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Eye issue sidelines Oilers’ Draisaitl for Saturday; beyond that it’s blurry

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 04: Leon Draisaitl #29 of the Edmonton Oilers during a break in play against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place on October 4, 2017 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

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At minimum, we know two things about expensive Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl: he won’t play against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and he’s at least dealing with an eye issue.

Oilers head coach Todd McLellan shared as much on Friday, noting that “You’ll see him walking around today ... he’s the guy with a black eye.”

Beyond that, things are as fuzzy as a failed vision test. McLellan doesn’t yet know if Draisaitl will miss additional time. He did rule out the issue being with his orbital bone, though.

There’s at least some consternation, as the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson reports that Draisaitl may also be dealing with a concussion.

Such concerns haven’t been raised elsewhere just yet, as McLellan’s update is the extent of the official word from the Oilers.

If it’s merely about swelling going down in that black eye, take a look at the Oilers’ next few games:

Sat, Oct 14 vs Ottawa
Tue, Oct 17 vs Carolina
Thu, Oct 19 @ Chicago
Sat, Oct 21 @ Philadelphia
Tue, Oct 24 @ Pittsburgh

The Oilers return to Edmonton on Oct. 26, so there are some logical spots to let Draisaitl heal, depending upon how Edmonton wants to address the situation.

While we’re here, let’s ponder how the big German forward is handling the pressure of that $8.5 million cap hit.

Three solid games

Draisaitl scored a goal and two assists for three points in as many games in this young season. Refreshingly, all three points came at even-strength.

The 21-year-old has been playing a bit more of an offensive role, with 62.2 percent of his shifts starting in the attacking zone (vs. 54 last season) and just 37.8 in the defensive zone (vs. 46 percent in 2016-17). Draisaitl is 24-27 in the faceoff circle so far.

The Oilers have made the decision to line him up with Connor McDavid this season, and they haven’t really wavered so far. Almost 40 of his even-strength minutes came with number 97, while a little less than five minutes were without him.

So, yes, to some extent you have to weigh that vs. asking Draisaitl to carry a line of his own.

Speaking of lining up, intriguing 2017 first-rounder Kailer Yamamoto could really get a taste of the turbulence that comes with being a young player in the NHL. One day, he’s a healthy scratch; the next, he might be on a line with McDavid and Patrick Maroon.

Hey, if this is only a minor hiccup for Draisaitl, this forced experiment might just help the Oilers spread the wealth down their lineup. Stranger things have happened.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.