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What Did Draisaitl Mean By, ‘Going To Do What’s Best for Me’?

Fans and media are trying to read into comments Leon Draisaitl made ‘do what’s best for me’, but let’s look at what we actually know.

Leon Draisaitl’s response to questions thrown his way by Mark Spector of Sportsnet this past week have Oilers Nation fired up. Fans are concerned for different reasons. Some don’t love that the Edmonton Oilers’ star was asked about his contract so far from needing to sign it. Others don’t love that Draisaitl didn’t sing the praises of the organization and shout it from the rooftop how much he loved it in Edmonton. Some just don’t like that the fact he didn’t do so was spun in a narrative that suggests commenting he would ‘do what’s best for me’ was saying he’s potentially thinking about leaving.

What Draisaitl said, however, was that he’s trying to win with the Oilers and with Connor McDavid. From there, he noted that when it’s time to talk contract, there’s a lot that will go into it. At that time, he’ll factor in everything and that, “At the end of the day, he’s [McDavid] going to do what’s best for him, and I’m going to have to do the same thing for me,”

Fans and media members are dissecting and analyzing what he did and didn’t say, trying to get a read on his thought process. It’s probably an exercise in futility. And, since we’ll never know what he was really trying to say — assuming there was some sort of hidden meaning — I have a different question.

What is best for Draisaitl?

Where Is Draisaitl Best Suited to Play Long-Term?

Clearly, I can’t read the mind of a player like Leon Draisaitl. But, if we look at a few key factors, it doesn’t take a ton of guessing to see that the Oilers remain one of his best options on a long-term deal.

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First, if he values playing with Connor McDavid, there’s only one place he can do that — Edmonton. Sure, one could argue Draisaitl could leave and then McDavid follow, but the likelihood of that is astronomically low. Sorting that out would take finding a team with cap space, a better chance to win, and that’s in a city they both want to play (and potentially live) in.

Leon Draisaitl Trade rumors Oilers

Second, if he wants his money, he’ll probably get it with the Oilers. Things could obviously change over the course of the next few months, but should the team continue on its run, he be a big part of that, and the cap keep going up, both sides should be able to find a way to get a deal done. Again, the Oilers might have to make a few contract sacrifices to keep both Draisaitl and McDavid, but such is the case anywhere these two wind up. You don’t pay between $26 and $30 million for two players and expect there not to be casualties.

Third, this is the place Draisaitl knows. He’s spent his career here. The franchise has been good to him and he’s comfortable.

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener: ‘Best For Me’ Might Be Edmonton

If Draisaitl chooses to explore free agency, which will be his right in the offseason of 2025, he’ll get to choose his next landing spot. Teams and players have learned searching for something somewhere else doesn’t always work out. It’s not as though he’ll have 31 options to choose from. There will be about 5-8 teams that can fit his contract. From there, we can assume half of those teams won’t be on his radar.

To me, there are only two reasons Draisaitl would contemplate leaving when it’s time to make up his mind. Either he doesn’t like it in Edmonton. Or, the team wants to spend around $13 million in other ways and he knows his time is coming to an end if he’s not open to a team-friendly deal.

Next: Canadiens’ Plan Predicts Sean Monahan as First Deadline Trade



  1. Pingback: What Did Draisaitl Mean By, ‘Going To Do What’s Best for Me’? Its Playoff Hockey Fantasy Hockey News – Its Playoff Hockey

  2. Stan Smith

    January 12, 2024 at 10:28 am

    The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw Draisaitl’s statement was this is a player who wants out of Edmonton.

    • Shane Ducholke

      January 12, 2024 at 3:00 pm

      Draisaitl has never indicated anything about wanting our of Edmonton in the past and he is in one of the best positions to win a cup as an Oiler. That is the thinking of a pessimistic Oilers fan.

  3. Chris

    January 12, 2024 at 11:13 am

    I think you missed a really obvious one and that’s because he doesn’t think he can win a cup in Edmonton.

  4. Shane Ducholke

    January 12, 2024 at 3:32 pm

    The typical pessimistic Oilers fan would interpret those comments as he wants out of Edmonton, but he is too close to too many players for him even to consider that and Leon is not the type of person to have a “need” to be the best player on the team. His best chance to win a cup is with the Oilers because any other team he would sign with would have to dump other contracts to fit him in under the cap, so it doesn’t make that team much, if any, better than Edmonton.

    One possibility is that Leons comments were not meant for the fans, but to other players and the NHLPA, who always want players to get as much money as possible in order to drive up the salaries of all the other players. The problem with the NHL right now is that salaries are increasing significantly faster than. The cap and even with the cap expected to rise quite a bit moving forward, a jump of $5MM doesn’t cover the increase the players are getting. This means teams have to reduce depth in order to sign elite players and that lack of depth makes it more of a crap-shoot to win the cup.

    NBA players have banded together to demand trades to specific teams so they can build a winning team with other elite players. The difference is that the NBA has a high enough cap to still pay huge salaries,the NHL does not have that luxury. The only way NHL players can band together and give themselves the best chance to win a a Stanley Cup is to take discounts on short term deals after already cashing in on one large contract.

    Draisaitl has already made over $60MM, and McDavid has already made close to $100MM. They are future hal of famers and the only thing missing from their resume is a cup. The best chance for them to win a cup is to allow the Oilers to fill out as much depth as possible, add another high end dman and add another high end goalie. As everyone knows, the playoff contending teams still all have one or two big weaknesses and they always will because of the salary cap. If winning the cup is important to them, they that have to make the decision that is best for them and that would be to give the Oilers the flexibility to fill in their weaknesses.

    The best way for them to do that is for Draisaitl to sign a 1 year deal at the same cap hit and then the following year, both Leon and Connor sign for a 1 year term at a significant discount. Their best opportunity to win a cup faster and still maximize their earnings for their career is to sign for $2-3MM for one year instead of a combined $28MM, which gives the Oilers an additional $22MM to improve the team unlike any other team would be able to do. I also think it would not be that difficult to sign a few other high end players at bargain deals for 1 year at a time to allow them the best chance to finally win a cup.

    If the Oilers win the cup, then those players can sign their huge contracts. Draisaitl will get his $100MM contact and McDavid will get a $120MM contract. If it takes 2 years at a reduced salary, they will still sign the same contracts. If they sign the big contacts now, when they expire they will be taking a pay cut do to their age, so they are not losing as much career earnings as one might think.

    If you talk to any hockey player that had a long career, but never won a cup, all of them would tell you they would ha e played a season or two at league minimum if they could have one it all. Draisaitl and McDavid are two 9f the most competitive players in the league and they know it’s harder to win a cup today than it ever has and now is the best time to control that outcome as much as possible. McDavid already took a pay cut on his last contract, wanting to take less to give the team more cap flexibility so there is no reason to think he wouldn’t again. The difference is that both of them now know that the more cap flexibility they have, the odds of winning the cup increase astronomically.

    Maybe I’m just dreaming, but if a player that makes over $170MM in their career would likely be much more satisfied if they made $160MM but have a Stanley Cup as that will help cement their legacy as being one of the best players of their generation.

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