago in the WHL. A big, strong centerman with skill, he was the offensive leader on a marginal playoff team. Along with (new teammate, again!) Josh Morrissey, Leon willed the Raiders into the post season before a quick exit. The final WHL scoring stats from 2013-14 tell Draisaitl’s offensive story. 


whl 1314 scoring

Draisaitl’s point-per-game totals last season (1.64/game) should spike for two reasons: He’s a year older and he’s playing for a very strong Kelowna Rockets team that is ranked No. 2 in the entire CHL at this time. Source

I’m not sure what we should expect from Leon in the last half of this season (offensively), but logic dictates 1.64/game plus a little is a good starting point. 


  • Leon Draisaitl: “I had an amazing time here. I learned so many things I
    can’t even list them. I’m thankful I’ve been given the opportunity to
    play in the NHL as a young kid.” Source
  • Craig MacTavish: “I think for obvious reasons, Kelowna was the destination for Leon
    and I think this is going to be extremely important for his
    development. I don’t view his games here as time
    wasted at all. I think it’s time well spent for him and I think
    everybody can understand what our rationale is to send him back to
    Kelowna to have this experience.” Source

FALL 2015

I expect Leon Draisaitl will be right back in Edmonton, possibly on LW, but a member of the opening night roster. The Oilers are committed to their youth and Draisaitl impressed enough at 2014’s TC to make the grade. I very much doubt he’ll be sent away by a MacTavish-led Oilers team this year. 

draisaitl capture


For now, we get to enjoy following Leon at a level he should dominate. The lost development time is significant but I don’t think it’s impossible to overcome. If the Rockets have a long playoff run he could be playing hockey long into the spring.

Give ’em hell, Leon!

(I’ll update scoring in comments section)

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    I haven’t really followed the WHL this year. What happened to the Oil Kings? Their record is mediocre. Too many of their players graduate?

  • bwar

    So would he be a millionaire based on how much NHL hockey he played this year? Thats gotta be a bit weird being loaded and playing with guys who have to live in some random strangers house.

    • bwar

      It is weird.As well,how will he spend his WHL weekly allowance? There are other juniors from the Major Canadian Juniors who won Gold on Monday.They go back to the allowance and their billet.Our Gold team assisted in the profit of $25,000,000.00.Fans should look at how Major Junior players are treated. That is also beyond WIERD!

      • slim_zani

        Thing is it’s comparable to NCAA football and Basketball. Huge money made off the sport, but none goes to amateurs. It’s kind of nice in a way (at least basketball) since players still try really hard. NBA is often lazy basketball.

  • Harry2

    How is going through an NHL training camp, and playing 38 NHL games lost development?

    And yes I know it was with an awful Oilers team. But I think getting a taste of the big show, not to mention the paychecks, will make LD evenmore hungry to become a full time NHLer

    • Harry2

      It isn’t, IMO.

      I think LT believes more minutes = more development, and possibly that more minutes at your own competition level is better. Which, I think, is true – if you were going to keep Leon up for a whole season, that would be bad. Bad for his confidence, bad for his health (he may be big, but he’s 19 and playing against men).

      But spending half the season in NHL practices, with NHL training, your NHL team showing you proper nutrition, and against NHL competition, then going down to junior is probably no worse and possibly even better than just junior or just NHL.

  • Harry2

    This is great. It would be like playing midget AAA and treading water to go back to Bantam AAA. The game will feel so much slower to him that he can relax, think the game at new level and impose his will by manipulating the pace and play. This will be great development time. Looking forward to camp.

  • Harry2

    Lost Development Time? Jeepers are you guys screwed with left tightening nuts around here. The Oilers are the one team that can legitimately skirt the CBA rules. Leon is getting amazing experience and development time: he spent 1/2 a season on an AHL team at 18/19 years old.

    • Tikkanese

      Sorry it’s not case closed. The Raiders are a crap organization. He got a taste of the big leagues, the speed and strength of nhl players, got used to the travel, interacted with a lot of future teammates, and is now going to a strong team with a great chance at a long playoff run. Imo this is a great season of development for him.

    • Harry2

      A lot of top prospects in Europe play in men’s leagues from age 16 up , and most benefit greatly from that interaction with adults . Draisaitl will too , and it was certainly not a waste for him I believe , especially from a development perspective .

  • ubermiguel

    What concerns me more is there was no way this was part of the plan. If Kelowna doesn’t trade for him he stays in edm.

    Then listening to MacT talk about Nurse

    “When we drafted Darnell, I felt there were a couple of criteria I wanted met before he could play here,” MacTavish said. “I wanted him to be over 200 pounds and I wanted him to have a World Junior experience much like he had.

    “Now those criteria have been met and his development is pretty exciting for Oilers fans. There were a lot of Oilers fans in Toronto surprisingly and they were all excited to see him as he transitions into our team and what he’s going to mean to our team long term.”

    Unreal, he will be given a roster spot ASAP instead of seasoning in AHL.

    • Harry2

      I dobt think Nurse is being given anything. Hes been through two training camps and been sent two junior both times. I think when it comes to Nurse Mac has got it bang on.

    • ubermiguel

      Ugh. Nurse was a beast in the WJC…but that’s against boys; he needs to go to the AHL to play against men. If he rips it up for half a year we can call him up then. I don’t like this habit the Oilers have of rushing players.

      • Tikkanese

        I agree entirely. Good thing Ekbald was sent to the minors for conditioning. After all 18 year olds can’t handle this league.
        Oops, they didn’t send him down. Oops, he is handling it, quite well actually. People like you who base where a player should be strictly on his age and experience bother me. Perhaps we should wait til camp and see how he handles it.
        You may very well end up being right and I admit the Oilers do no appear to have a good track record with rookies. I do, however feel Nurse has earned the right to compete for an NHL position and should not be discriminated against because of his age.

        • ubermiguel

          I actually agree with you in principle; I was one of the guys saying Nuge earned an NHL spot his rookie season after his camp + 9 games. Specific to Nurse though his last cup of coffee showed some improvement was needed, and I discount his WJC performance because it was against boys. I think we just disagree where Nurse is at in his development. I think the Oilers err on the side of plugging players into NHL spots (and MacT’s words support this) when they should err on the side of more time in lower leagues.

        • Tikkanese

          So you named one Dman in the last how many years that jumped into the NHL at 18 and thrived. And he was a 1st overall pick.

          Saying a guy is ready for the NHL because of a strong few games in training camp against other teams prospects is as folly as assuming he is not ready because of his age.

          Sending Nurse to the AHL next year is the right move. Its the move that is made by WINNING TEAMS around the league year after year. That said, I fully expect him to make the team out of camp because oilers.

          • Randaman

            You are correct but who did he have beside him for a good portion of his rookie year?

            That’s right, Weber. Big difference than what we have to mentor a rookie Dman, no?

          • camdog

            Seth Jones…Cam Fowler…Jacob Trouba…Victor Hedman…Drew Doughty (though who would ever class LA as a WINNING team)…Alex Pietrangelo…Luke Schenn…

            Apparently more than one in the last how many years. Could go back further but that seems pointless.

            Not anywhere near a majority, but enough to illustrate that dumping players into the AHL based simply on their ages is soooooooo wrong.

    • Randaman

      Darnell has not yet reached 200 lbs. I believe they were listing him at 190 during the WJC.

      So I would say he is not ready yet as per the criteria set forth by MacT.

      I really hate this word but “patience” PLEASE!!

  • Just a Fan

    Unless exceptional talent, Centers, DMen and Goalies need more development time.

    I wush we had a mgmt group that understood this. Don’t repeat the same mistakes as this year, 1/2 season in the WHL on a winning team isn’t enough.

    Let Nurse and Draisaitl mature in the AHL next year. If it takes 1-2 years in the AHL, let it take that long. Same with Broissoit at 2-3 years.

    Let them all develop a chemistry together so that when they eventually come up, they can help elevate this team to something great.

    There are plenty of stop gaps available in trade or free aganecy that can at least get this team on the road to winning in the interim while these key assets mature. The goal isn’t just playoffs, its to win the Stanley cup.

    • Just a Fan

      You make these statement based on what?

      There is no (I mean zero) evidence that ‘developing’ in the minors is a good thing. The opposite is also true. There is no evidence that playing in the NHL is a better way to develop. There are simply too many variables involved. The fact is this is a theory that at best can be supported by anecdotal evidence and has been presented by the media as fact. Don’t believe everything you read.

        • Just a Fan

          You make my point. This is anecdotal. you are suggesting that Detroit has a great track record of developing players by not playing them in the NHL and although we can argue the validity of this point, you are excluding all of the other variables that contribute to a players success. There are many other organizations that do this any have not won a cup. There are also lots of examples of player who have come into the NHL and done very well. Some of them play on the Oilers while others play on successful teams. Boston won a cup. Was it because they kept players playing in lower level leagues or was it because they have the best defencemen in the world playing 30 minutes a night? There is no way to know. Every player is different. Don’t buy into the idea that there is a formula that we can apply. “Keep a player from playing in the NHL until they have played X years in the minors and they will be a better player” I say there is no proof. There is only talking heads giving us theory. Don’t believe everything the media tells you. They might have a different priority that you do.

    • wiseguy

      Lol! That goal was sold to us at the beginning of this infinibuild – the idea that we don’t just want to make the playoffs but to win the cup. After 9 years of a failed plan, the goal for fans is “just make the playoffs”. Guys that think the oilers will ever win the cup with this management group are delusional. They have to walk before they learn to run.

      • wiseguy

        Nobody was propping up this mgmt group and saying that it was capable of getting us there. Quite the opposite.

        What I was trying to convey is that if the Oilers rush the young players we are continuing the same cycle/strategy and will likely not improve (Pajaarvi, Gagner, Lander, Yakupov, the list goes on and on and on since 2006 – someone wants examples). THAT strategy of playing young players before they are ready in order to sell jerseys and selling the concept that they will somehow be the saviors to a losing franchise is what I think you’re referring to.

        What I’m suggesting is we find a way to win without having to gamble on 18-21 year olds on being hockey legends overnight. That they can develop in development leagues like the CHL and AHL while the Oilers can try and win now via trade and free agency and proper coaching.

    • wiseguy

      But but but there’s only one person working in the nhl that has more rings than Lowe. Holland must be successful only because he asks Lowe for advice daily.

    • wiseguy

      Oilers brass love the Detroit model.. Detroit has a great AHL team. In 2009 the Oilers got there AHL team. The development of players has been hindered for years because they did not have an AHL team. That decision was made by the last ownership group. It was Mr Katz and Mr Lowe who brought back the AHL team.

  • bazmagoo

    Still no Edmonton media questioning the decision not to allow Leon to play in the World Juniors! Germany was relegated to the B division for the next tournament, I’m sure Leon could have been a difference maker.

    I have no hesitation in saying that both Nurse and Leon will be rushed into the NHL again next season. Both would ideally be playing in the AHL for their development but we need to see how Lowe we can go.