Dr. Drai…

The Oilers have had one of the most surprising and successful off-seasons of any NHL team in recent memory, and they desperately needed it if they hoped to resemble a competitive NHL team on the ice in 2015/2016. Even though the Kelowna Rockets lost the Memorial Cup in overtime, Oilers draft pick, third overall in 2014, Leon Draisaitl was named tournament MVP, which was another positive sign for the Oilers organization.

Draisaitl led the tournament in goals and points with 4-3-7 in five
games. He was the first player since 2002 to be named MVP while playing for the losing team.

The Memorial Cup began in 1919.

From 1919-1924 it was a best of two series decided by total goals. It moved  to a best-of-three format in 1925, in 1938 was increased to best-of-five and in 1943 it become a best-of-seven, until 1971.

The final series in 1971 was almost cancelled because the then-WCHL (Western Canada Hockey League) was allowed to play. At the time, the WCHL used more over-age players than the other junior leagues and they received a larger travel allowance. After some arguing they finally agreed to a best-of-three final between the Quebec Remparts and Edmonton Oil Kings. Quebec won the series 2-0.

In 1972 the Memorial Cup became a double round-robin tournament between
the champion of the three leagues. They played each other twice and then the top-two teams played in a single game championship. This was also the first year they handed out MVP honours.

In 1983 they added a fourth team, the host team, and that format remains.

In the 44 years they’ve awarded a tournament MVP a member of the losing team has won the MVP eight times.

2015: Draisaitl, Kelowna Rockets

2002: Danny Groulx, Victoriaville Tigres

1998: Chris Madden, Guelph Storm

1996: Cameron Mann, Peterborough Petes

1982: Sean McKenna, Sherbrooke Castors

1979: Bart Hunter, Brandon Wheat Kings

1975: Barry Smith, New Westminster Bruins

1972: Richard Brodeur, Cornwall Royals

Brodeur had a successful WHA career and was inducted into the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010. After five years in the WHA, he spent three seasons in the NHL with Vancouver and took them to the Cup final in 1982.

McKenna played 414 NHL games and scored 20 goals twice as a Buffalo Sabre.

Smith played 114 games in the NHL.

Mann played 93 NHL games.

Hunter, Madden and Groulx never played in the NHL.

Draisaitl has a chance to become the best of this bunch. He dominated much of the tournament, and even in games where he didn’t produce points he controlled the play and generated many chances.

He still needs to improve his pace of play, not his skating, but playing quicker more regularly. His size, vision and passing abilities are NHL ready, but will he make the Oilers’ opening night roster?

I believe he will be in the mix, but if he makes the team on opening night, I see him starting on the wing.

The good news for Draisaitl and the fans is that he won’t be guaranteed a spot on the team like last year. “I don’t want to guarantee any spots to anybody,” Chiarelli said in an interview with Bob Stauffer.

Thank gawd. Competition is good, and no newcomer should be handed a spot, they should earn it. If Draisaitl, and others, earns a spot in camp, then the Oilers should be a better team. The same goes for Darnell Nurse. If they prove they are NHL-ready then keep them. If not, they can develop nicely in the AHL.

The advantage Draisailt possesses is he has size to match his skill. The Oilers need to inject some skilled, size in their lineup and whether that happens this year or in 2016/2017, having a skilled 215-220 forward like Draisaitl will be a great addition.

I’m not in the “trade Draisaitl” camp. I’m a fan of his skill and his size and his ability to control the play down low. I believe he will be an excellent player and as he matures, plays quicker and gets stronger, he will be a force.

The arrival of Connor McDavid will allow Draisaitl to develop away from the spotlight. Very few #3 overall picks have that luxury, and based on his play in the WHL regular season and playoffs, it would be foolish to believe he won’t become a solid, if not great, NHL player.

QUICK HITS…

  • “I place a certain level of emphasis on size, a certain level of emphasis on grit, and we don’t dismiss skill.” Peter Chiarelli. Thank you Mr. Chiarelli. Finally a GM who recognizes the need for some diversity within the Oilers top-nine.
  • I doubt it surprised anyone when Chiarelli said he’d be interested in trading the #16, #33 or #57 pick, but I really liked what he said he was expecting in return.

“I certainly would look at moving any of those picks for… something
that would help us right now, but also that could grow with our
organization, so relatively speaking a younger player. It’s good to
have a lot of picks and develop players, but we also want to hit the
ground running with some more game-ready players. Discussions are
picking up, they’ll continue to be ongoing until the draft, they might
subside a little bit, and then pick up again around
the free agency date.”

  • Chiarelli will not trade one of those picks for a stop-gap veteran. He wants a player who is
    NHL-ready, but also a player who will be a valuable asset in the future as
    well. Trading the #16 pick for a 30+ year old player doesn’t make any
    sense to me.

  • I didn’t know much about lacrosse until the Rush came to town. When I introduced myself to owner Bruce Urban at their inaugural press conference I said, “Hello, I’m Jason Gregor and I’ll be your play-by-play guy.” He was a bit surprised, but I proceeded to tell him why I felt I’d be a good fit and why lacrosse needed to be on radio. I was offered the job six weeks later. I love the pace of the game. It rarely stops. I’ll be calling this Friday’s game on Friday on TSN, and I hope for lacrosse fans it isn’t the last Rush game in Edmonton. Sadly, that is a very realistic possibility.
  • Joel Quenneville will try to become the 10th coach in NHL history to win three Stanley Cups. Scotty Bowman (9), Toe Blake (8), Hap Day (5), Dick Irvin Sr, Punch Imlach, Al Arbour, Glen Sather (4) and Tommy Ivan, Jack Adams (3) are the others. I’ll take the Hawks in six.
  • Marco Roy, the Oilers second round pick in 2013, will not return to the draft after the Oilers elected not to sign him. He turned 20 in November, so he is a UFA. I’d also be surprised if a team drafted Jackson Houck, Oilers fourth round pick in 2013. ***Edit. I was told Roy is too old, but when I read this article on NHL.com it seems he might be eligible. Do you interpret the same? 

Recently by Jason Gregor:    

    • S cottV

      I would not be surprised in 3 years, that McD and LD are 1 and 2C and that it’s RNH that goes as part of an exchange for a top d man or goalie.

      We are not going to be able to keep everyone and you don’t get something for nothing.

      You want a big C within your top 2 lines and a McD / RNH tandem doesn’t provide that kind of punch.

    • Zarny

      @Dr. Harry Weiner

      I haven’t seen a single comment suggesting Draisaitl should be traded for a 30 y/o plow horse.

      OEL? Josi? Jones? Sure. Dion Phaneuf? Nope, I’ve never seen it suggested.

      So relax. There are maybe 15 D in the entire league the Oilers might consider trading Draisaitl for and 13 have zero chance of being available.

    • Spaceman Spiff

      Good article, Jason, but a quick correction on Richard Brodeur.

      King Richard’s career was considerably longer than you note. He played seven seasons (spanning seven years) in the WHA and eight full seasons in the NHL, mostly in Vancouver.

      I grew up an Oiler fan but Brodeur was my favourite goalie as a kid.

      (Aside: In minor hockey, I was a goaltender and to emulate King Richard, I wore the same big Jofa helmet he used. The helmet, the infamous “garbage-can” Jofa that Petr Klima helmet also wore, was a great helmet for goalies because it could absorb puck-blows really well and had the best protection for the ears).

      Anyway, all of the above is very nitpicky and very off-subject, but there you go!