The first big contract decision the Edmonton Oilers will have to make in the near future is that of Leon Draisaitl. Saying, “I’m in Edmonton right now. I want to win a Stanley Cup in Edmonton.”, the German-born center is focused on this season and has admitted little more than that he thinks this team has what it takes to get to the mountain top and that, every once and a while, he thinks about his future like any average person would. He’s not looking to leave and insiders have the odds quite high that he stays.
But, a number of factors go into a player’s decision.
A big extension for Auston Matthews and upcoming deals for the likes of Elias Pettersson, William Nylander, and Elias Lindholm, have to be somewhat in the back of his mind considering he too will have to weigh the pros and cons of sticking with his current NHL club versus seeing what’s out there for a top-tier player on the open market. There will be plenty of suitors and to suggest he could be a $14 million player is not out of the realm of realistic.
Likely to get somewhere between 45 and 60 goals this season (if healthy), he’ll score as he consistently does. Undoubtedly, the Oilers are prepared to give him whatever it takes to keep him in the fold, and guys like McDavid, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse, and others will do what they can do to convince him to stick around. That said, it might not be the money or the company he keeps that becomes the greatest motivating factor in his decision. Instead, as Elliotte Friedman suggests in his latest 32 Thoughts column, it’s the ability to win.
No, not even the prospect of playing his entire NHL career with Connor McDavid is going to be what ultimately keeps him in Edmonton. Friedman writes, “…the Oilers, led by Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, really believe they can win it all. That, more than anything else, is the best recruiter.”
Friedman actually asked Draisaitl what it was going to take and what had to happen to convince him to stay. Is it the chance to win? “Fair statement,” he admitted. He explained:
“We want to win so badly, we talk about it over and over again. But our whole organization wants to win, and that’s the feeling I love the most. Everyone that’s around, the feeling that we have is winning. It will be really, really hard to win next season. But I got all the belief and all the trust in our organization as a whole that we can get it done. And I get the same feeling from everyone in our organization, and that’s a great feeling to have and that’s the best starting point you can have to start a year.”
For the Oilers, that means putting the best team on the ice they can to surround McDavid and Draisaitl and letting the two stars, along with the depth of the team do what they can to get this group over the hump. If they do that, Draisaitl has to look around the NHL in a year’s time and ask himself if there’s another team, that not only has the money and the best player in the world for him to play with, but gives him as good a chance to win as the Oilers do. He would be hard-pressed to find it.
In other words, the best recruiter to keep Draisaitl in Edmonton after his current contract ends, is to keep doing what they’re doing. As long as they’re contenders, there’s no reason for him to ty his luck elsewhere.
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