Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Draisaitl signs and looks to be headed for regular duty in 2014-15


It may have taken longer than many across Oil Country would have hoped but as of this morning, Leon Draisaitl is officially a member of the Edmonton Oilers. The two sides finally agreed to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” on a three year entry level deal that will likely all but guarantee the former Prince Albert Raiders star centre starts his National Hockey League career in the Alberta capital this October. 

On a team that currently has a depth chart down the middle that features the names of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Arcobello, Boyd Gordon and Anton Lander, there is no question this organization will do the foolish thing and fast-track him into the pro game. Considering the Oilers lineup already has a number of young players in key positions, one would think adding an eighteen year old kid into the mix would not be high on their to-do-list. 

From the moment this organization decided to use the third overall pick of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft on the big German pivot, yours truly has been calling for him to be sent back to the Western Hockey League for another year of seasoning. While there are those who are in agreement with this line of thinking, there appear to be just as many who would be happy to see him start the year in Edmonton. 

Could head coach Dallas Eakins use an offensively gifted 210 pound centre to insert into his lineup on a nightly basis? He most certainly could but forcing feeding minutes to a guy who still has a lot to learn about the defensive side of the game, especially on a team that already has a plethora of players with the very same shortcomings, would frankly be a recipe for disaster. 

The decision to use their first round pick on Draisaitl has clearly forced Craig MacTavish and the rest of the management team to re-evaluate their approach to building their roster for the upcoming season and acquiring a legitimate first or second line centre is obviously not in the cards. Making such a move would mean committing a large sum of money and term to a player currently outside of the organization and the appetite to do so is simply not there. 

Now that may be all well and good but how does the GM’s unwillingness to plug an obvious hole in his lineup make it ok for the organization to screw around with the possible development of a kid like Draisaitl? Have many of you forgotten that one of the major concerns with this roster over the last couple of years has been its lack of NHL ready players? Sorry but getting even younger is not the way to go. 

If the plan is to just go with what they have and hope for the best, than they should simply say as much be done with it. Obviously no organization in their right mind would come out and tell their fan base to expect more of the same after missing the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons but sending Leon Draisaitl back to Prince Albert would accomplish the same exact thing. 

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