a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Sunday, 4 January 2015

01/04/15 Three Ways Draisaitl Was Mishandled

Remember that old saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? If we in the blogs followed that mantra when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers, things would be pretty quiet.

1) Don't Develop In The NHL

The NHL is not a development league. When prospects on good teams make it to the big league, they're ready to contribute right away. That's how you build a team that is worth watching for the fans. It doesn't make sense to keep Draisaitl in the NHL to develop because the league is over his head, but also because having him in Edmonton prevented the Oilers from building proper center depth.

You can't say that you're serious about winning and have Draisaitl in a feature role. He's taking up a roster spot that could have been filled by a proven player. Even someone like Derek Roy isn't that much of a step down from a raw but talented rookie, as the Oilers have finally realized.

2) Missed The World Juniors

It's not like the Oilers robbed Draisaitl of the chance to play for his country, as he has done that many times before. But they certainly robbed his country of the chance to have Draisaitl play for them. And for what? To scratch him twice during the tournament? That's a bit of a dick move.

But beyond that, if he wasn't even going to play in the NHL (he's had about 50 minutes of NHL ice time since December 21st, when pre-tournament play began for Germany), why not have him go play a feature role for his country? That hour with the Oilers isn't going to make or break the player, and neither is the WJC, but getting him out of here as soon as possible is the best thing for him at this point. So why hang on just to scratch him?

3) Lose A Cheap Year Of Production

Sending Draisaitl back before the 40 game mark does mean that he hasn't officially gained a year of NHL experience, so this mess of a season won't count as one of the seven he needs to become a UFA. But that doesn't mean everything is hunky-dorey.

Draisaitl was clearly never ready for the NHL in the first place, but once the Oilers started the season with five straight losses it should have been clear that they weren't making the playoffs - as if that was ever in doubt anyway. So why burn a year of Draisaitl's Entry Level deal? If the player pans out as expected, he'll never be cheaper than he is right now. Way back when, Tyler Dellow wrote:

"Winning the Stanley Cup isn't rocket science: you do it by spending your money better than everyone else and getting lucky. Really good young players provide you with outrageous value, which you can then turn into something else."

Words to build by. Because the Oilers once again burned a year of ELC on a meaningless season, they'll have to pay Draisaitl sooner for his production. The difference between Draisaitl's current cap hit and his next one could be the amount of a player the Oilers add at the deadline, for example. That may matter in three seasons if the Oilers hadn't used up a year now, but will it matter in the next two? When Draisaitl is ready to make an impact, paying him sooner may mean making a choice between players, rather than having your cake and eating it too.

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