Draisaitl also says that he thinks the Oilers are moving in the right direction as they have brought in players through trades like David Perron and their young stars continue to mature.
“I think I’m going to have to do my job and earn my spot if I want to play in that league and on that team,” Draisaitl said. “I think they’re moving forward. They’ve made some good trades like for Perron and I think the guys are getting older and more mature and this is just awesome right now.”
On the possibility of playing with Hall, Draisaitl had nothing but good things to say:
“He’s probably the fastest skater in the league and he’s an exciting player to watch. He’s a star in the league. It might be a good fit but you never know. It’s up to the coaches to put a line together and I can only do my job.”
The Edmonton Oilers made Leon Draisaitl the third overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft tonight. Having his size (6-foot-2, 213 pounds) and his skill (105 points this season), Draisaitl could make an immediate jump to the NHL from the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL.
Earlier today, Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor said he felt any of the top four prospects have an “outstanding chance to play” this season. Draisaitl says he feels like he has some things to work on but should be ready after the summer.
“I think I have to work on some stuff but that’s what I’m going to do this summer and I think I’m ready next year,” he said.
It was expected that the Edmonton Oilers were interested in Leon Draisaitl. The day before the draft, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke of the team’s need of a centre and how size was also a factor. Draisaitl fits that description and the Oilers made him the third overall pick in this year’s draft.
Draisaitl didn’t know for sure if he would hear his name called when the Oilers took the stage in Philadelphia, but he had an idea that they liked him.“I think this year was really unpredictable," Draisaitl said. "No one really knew what was going on from the players’ perspective. I had really good meetings with them and knew they were interested but you didn’t know what was going on with the trades and all that stuff but right now, wearing that jersey is phenomenal.”
The Edmonton Oilers will have a decision to make when it’s their turn to submit their selection with the third overall pick in tonight’s draft. A question that has come up in the scouting meetings has been whether or not the Oilers rank immediate help above future impact or vice versa.
“That’s an interesting question and something we’ve been throwing around a lot over the last year,” Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor said. “Positional need, a desire to have a player that can make an impact today or who will be the best player in five years.”
MacGregor says the scouts always lean towards future projections over the short-term value of a player.
“Obviously longterm for a scout, you’re projecting five years ahead,” he said. “Management may look at things a little realistically on a shorter term basis. We do need to make some strides. Hopefully those strides forward will come from the group that’s already there and a coaching staff that’s solidified in working with that group and a comfort that the players believe in the direction we’re going on the team. Adding something that can help immediately would be a great benefit but it’s like anything, you’re judged longterm and what type of success you’ll have. One good year may buy you a few more years of employment but if you can get through those development years, probably five great years on an on-going basis probably buys you 15-20 years of employment. It’s an interesting process but scouts project longterm.”
The Oilers are in position to take one of the draft’s top four prospects: Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart or Leon Draisaitl. MacGregor said he thinks all four of them have the ability to make the jump to the NHL right away.
“I really believe all four have an excellent chance. I don’t think there is any varying degree of difference in their opportunity. Opportunity will have to present itself with the team that they’re with and their development plan and there’s a lot of factors that come with that. But I would expect that all four of them have an outstanding chance to play.”
PHILADELPHIA - Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko is above the rest in many minds. He is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American goalie and will possibly be the first of his position off the board when the draft gets underway in Philadelphia.
Demko says it is his love of the game and his will to win that separates him from the pack of draft-eligible netminders.
“I think just my will to win,” Demko said. “I work really hard off the ice to make sure I’m getting myself prepared to play. Definitely in the off-season too, I am making sure that I’m getting better for next year so when I do get back to the next season I will be ready to go. I think I just love the game more than most guys do and I want to be in the NHL.”
Demko, 18, is a native of San Diego, CA. He finished his freshman year at Boston College with a 2.24 goals against average and .919 save percentage.
PHILADELPHIA - There is no denying the potential of Peterborough Petes forward Nick Ritchie. With size on his side, Ritchie hopes to one day become one of the better power forwards in the NHL. He looks up to players like Boston’s Milan Lucic and Dallas’ Jamie Benn.
For him to become like one of those two, Ritchie will have to “bring it every night.”
“I think those two guys are pretty good players in the NHL,” Ritchie said. “They’re big and they bring it every night. I think for me, if I bring it every night, I can be one of those guys.”
Consistency is reportedly an issue with Ritchie. But the power forward who scored 74 points (39-35-74) this season believes that will get better with maturity.
“I think as I get older and more mature that will come. I will just keep working hard in the gym. I think once I get it I will be alright.”
Some of the top draft prospects gathered at Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia this morning for the Top Prospects Clinic. They skated with local youth hockey players and participated in drills with the children.
“It’s awesome,” Prince Albert centre Leon Draisaitl said. “Seeing those kids enjoy themselves and play hockey. That’s the best thing in the world. They love being out there. They obviously have a passion for it and that’s the ultimate and that’s awesome.”
Now that the pre-draft process is winding down and the days have turned to hours in anticipation of tomorrow night’s draft, the prospects’ nerves are building. Being able to lace up the skates and leave it all off the ice was a welcomed break for the players.
“A lot of the focus is on tomorrow and obviously that’s still up in the air for all of us right now,” Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle said. “But being able to skate with these kids has been a great experience and what they’ve got going on here is awesome.”
“It was awesome,” Kingston’s Sam Bennett said. “Anytime I can lace on the skates it’s going to be a good day. I’ve had so much fun out here with these kids and I think it’s great for these kids to get out here. I’m having fun, I can see the smiles on these kids and it looks like they’re have a great time.”
Draisaitl added, “It’s always nice to be on the ice. There is no better feeling than being on the ice. The nerves are coming and I’m already a little bit nervous to be honest but it’s not too bad. I think tomorrow will be pretty nerve-racking for sure.”
When Sam Bennett failed to complete a pull up at the NHL Scouting Combine, he didn’t know that it would be a huge deal. NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater then had to read about it and watch reports on it on television in the following days.
What helped Bennett deal with the media and fan scrutiny was a phone call from an established NHL player. Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza sought out Bennett’s number and delivered some career advice.
“Jason Spezza gave me a call right after he saw it,” Bennett said. “He said he saw the articles in the paper and he was like, wow I’ve got to call this kid. He got my number, he gave me a call and I had a really good talk with him. He just talked about how you’re going to go through bad publicity throughout your entire hockey career. He’s been through it and he just really helped me deal with that and it was a great learning experience.”
It doesn’t appear as though Bennett’s lack of a pull up at the Combine will affect his draft stock. He is expected to be a top-four pick.
Top draft prospect Sam Bennett took a visit to Edmonton not too long ago to visit with the Oilers organization. They had dinner and Bennett was given a tour of the rink and the offices.
“Edmonton is cool,” Bennett said. “I went there and saw the Oilers offices and then I went to Rexall Place and saw the dressing room, saw the rink and I had a great time in Edmonton. I met a bunch of great people. The management there is awesome so it was very cool to go there and meet those guys.”
With all of the pre-draft speculation and rumours swirling around, Aaron Ekblad’s head must be spinning. But the top-rated defenceman has developed a great way of dealing with all of the talk.
“With how much rumours that have been going around about what Florida is going to do, what is everyone going to do, it’s easy to get caught up in it but it’s a lot easier to take a step back and not worry about it,” Ekblad said. “It’s out of your control. You just have to wait and rely on how well you’ve shown yourself this year. That’s kind of where I’m at. I’m excited and I’m anxious about it but I don’t want to worry about it too much.”
The Oilers are sitting at third overall in the first round of the draft. It is not expected that Ekblad will be around when they make their selection. But they’ve done their homework on the superb prospect and after meeting with the organization, Ekblad is sold that the Oilers would be a fit.
“I love the rink that they have right now, I love that there is going to be a new one, the dressing room and some of the players that they have. It’s all great,” he said. “They have a great organization, a great owner and a great coaching staff. I met just about every one of the Oilers staff members, even away from the rink. If I end up there then that’s awesome and I’d make the best of it. I think I’d fit in to their defensive core pretty well. Whatever happens happens and I’m excited to go anywhere and I’m ready to play anywhere.”