WHAT’S UP WITH LEON?

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?

STATS

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.

Leon Draisaitl

  • 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
    d-zone. Source

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.

PATIENCE

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

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.

We wait.

  • D

    Every adjustment takes time, and statistically, 20 to 30 games for Leon in the AHL is when a trend legitimately establishes itself. Leon had a good NHL pre-season, but as many have pointed out, pre-seasons are not indicative of an 82 game regular season.

  • Slapshot

    It is early but I am looking at the Condors poor record yet they have a lot of talent and I am starting to wonder about the strength of the coaching .I am sure Peter C is watching it closely.

  • YFC Prez

    QUIT RUSHING OUR PROSPECTS!!!

    WHY ARENT NURSE AND LEON IN THE NHL!!!!

    2 of the biggest complaints from ON citizens over the years. Amusing isn’t it?

    According to resident Condors analyst Scott Zerr, Draisaitl is way better than his stats. That’s good. I’m not the least bit worried about either of these 2. Chiarelli is handling them right.

  • Zamboni Driver

    In other, real NHL cities, teenagers (and early 20-somethings) start in the minors…unless they’re named Crosby, MacKinnon, McDavid.

    That’s where they should stay.

    Play against men. Men bigger than you and just as fast (but not as skilled).

    When you’re ready, you’re ready.

    It’s called an NHL team run by people who know what they’re doing – and a GM who has the moron owner on call block.

    • pkam

      Did you even check NHL.com before making your comment?

      In the top 10 picks in 2013, not including MacKinnon, 6 of the other 9 teams started their pick in NHL right away. These cities includes Florida (Barkov), Nashville (Jones), Carolina (Lindholm), Calgary (Monahan), Buffalo (Ristolainen), Dallas (Nichushkin). The 3 teams that didn’t start their top 10 pick are Tampa, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

      In 2010, Boston started Seguin, Carolina started Skinner, Atlanta started Burmistrov, and Anaheim started Fowler (12th overall).

      In 2011, Colorado started Landeskog, New Jersey started Larsson, and Philly started Couturier.

      LOL. Looks like half of the teams are not in NHL cities.

        • pkam

          My comment is a response to a comment by Zamboni Driver, In case you didn’t read what Zamboni Driver wrote, here it is:

          ‘In other, real NHL cities, teenagers (and early 20-somethings) start in the minors…unless they’re named Crosby, MacKinnon, McDavid.’

          So is any of these players name Crosby, MacKinnon, McDavid?

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      Someone who gets it. Rare amongst OilerNation commenters.

      I’m going to blow a few minds here: Nurse and Draisatl may need additional time in the AHL beyond this season, we just don’t know yet.

  • camdog

    Their both playing where they should be and I’m grateful for that.

    Now.., about that whole Jultz and Fayne being in the top 4 of the oilers defence thing…. What’s the plan on that?

  • camdog

    LD is bottom 10 in the entire AHL for +/- and playing with solid veteran AHL forwards. It’s not a reason for concern yet, however too those clamouring for him to come up to the big club, he’s not ready.

  • Jordan88

    I like that Jujhar Khaira is playing wing, for the most part. He has a good chance of being an NHLer at that position, third or fourth line. He has had a good start this season.

    Gerry Fleming always has Jujhar on the ice when the game is on the line, great for his growth. Jujhar is on the Oilers’ radar. I can see Jujhar playing a few games for the Oilers late in the season.

  • Jordan88

    Remember when people said McDavid was a bust when he didn’t score in his first game and Eichel did.

    These are the same people saying Draisaitil is over rated.

    Give the KID time.

    Draisaitil has all the makings of a skilled large two way center something you cannot have enough of in this league.

    Having him and potential Pronger 2.0 down on the farm is a really nice problem to have.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      If that’s what you ‘see’, you need to lay off the acid.

      Those players aren’t in the same universe, let alone ballpark.

      As it stands now, Leon is already better than Magnus.

      Smarten up!

      • S cottV

        I would love to agree with you… but I have yet to see anything to change my mind… It could be one of those ‘give him time to develop’ type things… But as of right now today, Paajarvi is the better player! The stats guys will hate to agree with me because common sense tells you Drai is the better ‘prospect’…. But what good is a prospect? Just a roll in the dark

      • Reg Dunlop

        So, you admit that Leon lacks MPS’ wheels while he has the ability to shield the puck better, due most likely to the extra 2 lbs he carries. Anyone buying the crap that Oiler shills try to sell? You know the story; Leon is huge and skilled, a great skater because he won the fastest skater competition in training camp blah blah blah. Fact is, Leon is listed as 10 lbs heavier than Hall, 15 lbs heavier than McDavid and the same height. Anyone think his skating speed and mobility is in the same vicinity?

        If you can skate you can play in today’s NHL. Look at Chimera. You can’t skate you struggle. Look at Leon. He is young and may develop NHL speed and agility, that’s why he is in the minors. He should stay there this year and if there is no improvement he should be shopped while the memory of his Jr. success is still fresh.

        • Oilerz4life

          I didn’t admit to or say any of the things you are saying, YOU have that opinion (which you are entitled to) and I respect that, but not everybody has to share that outlook. I don’t.

          When I saw Draisaitl play in Penticton he was dominant. He has a bunch of potential and I think he needs some time to develop. Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll stagnate, I hope not. But, Draisaitl wasn’t a force in the WHL and MVP in the Memorial Cup for no good reason.

          I think there are some short sighted fans who don’t have any faith in prospects or development and don’t have the patience or understanding, that not every player is the same or matures at the same pace.

        • TRAIN#97

          Hmmm. I see Leon as more of a Joe Thorton. Given time he will develop that way. Probably not as gifted, but into the same type of playmaker. Remember Boston traded him away for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. I still think San Jose won the trade.

  • YFC Prez

    He’s probably P.O.d that idiots like Purcell are getting NHL time while he did everything last year and in training camp this year to show he should be playing with the Oilers NOW. Even Nurse should be playing ahead of the likes of Schultz or ANYONE of the current D.
    Devlopement schmellement,,,these guys are ready to come up and kickass and take names NOW! Why wait,,,why torture fans?! My dogs think I’m crazy from yelling at Schultz and Ference so much.

    • YFC Prez

      It’s not a question of who on the oilers roster Leon and Darnell are currently better than. The question is ” How do we develop both of these kids so that they will have the best chance of meeting their potential and leading the oilers to victory for years “.

      If that path to success for these 2 brilliant players lies in the AHL for now then that’s where they need to play until they iron all the wrinkles out of their game.

      I’ve said it probably 100 times now. A big skilled top 6 forward and potential franchise D-man are parts the oilers have missed since they blew it up 6 years ago. These 2 players are so important impatience and team need can’t be detrimental to their development. They need to be brought along right.

      • YFC Prez

        Normally I could get on board with developing more then bringing them up, But we need good players today. Not like they can’t figure it out as they go. Its hockey after all, not brain surgery.

  • Randaman

    Funny how the word “patience” is being met with a positive response now.

    Good to see proper management has calmed the waters and are doing things right.

    Thanks Bob, Peter & Todd!!

  • Craig1981

    I’m sure if he doesn’t turn into a top 6 forward people will say the Oilers ruined him for those 37 games in the NHL……totally ignoring his MVP performance and his 53 points in 32 games, later that year

  • YFC Prez

    If you listen to the pizza eating clown on Ched he doesn’t seem to think Draisalt should even be in the minors. Give the kid a year in the AHL he will be a better player for it long term. He didn’t impress last year in NHL and was awful away from the puck in preseason.

  • YFC Prez

    Of course Draisatl’s offense is down.

    He is LEARNING to play both ends of the ice and that means sacrificing some offense at the expense of defense.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    LT, at what point would you bring him up? Based on Oiler needs or based on his play? I personally would leave him for the whole season unless he starts scoring at a ppg pace.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    If you were him and suddenly your line mates are career AHL players and you were drafted 3rd over all , how would,you feel.
    Yes he is there to learn, watching the Oilers last night, are you telling me the big team to a man is better than him.
    How is Purcell on this team and he is not, it’s a real shame. It feels like the Oilers are willing to waste a year, both he and Nurse will be up , but by then the season will be long gone.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      Replacing the 10 minutes of icetime that Teddy gets is not good use of Leon’s time. He’s playing north of 20 minutes a night in the A. He’s learning far more than limited icetime against equivalent opponents.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Another blown pick. Just another average sized player by todays standards. Plays soft and doesn’t have NHL legs. A death blow in todays game. It’s no surprise he’s struggling mightily in the AHL.

    He might be adequate if he played mad all the time, but good luck getting him to play with that mindset on a permanent basis. Trade him before his value dwindles even further.

    It’s been proven now the former administration didn’t have a clue how to run an NHL hockey team.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      He is 5 games into his draft+2 year. It’s a little early to consider him a bust. If he is in the AHL draft+4, then you may have something. Having prospects develop in the AHL is what good teams do with prospects not named “McDavid”.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Over a third of the players you mentioned have since spent time in the AHL. But you do have a point regarding the number of first rounders who are earning regular ice time in the NHL since their draft year.

  • Randaman

    The McDavid lottery win has to have changed everything when it comes to the long term vision of the Oilers.

    I like Leon. He’s big, strong, talented, etc.

    We can’t dismiss the trade suggestions because we like somebody. It seems to me that most people on here fall in love with every player that walks up on the stage after being picked. I get this and wish we could keep them all but we are building a team here and we need help in many areas.

    I will bet dollars to donuts that Peter is exploring all options and will do what is best for the overall picture.

    We NEED a #1/2 D in the worst way.

    If Nashville is willing to part with Jones for Leon and a pick or two, you have to make that deal

    Big picture people

  • S cottV

    Top end draft guys have no problem breaking in at the NHL level – particularly if physicality is not an issue.

    Oilers just have too many young players and a few over paid veterans that are blocking things for LD and Nurse.

    Otherwise – both – and in particular LD could and should be playing in the NHL.

    AHL seasoning is over rated for elite top draft guys.

    LD is an elite guy and may have a bigger future up side than Hall, RNH and Yak. Never sent these guys to the AHL, except during the lockout.

    Last year he did fine, considering the s show surrounding him. Good they sent him back – mostly because of the s show and because he could go to a jr contender.

    Hope they clear some roster spots via trade – asap, to get both LD and Nurse going.

    I know LD can handle it. If Nurse plays within himself – I think he would be fine as well.

  • S cottV

    I don’t know anyone who can play pro hockey while sucking their thumb. This trip to Bakersfield will toughen Drai up. By the time he stops sulking and re-focuses he will come up to the Oil ready to respond to the challenge. The sense of self-entitlement that has prevailed among the high draft picks on the Oil is clearly not acceptable to the current management regime.

    Get over it Leon. Your time is coming. No one cares about what you did in junior or the Memorial Cup. It is what you do today that will dictate what you will be doing tomorrow and where you will be doing it.