There were anxious moments for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans Friday in Penticton, B.C., when Leon Draisaitl, the club’s third overall pick in June’s draft, appeared to suffer a leg injury.
It happened in the third period of a Young Stars Tournament game between the Oilers prospects and Vancouver Canucks prospects.
Draisaitl appeared to injure his right leg on a hit involving Canucks’ 2012 first-round pick Brendan Gaunce. Draisaitl immediately began favoring the leg, was tended to on the bench by members of Edmonton’s training staff and missed a few shifts in the third period.
Following the game, a 4-3 overtime win for the Oilers’ group of rookies, Draisaitl called his ailment a cramp, according to the Oilers Twitter account.
“I don’t really know exactly what it was to be honest. Every time I hit someone, I just totally froze up. My leg … I couldn’t even bend my legs,” said Draisaitl told a couple of reporters Saturday morning.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure what it was.”
He did ultimately finish the game, although it didn’t seem to make sense as to why a high-end prospect clearly not at full capacity at the time was still playing. It’s September. This isn’t a Game 7 situation in a playoff series.
The positive: Draisaitl took the morning skate on Saturday. But he won’t play later in the evening, when the Oilers prospects take on the Calgary Flames prospects. It’s the Battle of Alberta…in British Columbia!
Draisaitl admitted, however, he is concerned over the pain he experienced Friday.
“I totally was. I still am. I felt good out there but still I could feel it. I’m still really tight in my muscles,” said Draisaitl, who signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers in August.
“It’s definitely not something I don’t have to worry about.”
Last month, a report surfaced that if Draisaitl doesn’t make the Oilers, he could be sent to Europe to play over there, rather than go back to Prince Albert and the WHL.
It sounds like the Oilers very much intend to give Draisaitl a strong look at perhaps earning a roster spot in training camp.
“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make a strong case,” Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said last month.
“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.”