Leon Draisaitl willing to do whatever it takes, including play the wing

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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.
  • Train#97

    ” Though the pace of the game, even at this level, can occasionally leave him looking a step behind”.

    Thank you. I have been saying this all along but OilerNation either doesn’t seem to see it. Or they just don’t want to admit it. Just because he can get ‘er going skating laps does not mean he can keep up within a game. Needing to stop and start with quick changes of direction is his enemy.

  • oilbaron

    How can you not but like this guy! I have been hoping like crazy for him to become a house hold name in Edmonton since day one. He just comes across as smooth as smooth as could be.

    Whatever gaps he may still have, he will undoubtedly become (quicker than later) an integral part of this team. He is big, strong, good hands and has that quiet spirit of determination. He comes across as a team type of person with a personal set of standards.

    AHL or NHL? As stated by another poster, our coaching staff has the task of making that decision.

  • Cape Breton Oilers

    This comment will probably get trashed by most, but I can’t help but think that the basis of a Draisaitl for Seth Jones trade would make a lot of sense for both the Oilers, and the Preds. Our biggest glaring need is a 1RHD which will fit in with our young core. To facilitate such a transaction, I think it would make most sense to trade from our greatest abundance, which would be talented young forwards. From the Preds perspective, their biggest need is for a highly skilled young center, and I think it would make most sense for them to trade from their abundance of talented defenseman. Draisaitl is only 1 year younger than Jones, and they were taken 3rd and 4th overall respectively. It would suck to have to give up Draisaitl, but you need to give in order to get, and imagine a future defence of Nurse and Jones, with Klefbom and Sekera on the second pairing. It’s certainly tempting.

    • NJ

      I don’t know why that would be trashed, however maybe there’s a different package where we don’t have to give up “this” guy. Drai fits a profile that we lack in the Oil and aren’t likely to get unless some big pieces get moved. He’s BIG. In order to stop the cycle in the West, you need BIG.

      I love Jones and learning under Weber is better than learning almost anywhere I would say. I love the player. I would much rather give up a Yakupov who breaks out for 15 goals through 40 games say, plus a prospect to get Jones instead of Drai only because of the size. IF Hall McDavid and Nuge are guaranteed to stay, then 3 of your top 6 aren’t big guys. Move Draisaitl in to the top 6 and if you say Eberle stays with Pouliot, we lack size. :/

      If it’s me, probably I move Eberle for Jones + if Nashville goes for it. Heck I’d do it straight up and trust and HOPE TO GOD that Yak breaks out like a mo fo and Drai moves up and becomes the beast we want him to be.

      Top 6 Hall McDavid Yak, Pouliot Nuge Yak.

      Nurse Jones
      Sekara Reinhart
      Fayne Klef

      Or something. *shrug*

    • NJ

      I’d have mixed emotions if that happened. I like them both.

      I don’t think PC would do it because Klefbom, Reinhart, Nurse, are all slotted pretty high. I think it would be best to get a veteran in there.

      • NJ

        Who says? A huge center with first line potential? I bet that gets you Seth Jones, or similar. It’s just that you have to find a team that needs the center as bad as you need the D man. However I offer Eberle and keep the depth down the middle…

  • Train#97

    When the Canucks top headline was ‘we gave McDavid a big hit,’ and the Flames headline was ‘well, we were 2-0 up at the end of the first,’ it makes me proud to be an Oilers’ fan. Add to that Nurse’s scrap with Anderson and Draisaitl’s really good showing, all in all it’s been a good tourney. Of course 14 goals for always helps. Optimism is at it’s peak for our team, and rightly so. We have a season well worth looking forward to.

  • CofC

    I wonder if anyone will ever have the sense to ask hockey questions during an interview and have the wherewithal to avoid asking serious, competitive players like Draisaitl ridiculous questions like whether McDavid energizes the locker room? Are you freakin’ serious? They’re not bloody cheerleaders for crying out loud! Why not ask if they”ve gotten McDavid’s autograph too?!

    McDavid’s awesome, but he’s one part of the team; Please respect the team.

    • Train#97

      They have asked all the questions 100 times over. This is not the Oilers or players or fans creating this about McDavid it is THE MEDIA.

      This is more than Crosby got. Let the kid play hockey

  • YakCity1039

    MVP at the Memorial and there are fans trying to start trade rumors? Gads let the guy go out and play hockey. He will make the Oilers or the Condors a better team no matter where he shakes out at camp.

    We got Sekera and Reinhart and Talbot for draft picks and we still have the best prospect team in Western Canada. Why trade potentially great forwards if we can still acquire and groom young talent?

    Let’s finish off the Jets with another great team effort and a lot of goal scoring. The first two games from Penticton were very entertaining and it would be great to go 3 -0 !!

    See you at the Bears vs Rookies.

  • paul wodehouse

    …OldTimeOilersFan

    the step behind stuff is obvious…Leon AIN’T fleet of foot but learning how to be a power forward doesn’t require a super speedster…Drance is a leaf fan too and I wonder why he doesn’t appear to be in London with the eastern bunch…leafs played Pitt tonite at Bud Gardens…wtf Thomas …you take the wrong plane or r u writing from highlight feeds? maybe the phone?

    CBO…this Drance piece was headlined with how Leon would be willing to do anything, including playing wing to make this team and Drance thinks trading him ‘as a highly skilled young centre’ (which he’s not just yet) for Seth freaking Jones?…Jones isn’t going anywhere unless Nurse is headed to the Preds …Jones plays with that other future HOFer and replaced the 600+ game Ryan Suter as a rookie…less prattle TD…

  • Kevwan

    Really enjoying all the games in Penticton.

    Just wondering if Draisaitl’s best chance to make the team is as a winger why not play him there at the Young Stars? At least give him some time on the wing.

  • Train#97

    too much trade talk. be real, no possible way of prying jones from Nashville unless the offering is for ebs a dman AND a first. I personally would offer that up for set jones but I also would have offered yak to boston to land Hamilton. that miss should sting for awhile.
    the big bodied stud veteran this team needs to mentor the youth and anchor us, is a burns, big buck or seabrook. the cost would be the same as a seth jones (1 pick, prospect, established player) so, when do we go all-in? when is the decision made to trade our future picks and prospects for the only thing we need (assuming Talbot is the goalie we deserve) in a STUD RH DMAN?

    • Train#97

      I think it’s been stated time and time again that Chiarelli is not going to pull the trigger on a big trade until he sees exactly what he has in this team!
      He has not had a chance to assess what he has with this group and exactly what he needs.
      Can’t understand why we keep having this conversation!

  • grumpyKoala

    Hey nation! I come here for my daily dose of coper & blue almost every days since a couple of years. I was reading this blog since day -40 when all was here was a blank page and the domain avalible to buy. I could have buy it but I remain respectous of the big sheme so you guys can make it a hell more interesting to follow hockey in the rest of canada.

    So totaly unrelated question (sorry to highjack the post)

    I live in montreal and surrounded by stubborn fans who refuse to see the Oilers superiority, they think gretzky was a fluke and jusus price is the new born savior of the entire hockey universe.

    Knowing my provider dosent have SNOilers or SNWest as option. (SNHD, SN360 SNOne are ) and I like to avoid center ice.

    What my option?

    Ps
    I dont want to move to Edm… Calgary is to close and my wife is affraid we get chicken pox.

    • Train#97

      Search where you can buy an android box I bought one for $ 260 and I get live streaming of everything including hockey, baseball, football. The box I bought is called MINIX and it works awesome. Internet connection must be high speed, but it works great. Every show that’s ever been on tv you can find!!