Leon Draisaitl is in the same spot he was last summer. He is working hard to earn an NHL job out of camp. The big Oilers centre is another year stronger, wiser and more experienced but the club has also gotten better, adding to their depth.
“I’m well aware of that and I think that just makes it more fun,” said Draisaitl. “There is going to be a big competition for spots. I want to make a case for myself and I want to be on this team. Obviously, I’m going to battle hard for a spot.”
Drafting Connor McDavid first overall, adding a centre via free agency (Mark Letestu) and the emergence of Anton Lander have left seemingly few spots up for grabs. Would the Oilers be better suited to start Draisaitl out on the wing this season?
If they wish to do so, Draisaitl says that’s OK.
“I’d be totally fine with that,” he said. “I’ve played the wing before… I know how to play the wing. For me, it wouldn’t really matter. As long as I’m on the team, for me, everything works I guess.”
Having experience playing both up the middle and on the wing, Draisaitl can make that transition if need be.
“It’s easier to switch from centre to wing than from wing to centre,” said Draisaitl. “I think you have a little bit more responsibility as a centreman. A lot of times you’re the guy working down low with the defenceman and that obviously takes work. That, you kind of don’t have as a winger. I think, obviously, you have to work hard as a winger as well, but I think it’s a little different role. Like I said, I know how to play both sides and I think that’s a good thing to have.”
If Draisaitl earns a spot out of camp and it just so happens to be on the wing, it gives Edmonton another offensive weapon up front. Draisaitl had 53 points (19-34-53) in just 32 games for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL last season. He had 28 points (10-18-28) in 19 playoff games.