Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has stood out at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton this weekend. Though the pace of the game, even at this level, can occasionally leave him looking a step behind, there’s no arguing with Draisaitl’s consistent production, his size, or his high-end ability to protect and dish the puck.
With 37 games of NHL experience under his belt, and nothing left to prove at the CHL level, there’s never been any doubt that Draisaitl was getting an invite to main camp. He’ll be going into his second training camp with the Oilers with significant momentum at his back, based on his play in the first two games in Penticton.
Pertinent questions still abound though, like will Draisaitl play at centre, or would the Oilers prefer to see what he can do on the wing? On Sunday, OilersNation.com caught up with the No. 3 pick from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft to discuss these questions and more.
OilersNation.com: What does it mean for this group of players to get off to a good start, and for you in particular?
Leon Draisaitl: Yeah it’s nice. We’re all competitors and we all want to win, so to go 2-0 to start out our games here is good for us and very good for the organization as well. I think we can be very happy so far.
OilersNation: What’s the environment been like up here, with the camaraderie and getting to know each other?
Draisaitl: Its been good. There have been a lot of changes among management, some new players and stuff like that, but there are still a few guys here I know – actually a lot of guys I guess – but you still get to meet new people. So far its been really good.
OilersNation: Anything you notice that’s different this year in comparison with last season?
Draisaitl: It’s hard to tell right now, the season hasn’t even started yet, the main camp hasn’t opened yet, so it’s pretty hard to say right now. Obviously the players we picked up were all very good, smart moves. So far so good!
OilersNation: There’s been a lot of chatter about whether you’ll be tried out at centre or along the wing. Do you think your game changes when you’re along the wall as opposed to being in the middle of the ice?
Draisaitl: Yeah I think a little bit. I think it always changes a <em> little bit</em>. But I’m still the same player, I have to be who I am, I’m not going to change my game just because I’m playing on the wing. It’s a different role, it’s a little bit of an adjustment, but wherever they plan to play me, I’ll be fine with that.
OilersNation: When you’re playing on the wall, especially considering your size, do you think there’s an element where it maybe might suit your game?
Draisaitl: For sure. I played the wing before and I never had problems with it. I think I’m a decent player along the boards, I can handle myself. That’s very important as a winger.
OilersNation: Obviously having Connor McDavid here has resulted in some energy outside of the team, is it evident in the locker room too?
Draisaitl: Yeah, I mean, he’s the No. 1 topic in the hockey world. How would there not be an excitement here, or within the organization and in this dressing room? There definitely is, and he deserves every bit of it.