— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 7, 2015
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 LEADING SCORERS, 2013-14 FINAL
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.
— Lauren Pullen (@Lauren_Global) January 7, 2015
FRAMING THE ISSUE
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
— Klaudia Van Emmerik (@KlaudiaGlobal) January 6, 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.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
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)