The Edmonton Oilers have high hopes for their 2014 first-round pick Leon Draisaitl.
Earlier this month, the Oilers rewarded Draisaitl with a three-year $10.2 million entry-level contract.
On Friday, general manager Craig MacTavish said he believes the 18-year-old will contend for a roster spot with the big club when camp opens next month.
“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make a strong case,” MacTavish said. “Fortunately we don’t have to make that decision right now. I, in my mind, think that he’s going to make a very strong case. I’ve seen him play. He’s going to make a strong case.
“If this decision is easy, he’s staying. I don’t think he’s going to come in and not make a case for himself. I’d be shocked.”
The 6-foot-1, 204-pound German native is coming off his second season with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League where he scored 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games.
“Anybody – fan, coach, manager, media – anybody that tells you that they can tell you definitively whether Leon Draisaitl is ready or not ready, right now, before getting the information at training camp is naïve,” said MacTavish.
With center Sam Gagner gone there is every opportunity for Draisaitl to make this Oilers team. He’ll likely have to compete with Mark Arcobello, but behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a gaping hole at center in Edmonton at the moment.
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