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INBOX: Sizing up the Golden Bears

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers radio colour analyst Bob Stauffer answers fans submitted by fans about the team.
  1. Hi Bob, do you think Leon Draisaitl will benefit more playing as a winger, or a centre? From what I understand he started his junior career off as a winger.

       — Dustin from Grande Prairie


If Leon Draisaitl wants to see the benefit of playing in the Oilers top 6 he is likely going to have to play on the wing.

In a recent appearance on “Oilers Now”, Todd McLellan said that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid will be the Oilers centres for the next several years and that he also sees Draisaitl as a top-6 forward. My guess is that once the Oilers main training camp gets started on Friday we will see a fair amount of Leon Draisaitl on the wing after playing at centre during the Young Stars Tournament.

The 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft had sluggish starts in his first two games in Penticton, but really came on the back half of the wins over Vancouver and Calgary. I also thought Leon was really good on the game Monday against Winnipeg.

  • It's said that Gretzky made his teammates better. It's also said that McDavid has a high hockey-IQ. How realistic is it to think that a player like Yakupov, who's a gifted athlete but struggled in playing the NHL game, could learn from McDavid? If Yak's growth under Roy was any indication, he's an astute learner.

         — Amir from Calgary


    There are a lot of reasons why Nail Yakupov really struggled over the last couple of seasons and not all of them are on the first-overall pick from the 2012 Draft.

    It is clear that when Todd Nelson came aboard as Head Coach he bred offensive confidence back into Yakupov’s game. Playing consistently with Derek Roy helped too. Yakupov finished the season with 21 points in the final 34 games under Nelson (which is a 54 point pace).

    If Yakupov hypothetically ended up playing with Taylor Hall and Connor McDavid and saw significant power-play time, a 55-point season would be doable in my opinion.

    There is no question that in time Connor McDavid will make everybody better on the Oilers.

  • Everyone in Edmonton is looking forward to Wednesday’s game against the U of A. What type of team is the Golden Bears and how do you think the Oilers Rookies will match up against them?

         — Fickle Fred from Fultonvale

    Fickle Fred,

    The Alberta Golden Bears are two-time defending CIS Champions. They outscored St. FX, UQTR and UNB by a combined 16-5 at last year’s University Cup en route to winning their record 15th CIS title, and also hammered NCAA teams Dartmouth 6-1 and Yale 3-0 in back-to-back games on the road last fall.

    Alberta has seven players who are entering their fifth and final year of eligibility who have a shot at the first CIS three-peat since the U of A did it in the late 1970’s (1978-1980).

    Former Atlanta Thrashers’ pick Levko Koper is probably their best forward and he will likely play on the Bears top line with two other fifth-year seniors Kruise Reddick and Jordan Hickmott who were pretty good scorers in the WHL.

    The Bears will likely feature a line-up with eight forwards who scored at least 20 goals once in the WHL.

    That said, the Bears have not replaced the offence of Johnny Lazo who graduated and former Edmonton Oil King TJ Foster who signed with the Toronto Marlies. Both Lazo and Foster were 70+ scores in in the WHL, and Foster might have been the best player in CIS hockey in the second half of the season last year.

    The defence can move the puck. All six defenceman who will likely play Wednesday night at Rexall had at least one 30+ point season in the WHL. Jordan Rowley, who attended Oilers main camp last fall is the PP QB. He and incoming freshman Sawyer Lange (who played with Draisaitl in Prince Albert) each had a 50-point season in Junior.

    The Bears #1 goaltender Kurtis Mucha graduated so I expect to see Luke Siemens get the start for the Bears.

  • Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer
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