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Oilers’ Jeff Jackson talks Leon Draisaitl extension timeline

Edmonton Oilers Leon Draisaitl
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
20 days ago
Oilers’ CEO and interim GM Jeff Jackson spoke to the media ahead of the NHL Entry Draft, and a major focus in his availability revolved around the upcoming contract extension talks with Leon Draisaitl. Obviously, everyone in Edmonton wants to know the plan for the German superstar, but much like we heard yesterday in Draisaitl’s year-end presser, there weren’t many new details to share.
Kicking off the Draisaitl contract extension talk, Jackson stated that he’s well aware of how important Leon is to the team, the city, and his teammates.
“It’s obvious Leon Draisaitl is a top-five player in this league, and he’s been here for a long time, 10 years. Him and Connor and Nuge have played together for a long time, and he’s had a lot of success personally as a player, and our team has had success, especially this year.”
When it came to a timeline for extension talks getting started or when the Oilers plan to get this done, Jackson stated that nothing is written in black-and-white, nor is he concerned if they don’t get started immediately. Jackson advised that the Draisaitl camp likely wouldn’t want to get too far along in those talks until a new General Manager is in place because he’ll want to know what the plan is for the future before committing to the organization for a long time.
“To answer your question, I’ve alluded to this a few times: I don’t feel the pressure of any date to do this. He’s got another year on his contract, he likes playing in Edmonton, he likes this team, he likes the coach, the coaches. We need to sit down and talk about not only money but philosophically, where the team is going to go and what we’re trying to do. I mentioned earlier he needs to know who the new GM is before we really do that because he’s not going to commit long term and not know who the guy that is going to be with him day-to-day and on the planes and the hotels on the road and all that sort of stuff, and who’s managing the team day-to-day.”
Despite the need for a new manager — I loved hearing that Jackson has already reached out to several candidates since the Oilers didn’t even so much as interview anyone for the GM role the last two times they brought someone in — Edmonton’s new CEO remains confident that talks will kick off soon enough. I also appreciated that Jackson is well aware of how important Draisaitl is to the organization and that he won’t let the discussions linger for too long.
“I feel confident that we’ll sit down as soon as we can — obviously, it’s of critical importance to us — and if we don’t have something done by July 15th, we’ll keep working on it. We’ve got a year to work on it. We want to keep this group together, and it’s a priority to do that with Leon. I don’t feel like a date here the next two, three days, July 1st or anything like that, where we have to do something, or we’re putting ourselves in peril. I just don’t feel like that.”
The other obvious question on every Oilers fan’s mind is how the Draisaitl deal relates to Connor McDavid’s future extension a year from now. A lot of us assume that having Leon sign means McDavid will follow, and while Jackson confirmed that the two are incredibly tight, the Oilers have to walk these discussions one step at a time. Even so, Jackson admitted that there will be a time when both players are looped in on the team’s plans given how they’d be such a big part of whatever is to come.
“Their deals don’t line up. Connor’s got two more years. These guys are very close friends. They’re confidants of each other, they share lots. I know that because I was with Connor for years as his agent and know the deep relationship that Leon and Connor have. I think there’s probably going to be a point where we sit down with both of them and chat. Connor’s not going to be involved in a negotiation involving Leon, but philosophically when we get our new general manager, I’m sure we’re going to meet and talk about things, and not do it in a vacuum.”
Over the last handful of years, fans have often wondered if McDavid and Draisaitl are consulted on some of the organization’s decisions, and Jackson seemed to welcome the collaboration. He also acknowledged that both players need some downtime to reflect on the season, decompress, and take some personal time before being asked to get back into work mode.
“I think it’s important that we have the collaboration of our top two players, they know what the vision is and what our new GM is thinking. I sort of anticipate at some point, I’m not sure when that is, Connor’s got a wedding coming up in a month, there’s lots of planning, and I’m sure he’s going to decompress here for a little bit and the same with Leon, and I’ve got all the stuff I need to take care of culminating with hiring a new general manager. I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but they’re linked, but they’re also separate.”
In the end, I feel pretty confident that the Oilers are going to find a way to extend Draisaitl this summer, even if the language has been pretty vague over the last couple of days. Even though the timelines are murky and there’s still no GM in place, what’s clear to me is that Jeff Jackson understands very well what he’s got on his plate and how important it is to get everything done.
I’m also choosing to believe that he wouldn’t have taken the job as the Oilers’ CEO (and interim GM) had he not been looped in on what both guys are thinking. Given that he was Connor McDavid’s agent for most of his career, I’m pretty sure he would have an idea about where both players’ head are at given how close they are and how much they mean to the team. Maybe it’s my bias coming through — Hope Will Never Die, after all — but many of these quotes were very much in line with what I’d expect from a CEO who’s confident the job will get done.
Of course, there are no guarantees in life or the NHL, but if I’m reading between the lines correctly, it won’t be long until we start hearing some positive news about the moment on #29’s next deal. Am I wrong? I don’t think I’m wrong—at least, not this time anyway. As always, we wait.

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