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Report: Oilers could send 1st-rounder Draisaitl to Europe

Aug 14, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT

Leon Draisaitl Getty Images

Fitting that on Edmonton Oilers day, an interesting report surfaced about their 2014 first-round pick, Leon Draisaitl.

According to TSN 1260 radio’s Dean Millard, there are rumbling that should Draisaitl — the third overall selection at the draft — not make the NHL club, he’ll possibly be sent to play in Europe, rather than return to Canadian junior hockey with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders.

More, per the Edmonton Journal:

“I’ll tell you what I’ve heard from a couple of people: that the Oilers have basically given Leon Draisaitl a roster spot,” Millard said on Wednesday while guest-hosting the Dave Jamieson show. “If for some reason Leon Draisaitl isn’t good enough to play on the Oilers, I have been told by a couple of sources that he’s not going back to Prince Albert, that if for some reason he doesn’t make the Oilers he’ll be going to Europe.”

Draisaitl, 18, was born and raised in Germany and played for Jungadler Mannheim in the German Development League. He’s since spent the last two seasons with Prince Albert and while most CHL draftees that don’t make the NHL go back to their respective junior clubs, going to Europe is not unheard of. Edmonton’s 2012 first-rounder, Nail Yakupov, played with KHL club Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk during the lockout rather than re-join his OHL club in Sarnia.

As you can guess, the Draisaitl situation is multi-faceted. He’s stated on numerous occasions his focus is to make the Oilers and, at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, has the size to play at the NHL level. But the Oilers have been burned by rushing prospects before, and reversed course last year by sending first-rounder Darnell Nurse back for another year with OHL Sault Ste. Marie.

If they choose the same path with Draisaitl, the question becomes: Where’s the best place for him to play?

In Europe, he’d be playing against professionals and (theoretically) bigger, stronger and more experienced individuals. But with Prince Albert, Draisaitl would be working under a former NHL head coach (ex-Ottawa bench boss Cory Clouston) and be subjected to a longer season (Draisaitl played 64 games last year for the Raiders; the typical European league regular season is around 55.)

It’s an interesting decision but if Draisaitl has his way, there won’t be any conversation when the season opens in October.

“I want to make this team this year. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I think I know what it takes to be an NHL player. I’ve been working extremely hard this summer,” Draisaitl said after signing his entry-level deal, per NHL.com. “It’s nice to be around people who are working with this organization, the athletic trainers and all these people. It definitely makes you feel that you’re part of this organization.”

  1. atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    This is where the NHL-CHL agreement is unfortunate, Draisaitl would likely be best served, by the Oilers and himself playing in the AHL if he doesn’t make the NHL team, however due to the agreement he can’t. Perhaps there should be some sort of exception in place where an NHL team can once every few years choose to have one eligible player sent to the AHL instead of junior? That way he’s available to go back to the NHL if his game proves ready during the season, rather than having to spend the entire year in juniors, some players aren’t served by being sent back to dominate at a level they’ve already conquered against players who physically and skill wise just don’t match up with them.

    • storminator16 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      I’ve done a 180 on this myself. I rather a player dominate, playing with friends he is familiar with, and still develop against young men his physical frame would have an easier time with. He may pick up some bad habits but the pros will outweigh the cons every time. Throwing these smaller, 18 year old kids into leagues against grown men needs to stop if teams value he long term health of their players. The CHL-NHL agreement hampers a young man from maximizing their money, which I don’t agree with, but maybe I do think I may need to come down from that high horse as well. Can most of these kids mentally handle making a 6 to 7 figure annual salary over night? No, so that’s a factor we all should consider as well. I don’t really see how sending him back to Europe helps either. Oh well, not my decision. However, I do think Draisaitl should stay far away from the Oilers roster especially if anyone has delusions of him being their 2nd line center.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      If there is a rule change in the future, I’d propose that a club be able to get a waiver for one player a year, or even every 2 years.

  2. justanotherphillyfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Of course they can..
    They can also pick in the top 5 spots for the next 5 drafts to come.

  3. Brian - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    The way the Oilers depth chart at centre looks its really a moot point. Unless they add somebody else there’s two centre spots up for grabs and only Draisatl, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander to compete for them. With that competition and the Oilers current desperation to add size at every position Draisatl is basically a lock to make the team.

  4. phillyphanatic77 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Hey Oilers you can always take Lecavalier off our hands (for essentially nothing) and let a forward prospect develop for once… I’m dreaming, on both ideas.

  5. hockeyflow33 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    The NHL really should have built in an exception per team rule for players like this

    • rmccleary97 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:50 AM

      It’s not up to the NHL; it’s up to the CHL (and Hockey Canada) – and that would require a new transfer agreement between the leagues. If you’re the CHL, you’re being asked to give up guys who would otherwise be the top stars in your league; what are you getting in return for that? Sure, the easy answer is “nothing – because if Draisatil goes to Europe, you’re getting nothing anyway” but sending him to Europe may not be as simple as the Oilers pointing to a team across the pond and saying, “go over there and play.”

      When Yakupov was originally sent to the KHL during the lockout, Hockey Canada objected and wanted him to be playing for Sarnia; the KHL suspended Yakupov while things were investigated. HC’s claim was that Yakupov had agreed to a 3-year deal with the Sting and so was under contract to play in the OHL for ’12-13; however, the contract was voided when it was deemed that Nail didn’t have “independent legal advice” when he signed it, thus making it void. (Story on that – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/hockey-canada-allows-nail-yakupov-to-play-in-khl/article4577189/)

      Unless Draisatl can show that (a) he doesn’t have junior eligibility left, (b) he’s not under contract to Prince Albert or the WHL for ’14-15, or (c) his contract should be voided a la Yakupov’s for some reason, I don’t see the WHL or Hockey Canada agreeing to sign off on letting the kid go play in Europe – not to mention, in sending him over there it raises questions of how much he can earn due to limitations on salaries paid on the 2-way part of entry-level contracts and whether a European team can permissibly pay him more than that amount.

      • storminator16 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        “Unless Draisatl can show that (a) he doesn’t have junior eligibility left, (b) he’s not under contract to Prince Albert or the WHL for ’14-15, or (c) his contract should be voided a la Yakupov’s for some reason, I don’t see the WHL or Hockey Canada agreeing to sign off on letting the kid go play in Europe”

        It would be a decision that the Oilers and Hockey Canada would discuss. It has happened in the past. The Raiders would just release him from the agreement and the Oilers will loan him to the European club they are evidently discussing this with. If I remember correctly, the Oilers will be paying the first year of his contract on the 2-way basis.

      • hockeyflow33 - Aug 15, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        Teams are harming player’s development by forcing them to play juniors when they shouldn’t. At some point leagues should be doing the right thing and allowing their kids to properly develop.

  6. esracerx46 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    I thought the agreement Draisaitl had with his CHL club prevented him from doing anything in Europe. I know Hockey Canada and the CHL were angry when Yakupov went to Russia. I thought they even asked the IIHF or someone else to step in.So is playing overseas really an option for him after he went the CHL route?

  7. ray2013 - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:34 AM

    There was another story about the Oilers hiring Tyler Dellow, so we will get to see what kind of influence he is really going to have. He wrote literally dozens of articles on his old site criticizing the Oilers for how they managed prospects. Out of recent drafts, Dellow was quite clear the only logical prospect to make the jump immediately should have been Taylor Hall, and that was because his team had been so successful at the junior level there was nothing left for him to prove, and he had the size and speed to make the jump. All the rest would have been better off completeling their junior eligibility and playing a year in the AHL. This works from a player development standpoint as well as from a contractual management perspective.

    So if Dellow has any juice, this guy will go back to juniors. If he doesn’t, then what is Dellow actually doing there?

  8. ray2013 - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:35 AM

    Completing not comptelling. Lol

  9. btlpper68 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    I don’t get why you can go right to the show after your drafted but you can’t play in the AHL

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