Nearly two weeks into this year’s free agency period, the Oilers have made a handful of movements. They’ve made a slew of minor league transactions to beef up Bakersfield, and they acquired Jussi Jokinen for the nice low price of 1.1MM. Even nicer? The McDavid Deal. Prior to free agency, they sold low on Jordan Eberle, a deal we saw coming for some time.
Leon Draisaitl is still unsigned. It’s not a deal breaker right now, but I start to worry if this carries over into August. If what we hear about Draisaitl’s camp needing $9MM a season rings true, making a move involving the talented German becomes more and more likely. I don’t think the Oilers have gotten near this point, but you don’t rule out much when your GM has moved both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin for lesser parts.
In 2016-17, Leon Draisaitl’s most common linemates were Patrick Maroon and Connor McDavid. Draisaitl responded by putting up a very nice 77 point season (29-48-77). Pay the man, right? Yes. Absolutely pay the man, but I don’t think he’s going to get nine million from the Oilers over a lengthy term.
It’s a mystery as to what statistics are used behind closed doors in Edmonton, but here’s a big one that’s important: when Connor and Leon were on the ice in 2016-17, they scored 3.67 goals per sixty minutes of play. When Leon is away from Connor, they scored only 2.28. It’s no mystery that Connor McDavid is the straw that stirs the drink in every situation possible, but I start to sit up and take notice when the dropoff is about a goal and a half. I’m not sure if the Oilers are looking at this number, but if they are, it could be a reason for the hold up. Draisaitl’s playoffs saw him go on sixteen point tear in 13 games, which probably did well to install confidence in management.
Yeah sure, they could happen. If some team comes in with $9MM at eight years, I think he’d go for it. I’ve no reason to think it’s happened yet, and Chiarelli is on the record saying he’d ‘match any offer’. Things could get wonky if someone swoops in and pays something ghastly like 11 million for one year, but as far as we know, it hasn’t happened yet.
Nicholson on Drai: "We have a good process in place that Peter is leading and we have 100% confidence that Leon will be back as an Oiler"— OilersNow (@OilersNow) July 11, 2017
I gotta admit, hearing Bob Nicholson say this didn’t really install the confidence I was looking for.
THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART
The likely scenario is that Draisaitl meets the Oilers somewhere in the middle and signs a long term deal. I’m not sure if that number is somewhere in the sevens, somewhere in the eights, or something different altogether. The longer this deal takes, the less confident I become that the Oilers are able to reach an accord with Draisaitl. Because of Chiarelli’s tendency to deal talent in the past, I don’t put it past him to make a move.