I’ve already gone on record, as saying that if Leon Draisaitl comes into camp this fall and earns the 3C spot on the Oilers, the club should keep him, and not send the big German kid back to junior. The two key statements in that sentence are “if”, and “3C”.
First, Draisaitl needs to earn that spot. Second, if that happens, Dallas Eakins needs to protect this kid much like he did Oscar Klefbom, in his NHL debut. That means 3rd line minutes, favorable zone starts, and responsible, veteran line-mates on both flanks. That is a situation where Leon Draisaitl would have a very good chance at success. But to be clear, that cannot happen with the existing Oilers roster. This team cannot head into October with Mark Arcobello or Anton Lander at 2C. It made sense for Craig MacTavish to sign both as insurance, but if they are being counted on as anything for than 13th men this season, it will be a long year…again.
Who, then? Here are the hits and misses for the Oilers brass, as we head into Free Agency.
Paul Stastny. To those who say that signing Stastny would be a mistake because, “we only need a bridge player to get us to the glory years of Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl”, I ask “seriously”? You’d turn down a 28 year old, 2-way center in his prime over term, and gamble on Draisaitl? Eight years, friends. Eight. Years. I’m hearing the Oilers have offered him a 6-year deal just south of $50m. Cross your fingers.
Mikhail Grabovski. The problem with the Stastny theory is that he will have many suitors. Grabovski won’t. He’s a couple years older, has a little baggage, and as a result…won’t command quite the same dollars or term. But he’s gritty and has tantalizing up-side. Visualize the left-handed Grabovski with the right-handed Nail Yakupov, on one line, and Draisaitl, Perron and Purcell on another.
Olli Jokinen. I grudgingly put forward this option. He’s old (35), and 8-9 years past his prime NHL production. I would be just fine with Olli as the Oiler’s 3C. But that’s not what the Oilers need. I know the Oilers have been “kicking his tires”, but I choose to believe that’s if they don’t get Stastny OR Grabovski. And if that’s the case, then I’d be “ok” with him.
David Legwand. I put him in the same category as Jokinen. He’d be fine, but a bridge option at best. He’s old (33), and his peak NHL season in terms of production was 9 years ago. And when I saw him this year, he had lost a step. And his good reputation may fetch bigger dollars than his skill set should dictate.
Matthieu Perreault? Too small. If you wanted this, you should have kept Sam Gagner. Next.
Dave Bolland? Wants the dollars and term that only Stastny deserves. Don’t do it, MacT.
Derek Roy. See Matthieu Perreault.
Michal Handzus. Hahahahaha.