The Edmonton Oilers have a versatile player in Leon Draisaitl. Not only is he a talented, high-scoring winger, but he has also proven that he can carry his own line as a centre.
Edmonton was expecting him to make the jump to second-line centre this year, but given their current depth situation, he has started the year on the top line RW alongside Patrick Maroon and Connor McDavid. And moving forward, that is the way it should remain.
Draisaitl a Winger
First off, there is no denying the dynamic on the top line between McDavid and Draisaitl. Last season, they sat atop the league and led in scoring among all duos, combining for 177 points. In the Oilers’ season opener against Calgary, they put up five points together: a McDavid hat-trick accompanied by two Draisaitl helpers.
Given their chemistry and synergy on that top line, they can produce plenty of scoring and also log a lot of ice time, meaning that Edmonton is well-able to have scorers on the ice as often as possible. Not only that, they bounce off each other and work well together, and both benefit greatly from each other’s presence. With that being said, it would be wise not to separate them and to not fix what isn’t broken.
Prior to the year, there was concern that Edmonton lost more scoring with Jordan Eberle gone, and that they’d have to move Draisaitl to fill that void on offence. However, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has shown that he is more than capable of putting up scoring and that he has the potential to rebound and put up the numbers he is capable of producing. Not only that, Kailer Yamamoto has shown great chemistry with Nugent-Hopkins through the preseason, and with Jussi Jokinen joining the team, there should be no problem getting more production out of the second line.
In addition, if Draisaitl stays on the top line, the centre depth will remain in balance. Nugent-Hopkins can remain a top-six centre, and Ryan Strome can be the third-line centre and transition to the team in his more comfortable position down the middle.
Given Edmonton’s situation to start the year, having Draisaitl on the wing should not pose a problem.