It’s 2001 June, I’m driving to Medicine Hat with Mrs. Lowetide and the kids. We stop in Viking (back then, the kids were small, and stops were frequent because because because) and I turn the radio on to check on the news (this was before 24-hour sports hit our town). The man on the radio says “Oilers make a trade—more next!” and I curse the man who (correctly) identified the tease. I wait through the car commercials and the dental commercials and the financial commercials (they were all my clients, so I didn’t mind) and the man comes back and says “Oilers traded Sergei Zholtok to Minnesota for a conditional draft pick.”
The pick? J-F Dufort. His career ended iirc due to a concussion but I could be wrong (I’m not).
I’m thrilled! Why? Doug Weight wasn’t traded! Maybe, just maybe, the Oilers would keep our wonderful center who made so much happen with his vision and saucer passes and temper (Doug Weight had a temper). Two days later, Doug Weight was traded to St. Louis. I was barbecuing hamburgers at my father-in-law’s house, having a beer with a man who saw Howe, the Bentley’s and lord knows who else over the years. As he did so often during our chats, Wes used few words and hammered things home: “They got robbed.” Thanks, Wes.
The names over the years came and went, Comrie and Horcoff (he was my favorite) and Peca for a time. Then the kids came straight from the draft, Sam Gagner and that group and things didn’t really begin to look up at center until the Nuge. The Nuge. Even now, in all the excitement over Connor McDavid, we all value the Nuge and know how good and humble and fabulous he will be this winter. No one, all summer, has even mentioned what RNH’s role will be, we all know it. He’s a fine young two-way center and will be for a long time. I don’t think he’ll get the attention he’ll earn now through 2022 but we’ll know it, our little corner of the world.
Leon Draisaitl came to us in 2014. He was not the highest ranked player when it came Edmonton’s turn but there was no chance—none at all—the Oilers would pass on him. Big, strong, fantastic passer and great vision and creativity, all in a very determined package with considerable straightaway speed.
- Cody Nickolet, WHL from Above: Draisaitl has arguably the most raw talent of any WHL prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft. From my viewings, his best asset is his vision. He has a great ability to slow the play down and set up linemates with super feeds on either the forehand or backhand, with his backhand sauce being something to sit back and marvel at. That ability to slow down the play has been seen as a knock by some, as he tends to attempt to slow the pace down constantly, instead of showing an ability to play in a faster environment. His skating is also another area of concern as he’s got a choppy, ugly stride. I think that’s definitely an area of concern, but has been an area that many players have improved upon in the past. He really had a great second half of the season, putting the Raiders on his back and shrugging off a sub-par appearance at the World Juniors for team Germany. He also put together a strong performance for Germany at the World Championships, proving that he can look pretty good on the ice against some NHL talent, despite his skating concerns. Overall I think he might have the most potential of any WHL player in the draft and I wouldn’t be shocked if a team took him in the top 3 picks. Source
Connor McDavid. He changes everything, including (for all I know brain chemistry) the depth chart but let’s all remember Leon Draisaitl this fall. The young German is no less a talent than he was one year ago, in fact the extra year of experience should make him more formidable.
Leon Draisaitl is a ridiculous young talent and I for one hope like hell he spends the heart of his Oilers career as a center. Call me selfish, but I well remember the day Wes said “they got robbed” and we talked about the young man Comrie over beers (too many beers). Leon Draisaitl. I’m thrilled he’s still an Oiler (there was some danger here over draft weekend) and hope he finds his way.
As a center.