Oilers Aren’t Trading Leon Draisaitl

It started with a tweet, and it snowballed. On the eve of free agency, NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton suggested it’s possible that the Edmonton Oilers are shopping restricted free agent (RFA) Leon Draisaitl. Rumors are running rampant, and even TSN insider Ryan Rishaug stated there was the potential for a predatory offer sheet that would force the Oilers into a precarious cap situation.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Drasaitl, 21, just wrapped up his entry-level contract (ELC) and scored 50 goals and 137 points in 191 games over that deal. Last season, Draisaitl finished eighth in league scoring with 77 points and was dynamite in the playoffs. Now that he’s emerged as one of the top ten players in the world, the initial asking price in negotiations has naturally skyrocketed.

Chiarelli: Oilers Not Shopping Draisaitl

It seems that imaginations are running wild, and one of the scenarios that caught fire is a trade with the Colorado Avalanche, with Matt Duchene coming to Edmonton. It’s got so out of hand that Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli, who stays relatively quiet in the media about potential trades and negotiations, spoke to TSN’s Darren Dreger to clear the air.

Regardless of whether there is an offer sheet or the Oilers have to swallow his contract demands, Chiarelli is adamant that Edmonton will not deal Draisaitl. Despite this news from the Oilers GM, Lawton went on to state he’s confirmed interest from more than one team in a trade or offer sheet scenario.

However, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples brings forward an interesting point — Draisaitl’s agent, Mike Liut, works for Octagon Sports & Entertainment Agency, and Lawton used to be an agent there as well.

Chiarelli has adamantly denied the Oilers are shopping Draisaitl. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Is it possible that this is a negotiation ploy to pressure the Oilers into accepting a deal? The $9.8 million per season being thrown around is an awful lot for the Oilers to stomach, but run a quick Google search on Shea Weber and even Steven Stamkos’s initial asking price, and you’ll see how the negotiation process evolves.

Remember Stamkos was looking to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane as comparable contracts and wanted $10.5 million per season. He eventually signed for $8.5 million per season. It’s likely that as the process unfolds, that initial number is going to come down. The real question is what is Draisaitl’s actual number? The negotiation tactic is clear — aim high and settle where you wanted to be after all.

Edmonton Will Sign Draisaitl… Eventually

Chiarelli knows that if Draisaitl’s camp is going to play hardball, this could be a long, drawn out negotiation. It’s not the first time talks with a star player have dragged on.

In 2014, the Montreal Canadiens didn’t have a deal with PK Subban until August. Last season the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t have a deal with Nikita Kucherov until October. Even the Calgary Flames had long drawn out negotiations last season with Sean Monahan (signed in August) and Johnny Gaudreau (signed in October).

There’s no need to push the panic button if negotiations with Draisaitl’s camp drag on. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

The point is that sometimes contract disputes take a while to settle. Draisaitl doesn’t have arbitration rights to mediate a deal, but his agent has a reputation for being a tough negotiator. Liut is the managing director of Octagon’s hockey division along with Allan Walsh. Those two are some of the sharpest agents representing talent in the NHL.

There is a deal that will come to fruition, eventually. As far as the speculation that the Oilers are quietly shopping Draisaitl goes, it doesn’t any make sense for Edmonton to trade one of the top ten scorers in the league to a Western Conference or divisional foe.