— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) October 6, 2015
Leon Draisaitl is not setting the AHL on fire. As a former No. 3 overall selection, North America’s highest minor league is not supposed to offer much of a hurdle for a lottery selection. What’s going on with Leon?
The fine site CHL stats has an AHL component here and estimates all number of things, including NHL equivalencies and time-on-ice. Let’s have a look at what it says about Leon. Source.
- Boxcar numbers: 5GP, 0-1-1
- Plus/minus: -6
- Pims: 4
- Shots on goal: 10
- NHL equivalency: 7 points
- Estimated Time-on-Ice: 26:15 per game
- Quality of Team: No.1 center
- Quality of Competition: No. 1 center
Based on the description, this looks really good in terms of deployment. A word of caution on the TOI estimate, these are early days and I’d suggest the actual TOI total is far less. It’s a useful number though, in that we can be sure Leon is getting substantial ice time.
WHAT THE HELL?
Based on what I’m reading, Leon’s performances are far better than the boxcars. An example:
David Staples, Cult of Hockey: Leon Draisaitl. He’s had one great game, one mediocre one and two good
ones. He leads the team with 6.3 major contributions to scoring chances
per game, even as he’s got just 1 point in 4 games. The scoring will
pick up, as his passing is as strong as ever. Needs to assert himself
more, play with more confidence and with a bit more of an edge on
defence. Must always make sure he’s on the right side of his man in the
These are adjustment areas, as Leon (unlike Darnell Nurse) hasn’t played in the AHL. Despite significant NHL experience, years of experience watching prospects develop in the American League tells us that the less structured feel of it can be difficult for substantial talents.
Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts contained an item that offers us some insight into what the Oilers feel about the value of AHL time for Draisaitl:
Friedman: 8. Before Edmonton lifted the weight of the world off
its shoulders with weekend victories in Calgary and Vancouver, GM Peter
Chiarelli said the 0-4 start would not mean rushing Darnell Nurse (or Leon Draisaitl) to the NHL. “We have a plan, and we are going to stick to it,” he said. Source
One assumes the minor league seasoning involves Leon playing in situations where he needs to develop his skill set—that might include faceoffs, checking, positioning and playing a complementary role. There’s no sin in that, in fact the Oilers will be doing themselves an enormous favor by making sure Leon Draisaitl plays a complete game before coming to the NHL full time.
THIS SEASON IN BAKERSFIELD
Hamilton – Draisaitl – Ford
Khaira – Yakimov – Miller
Christoffer – McRae – Platzer
Moroz – Winquist – Kessy
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) October 24, 2015
It’s all on Leon, save for the time on ice and strength of linemates. If the Bakersfield coaching staff is giving Leon garbage linemates and little TOI, they should be fired. Immediately. That said, the anecdotal evidence so far (it’s all we have and I’m happy for it) suggests Draisaitl is getting time and chances. It’s always easier to blame others, but this is Leon’s career and it’s his job to play well enough to be seen above Edmonton’s prospect event horizon.