As expected, the Oilers ended up standing pat at the NHL Draft this year. The coveted D-man Aaron Ekblad ended up being selected by the FLorida Panthers, while Sam Reinhart went to the Buffalo Sabres. The Calgary Flames were doing the happy dance as the number one rated player in the draft fell to them in Sam Bennett. Obviously, this means that the Oilers selected Leon Draisaitl, with hopes of him being Malkin to Nuge’s Crosby one day. So did the Oilers make the right choice?
Leon Draisaitl is a big guy. And at only 18 years old, he may yet have time to add height and weight. He scored 105 points in Prince Albert with the Raiders but it’s a guessing game if that prowess will translate into NHL skill.
Over the summer, the Oilers need to make some crafty decisions. Draisaitl may not be ready for primetime come October; although the Oilers may not be able to keep him off the roster, one more season learning our game might prove wise. Depending on the moves the team makes over the summer, leaving Draisaitl in Junior one more season would only benefit his overall game. (My apologies for forgetting about the CHL agreement in regards to his status in my earlier version of this article–it had been a long day and was written on the fly.) It seems a great leap for a player to jump from a team in a small city in Northern Saskatchewan to playing second line centre for a struggling NHL franchise. It may be too much for him to bear out of the gate, so hopefully he can get at least a year to improve his hockey knowledge among the North American game.
If you’re like me, you are asking yourself if the Oilers just pulled a Pouliot. The Oilers famously selected Marc-Antoine Pouliot in the 2003 draft in the first round at number 22. The two players selected after him? Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards. Of course, our “frenemies” to the south in Calgary selected Sam Bennett, who may turn out to be the best player in the draft. If that SOB Murphy has anything to say about it, he will be the superstar of this draft class.
To be sure, the Oilers made a choice that made sense. The team DOES already have a lot of slight players with great skill. Draisaitl is big, he can score and make a solid pass, and he is entering the Oilers system on the upside of its rebuild.
Fire off a comment or two below and tell us what you think of the choice!