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Draisaitl confident Oilers will rebound

Forward says they're 'too good of a team' to miss playoffs again

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM -- Leon Draisaitl believes there is no reason the Edmonton Oilers shouldn't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. 

 

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After making the postseason for the first time in 11 seasons in 2016-17, the Oilers struggled last season and finished 17 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card from the Western Conference.

"We, as players, need to take ownership and be the best team we can be," Draisaitl said Thursday during the NHL European Player Media Tour. "I think that last year we weren't the team that we are, or that we want to be. Seasons like that happen, but we have to make sure it doesn't happen again. 

"I think we're too good of a team where we're not at least competing in the playoffs or not in the race. And even if we are, that's probably not good enough. We want to make the playoffs and I think we have the team to do it. Now it's up to the players to show it."

Video: VAN@EDM: Draisaitl pots McDavid's dish for PPG

Draisaitl's comments mirror those made last week by captain Connor McDavid, who said he was glad management kept the core of the Oilers together.

However, they are going to be without one of those core members: Defenseman Andrej Sekera had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon on Tuesday and is out indefinitely. Sekera missed the first 34 games last season after tearing his ACL in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

"It's obviously disappointing for the team, but even more so, I'm disappointed for him," Draisaitl said. "You really feel bad for the guy. He's coming off an injury and he trained so hard all summer to come back, to get back to the form he had, the type of player he was, the shape he was in. And now he's injured again and he's going to be out for a while. We're going to miss him a lot."

One area the Oilers have to improve is special teams. Last season, their power play finished last in the NHL at 14.8 percent and the penalty kill was 25th at 76.7 percent. In 2016-17, Edmonton was fifth on the power play (22.9 percent) and tied for 17th (80.7 percent) on the penalty kill.

"Our special teams were dead last, both of them were near last," Draisaitl said. "That doesn't help. We need to be better as a team, support each other more and stay confident."

Selected by the Oilers with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Draisaitl has 207 points (75 goals, 132 assists) in 269 NHL games. He had 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists) in 78 games last season, his first after signing an eight-year, $68 million contract Aug. 16, 2017. 

"Obviously, there's always pressure that comes with a deal like that, especially with an eight-year deal," Draisaitl said. "But I understood it. It didn't really put any extra pressure on me."

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