Leon Draisaitl’s WHL rights will be traded in the very near future, Raiders general manager Bruno Campese said Tuesday.
“We’re in the process of moving Leon’s rights,” said Campese, “We’re looking at some different options.”
Prince Albert Raiders centre Leon Draisaitl inked a three-year entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers in August. Draisaitl was selected by the Oilers third overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia in June. Herald photo by Perry Bergson
The WHL’s trade deadline is on Jan. 10, but in all likelihood, Draisaitl’s rights will be sent away before then.
On Tuesday, sources connected with the Edmonton Oilers and Kelowna Rockets indicated that a deal to move Draisaitl, currently playing with the Oilers, to the Rockets had been completed in principle, and would be officially announced in the coming days. The reports stated that the Oilers would release Draisaitl back to the WHL by Saturday and that when reassigned, he would be playing for the league-leading Rockets.
Campese did not directly address the rumours, but stressed that he was still talking to multiple teams about acquiring Draisaitl and that a deal will be announced when the package in return for the German forward’s rights is appropriate.
The Oilers opted to keep Draisaitl — the third overall pick in the 2014 NHL entry draft — on their roster at the beginning of the season, and have resisted calls to return him to junior up to now despite his and the team’s struggles. Campese said there was never much chance Draisaitl would be back in P.A. this season.
“I think the plan from (the Oilers’) mindset is to keep him. If not, they’d like to see him in a situation where he’s potentially having a chance to play for a (Memorial) Cup contender. That is why we know his rights are going to be moved here one way or another,” said Campese.
One report indicating an imminent Draisaitl-to-Kelowna move suggested such a agreement was built into the Josh Morrissey deal from early December that saw the Raiders deal their captain to the Rockets for two roster-ready players and two draft picks.
“The deals are not tied in,” said Campese, “I’ve had multiple talks with multiple teams over both of those guys.”
Campese said when a deal does go down, he will be looking to get a similar haul as he did for Morrissey.
The reason a Draisaitl deal is likely by Saturday is that under the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, if a player is on a team’s roster when it reaches its 40th game of the season, that season is accrued and puts the player closer to unrestricted free agency. If the player is returned to junior after 39 games or fewer, the team’s control over a player’s rights will extend one year further.
Edmonton plays its 40th game of the season on Sunday.
Draisaitl has two goals and seven points over 36 games in this his rookie season. The Oilers sit in last place in the league.
Draisaitl spent the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons with the Raiders after being selected in the CHL Import Draft out of Cologne, Germany. Last season he led the Raiders in scoring with 105 points in 64 games.
The reports suggesting a Draisaitl-to-Kelowna deal is done make note of forward Kris Schmidli as being one piece that could be coming back to P.A. Schmidli, currently playing for Switzerland at the World Junior HockeyChampionship, has 17 points in 33 games with Kelowna this season.