As is our custom here at SB Nation, the various NHL site managers get together and conduct a mock draft in advance of the real NHL Draft each June. As is also NHL custom, the writers here were at the top of the list when it came to making a selection.
With the third overall pick, only Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett were not available, leaving us with Sam Rinehart and Leon Drasaitl, two forwards available for a forward-heavy team in a forward-heavy draft. When I surveyed the writing crew here, there was not a strong feeling towards either player, and a slight preference for the bigger winger rather than the smaller centre. When I announced our intention to draft Drasaitl, there wasn't much resistance, meaning the crew here values both players extremely similarly, or the crew here no longer cares about the NHL Draft.
Why did we go with Draisaitl?
- For starters, he's 6'1", 209 lbs, and according to Scott Cullen could make the jump to the NHL immediately, much like Stars' 2013 pick Valeri Nichushkin:
Leon Draisaitl is a big-bodied (6-foot-2, 204 pounds) that would be easy enough to project into an NHL lineup next season. In addition to having the frame, Draisaitl came across as mature and thoughtful in interviews.
- He' a possession player, and on a team like Edmonton, players who can keep the puck are like finding water in a desert. Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau:
"That kid works so hard every shift. I don't see how this kid doesn't go early. There's no one in this draft class who can protect the puck like him."
- What else? Well, he's foreign, so he'll share the blame for the Oilers' woes, taking some of the load off of Nail Yakupov.
- He's drawing lofty comparisons, but every player draws lofty comparisons in the lead up to the draft - the comparisons shouldn't be headlines.
- He's already familiar with Western Canada, so if he does make the Oilers in October, he shouldn't need a breaking-in period.
- Boyd Gordon gives him a role model for defensive play, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins a role model for the power play. His landing could be a soft one if the Oilers find a depth centre to help him out at the bottom of the lineup.
Draisaitl is ranked everywhere from 2-10, depending on the scout and service doing the ranking, so there's a chance he might not be available for the Oilers at #3, especially with zany Dale Tallon lording over the top of the draft.