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BLOG: Draisaitl moving to the middle

Coach McLellan talks about shifting Draisaitl to centre and why tomorrow will be the first game this season he has done so

by Marc Ciampa /

The Oilers lines at Saturday's practice at Boston University had Leon Draisaitl skating in the middle between Drake Caggiula and Ryan Strome. It would be the first game this season Draisaitl played centre. 

"We're not getting enough out of players. Whether that's Leon and the centres or the wingers so we've got to try something else," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan after practice, noting that Draisaitl will be in the middle to begin the game on Sunday but he reserved the right to shuffle things up if needed. 

"You have to skate there and it might cut back some of the minutes for our other centremen and maybe that'll give them some more energy."

Draisaitl agreed with the coach's assessment.

"I don't really care. Right now it's just a matter of getting my game back together. It's not even close to being good enough right now," Draisaitl began. "There shouldn't be a huge difference but I think you have to do a little bit more skating at centre. It's just a matter of for myself getting my game back together."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Leon Draisaitl

McLellan said the reason he's had Draisaitl on the wing for so long is because the line was so good last season. 

"Last year, Connor and Leon created the best duo -- and along with Patty Maroon, the top line in the League. They were comparable to what the Schenn line is doing (this season) in St. Louis so we wanted to start there," he stated, adding he also didn't want to push Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down the lineup.

"My opinion, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been a very good player for us (this season). He's had some average nights but what are we, 23 or 24 games in and it's hard to play perfect every night but he's played extremely well."

McLellan also said he felt Ryan Strome has played better at centre so that was another reason. 

"We're not as productive as we need to so we're going to put Strome on the wing and put Leon back in the middle."

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