Last night on Insider Trading, well-respected analyst Bob McKenzie had an interesting take on the Leon Draisaitl situation in Edmonton.
That nine game, ten game threshold is becoming less and less important all the time for a lot of teams in the National Hockey League. The one that matters to most teams now is the 39-40 game threshold. You can play 39 games in a year, but as soon as you go to 40, it counts as a year towards unrestricted free agency. There's actually an economic benefit to letting a player go by his 9 games, play the tenth game, burn off a year of his entry level, send him back to junior hockey, give him a lesser body of work so that he doesn't get as good a second contract and he doesn't reach free agency until eight years in instead of seven years in, because you send him back to junior before he plays his 40th game.
Prior to those comments, Dreger confirmed what we all suspected is the case: that Craig MacTavish is looking for a centre to help his hockey team.
Based on the exchange between Dreger and McKenzie, it seems like a reasonable conclusion that the Oilers are going to try to acquire that piece before the 40 game threshold that McKenzie talked about in the segment. If they're successful, the team would send Draisaitl back to junior (or Europe), burn off a year of his entry level contract, but still maintain the eight year cushion before he hits unrestricted free agency.
Unfortunately, all this might be a case of too-little-too-late as the Oilers missed the opportunity to pick up a centre during the summer when the options were far more numerous than they are now. The need for help at centre was as pressing and apparent then as it is now.
A possible scenario—and perhaps still the most likely one—is one in which Draisaitl sticks out the season with the hockey team, and we all get to witness the ups and downs of an 18-year-old rookie season in full.
Do you agree with McKenzie's reasoning? Should the Oilers keep Draisaitl past the nine game threshold?