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Leon Draisaitl makes convincing argument for roster spot with Oilers

  • Joe Ray
leon draisaitl

Leon Draisaitl, center, has the right mentality to step in immediately as a leader in Edmonton. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After being drafted third overall in the 2014 NHL Draft just ten days ago, Oilers center Leon Draisaitl believes that he is ready to join a roster headlined by a plethora of other young forward prospects.

Last week, Edmonton traded center Sam Gagner to Tampa Bay for right wing Teddy Purcell, freeing up a spot at center in the top two forward lines. That spot could easily be filled by Draisaitl, the 6’2″, 213-pound German who posted 105 points in the WHL last season with the Prince Albert Raiders. The maturity displayed by many of this year’s top rookies is noteworthy, and that could result in many top draft picks playing in the NHL this coming season. Draisaitl showed he is no exception to this rule in an interview with writer Chris Wescott.

“Obviously there is a little bit of pressure as people expect quite a bit from a third overall pick or any first round pick,” Leon Draisaitl, the Edmonton Oilers first round selection in this year’s draft, said. “I think there is a little bit of pressure but I think for me personally the most important thing is that I just do what I am doing best and just doing what I can control. That is basically just going out there and working as hard as I can and being the best player I can be.”

While Draisaitl brings an element of physicality lacked by Oilers forwards such as Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Nail Yakupov, he knows that a spot on the Edmonton roster will have to be earned this offseason. Draisaitl undoubtedly has the right mentality to be successful in the NHL right away.

“I think it is a learning process for any 18-year-old kid,” Draisaitl said. “But at the same time, I think if a player is ready to play and step in and make an impact then why wouldn’t you let him play and give him a chance? I think there’s a lot of players who aren’t ready and come in to training camp, they’re young and that’s usually every 18-year-old kid is not as strong as an NHL player. I think it’s a learning process but if a player is ready and he wants to make an impact then there is no way you can get around letting him play.”

The path back to the postseason has been a tumultuous one for the Oilers, who have not made the playoffs since losing to Carolina in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. Draisaitl could be a key piece in ending Edmonton’s eight-year state of rebuilding.

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Around the Rink Assistant Site Manager Joe Ray – @jpray_SK

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