The Edmonton Oilers were swept right out of the playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets, and almost immediately the Connor McDavid spitballing started. The Oilers aren’t going to move McDavid, but the Jack Eichel situation may scare them into making decisions to get McDavid some help. They are a mess, and they need help all over the lineup. Their best trade chip, aside from McDavid of course, is Leon Draisaitl, and it would certainly qualify as a big splash for the Rangers.
The Oilers are set to lost Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to free agency, taking away their third best offensive weapon. Their goaltending just cost them at least a game in that sweep. Their defense is headlined by…..someone? This is a team that needs help everywhere. And the Rangers are the team that has the assets. If they have the assets to land Eichel, they have the assets to land Draisaitl.
Just a reminder that there is not a single rumor pointing to Draisaitl being available. This is just pure spitballing. It isn’t even speculation.
Draisaitl is all offense
Leon Draisaitl is the non-McDavid trade chip that can bring them the most. The 25 year old plays all three forward positions and has been an offensive force since paired with McDavid. The guy has put up three 100 point seasons (2021 was a 100 point pace) in a row. He’s a force on the powerplay and a very skilled players. But, as with all players, there are concerns.
We all know what Draisaitl is offensively. One of the biggest concerns is his play away from the puck. It’s a justified concern, as his defensive numbers are pretty bad. It’s almost as if he plays in two zones. The right coach and the right system can get some buy in on the defensive side of things. Generally speaking though, putting up 100 points is worth the defensive lapses.
It’s not just a blip either for Draisaitl. He’s one of the worst defensive players in the league. Now don’t read that the wrong way. At 100 points, he likely outperforms all of his defensive woes. But don’t think you’re getting McDavid or Eichel. He’s a step below both as a complete player.
What about his play without McDavid?
The other big concern is what he can do without the best player in the world. Can he put up the points without him? Or will he stumble to “just” under a point per game pace? Again, we aren’t going to see Draisaitl completely crumble without him. But we might see a downtick in points and offensive impact.
The above is Draisaitl’s WOWY from this season. Now these should be taken with a grain of salt, as they are a bit noisy and dependent on good data with some flaws. Again, use it to paint a picture. The middle cluster is the average Draisaitl. The purple box around McDavid is how far he carries Draisaitl when paired together. It’s a significant boost.
Now look to the blue box to the left around the number 97. That’s how far Draisaitl falls when without McDavid. Two things jump out at me here:
- McDavid drives a big chunk of Draisaitl’s offensive impact. Remember that offensive impact is more than just points.
- The defense remains the same – bad.
The play without McDavid, combined with the significant hole in his game, make Leon Draisaitl a very risky proposition for the Rangers or any acquiring team. Assuming Edmonton looks to move him.
Draisaitl comes with an $8.5 million cap hit for the next four years, which is comparable to Eichel. Eichel is a risk because of his injury. But Draisaitl is healthy and perhaps a bigger risk because he may be a product of playing with the best player in the world. If the Rangers are going to give up the same pieces to acquire one or the other, than I’d go with the injury risk. At least he can be put on LTIR.
This isn’t to say the Rangers won’t benefit from having Leon Draisaitl, or that any trade would be a disaster. It is painting a full picture of who Draisaitl has been as a player in his young NHL career. There’s significant risk.