When Leon Draisitl playing center for the Edmonton Oilers, he reminds assistant coach Glen Gulutzan of Pavel Datsyuk or Anze Kopitar with his mix of offensive and reliable 200-foot play. So Glen, what about when Dave Tippett loads up and Draisaitl plays on the wing along with Connor McDavid? Then who?
“When he’s on the wing, he’s Ovi,” Gulutzan said 10 days ago, discussing the possibility that Draisaitl could score 50 goals in 50 games. Draisaitl scored 21 goals in 22 games this season with one in a 4-3 loss to Seattle Kraken on Friday, which just so happened to be the 500.th games in the Oilers’ silk for the big stud from Cologne, Germany.
Seem Draisitl to a combination of Datsyuk, Kopitar and Alexander Ovechkin is, to say the least, high praise, but when you consider what Deutschland Dangler has achieved in 500 games since the Oilers called his name as the third overall from the Prince Albert Raiders in the 2014 Entry Draft, it is not a monstrous bid.
The winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP, Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy in 2020, Draisaitl, 26, has collected 220-329-549 in these 500 games. It includes 50 goals in 2018-19. Along the way, Draisaitl, like McDavid, has already roared up the lists of franchise career leaders and joined names that made it a habit to win the Stanley Cups here.
Draisaitls 220 career goals number six. Next up, Ryan Smyth at 296. His 329 assists are number 10th with Smyth and Ales Hemsky ahead at 335. Draisaitl is ninth with 549 points and he should get past Doug Weight (577) by the end of the season. There is, of course, more – he is number eight in ES goals with 132 and sixth in power-play goals at 80 – it just depends on how deep you want to dig.
In short, Draisaitl is better than anyone that this franchise has had for a long, long time that is not called McDavid. To have a duo with as much play as No. 97 and No. 29 bring to the table in tandem, you have to go all the way back to the heyday of greatness, when the Oilers paraded up and down Jasper Avenue on the regular.
FUHR INCLUDED IN 3ICE
Fans love three-on-three hockey when it comes to overtime in the NHL, but the format will sell in a new league scheduled to start up this summer with some well-known names, including former Oiler Grant Fuhr, in the mix as coaches? I’m not sure.
The league is called 3 Is and it’s a circuit of six teams scheduled to start at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on June 18 in the first of nine stop in tournament style. The Canadian dates are in London on July 16th and Quebec City on July 30th. Each team will consist of six players and a goalkeeper. The teams must play matches consisting of two periods of eight minutes.
Although the league is not long on details at this point beyond what is on the website, 3Ice has attracted Fuhr and an impressive list of coaches. In addition to Fuhr, there are Guy Carbonneau, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy and Bryan Trottier. Craig Patrick is the commissioner.
“Overtime is the most exciting part of hockey, apart from the playoffs,” said Fuhr. “So we take the most exciting part of hockey and show it.” The league was supposed to start last summer, but was delayed by COVID. There’s a story about the league from the Sports Business Journal here.
Without knowing which players will be involved in addition to “Each player on a 3ICE list will come from a professional hockey lineage” from an old story on TSN, the price point for live tickets, revenue streams and costs, I do not know if this can fly. The league apparently has a TV deal in place. What do you say?
AND . . .
- The sooner the Oilers get hurt Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci back the better, but I have certainly liked what I have seen from Markus Niemelainen in the two games he has played since arriving from Bakersfield. At this early stage in his pro career on this side of the Atlantic, there are some rough edges to turn off. That said, Niemelainen, 23, is playing with a nice bit of bite. The big fin likes to bang and I would not be surprised if he does this full time next season.
- Nurse skated an entire workout Saturday and could be back in line against Los Angeles tonight. . . Colton Sceviour does not have much to show for the 13 games he has played in numbers with 0-1-1, but I like him better at RW on a third line with Derek Ryan and Warren Foegele than I like watching Zack Kassian take space over there.
Formerly by Robin Brownlee