The World Cup of Hockey officially begins on September 17, and four Edmonton Oilers players will be participating in the tournament.
We profiled and predicted how Connor McDavid will stack up in Monday’s piece, and took a glance at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Tuesday. Now, we’ll take a look at Leon Draisaitl, who will be suiting up for Team Eurpoe.
Team Europe is comprised of players from its title continent who weren’t born in Sweden, Finland, Russia or the Czech Republic. This team is the oldest in the tournament, with an average age of 29.7. In comparison, Team North America is the youngest at 21.7.
Predicting performances for Team Europe players is difficult; more than half their players weren’t in Quebec for the team’s practices. They were returning from Olympic qualifying tournaments back in Europe, so there were no line rushes at the practices.
The first time Europe’s lines were disclosed was right before their pre-tournament game against Team North America last night.
Draisaitl was given the duty of third-line centre for the contest, and had Marian Gaborik and Nino Niederreiter on his wings to start. Europe looked to have tired legs early on or maybe it was that Team NA was that much faster; it seemed to be a combination of both, but in the end, Draisaitl was a bright spot for Europe as his line had some of the team’s best shifts.
The German forward will be using this tournament to absorb information from the veterans in the lineup and hopefully use it as a jumping off point to start the coming season strong. There will be a lot of expectations placed on Draisaitl at this short tournament, as he is one of the younger players on the roster.
Team Europe was doing a lot of line juggling as the game went on last night so I expect Draisaitl will have different wingers depending on who their opponent is.
As for tournament predictions I expect Draisaitl’s role with the team to grow as the tournament goes on and he gains trust from coach Ralph Kruger and he finishes with one goal and 3 assists in 4 games.