Mark Spector authored an article at Sportnet.ca on Tuesday on the topic of Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers. Spector reassured the Oilers' fan base that Draisaitl will in fact sign with the team. Spector asked "Why on earth would the player ever want to play elsewhere? And why would the team ever allow him to do so?" The answer to those questions is obvious enough. Draisaitl, with an agent acting as either the devil or angel on his shoulder, could end up somewhere else because of something called "money."

Comparisons to Le'Veon Bell in Pittsburgh

That strong relationships can break down over money is clear when one looks at what is transpiring in the NFL right now.

Take the Le'Veon Bell contract situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a point of comparison. Bell has been tagged Pittsburgh's franchise player, but their contract negotiations stalled about a month ago. Things have only gotten rockier ever since between the two groups.

Recently Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, implied that it would be inexperienced to feel comfortable about the situation with Bell. “I think it would be naïve to be comfortable," Tomlin said (qtd. August 11th at NBC Sports' profootballtalk.com).

"If somebody is not (at training camp) working and developing in the formal ways that we subscribe, then there are potential consequences for that. Consequences for him individually. There are consequences for us collectively. So, no I’m not (comfortable).” Those comments don't mean that Bell won't sign with Pittsburgh and Tomlin only seems to be nervous about the ramifications of Bell missing team workouts.

But the pressure and tension mounting in Pittsburgh is clear.

Pressure and tension could mount in Edmonton

Likewise, it's naive for Edmonton fans not to be worried about the Draisaitl situation. Spector's article should not reassure Oilers' fans as it contains some speculation on Draisaitl's state of mind. Spector's bias is that he sees Draisaitl as wanting to play with Connor McDavid and on a winning team.

In regard to the former, Spector asks "On what other team would Draisaitl be able to...play nightly with (Connor McDavid)" or "Get second-line centre minutes with a first-line centre that commands as much attention from opposing lineups as Connor McDavid does?" In regard to winning Spector acknowledges that there are other teams that are contenders for the 2018 Stanley Cup, but he challenges his readers to find "a landing spot for Draisaitl that has a better chance than Edmonton of putting a ring on his finger." In short, Spector argues that Draisaitl should be thinking about playing with McDavid and playing for what he regards as the team most likely to win a championship in the future.

These are positions that Oiler fans that want to live in a bubble would be comfortable with subscribing to as well. But it could be that Draisaitl's camp might just be thinking about money and/or the length of the deal.

Mike Tomlin said it would be "naive" not be uncomfortable with the Pittsburgh Steelers' situation with franchise player Bell. Likewise, it would be naive not to be uncomfortable with the Edmonton Oilers' situation with Draisaitl. A fact of life is that negotiations about money all have the potential to break relationships.

If you agree with that then one question needs to be visited for Oiler fans.

What happens if Edmonton can't come to terms with Leon Draisaitl? He's a restricted free agent so the Oilers have some power in the situation. However, it's now August 15th and preseason games are just weeks away. With that in mind it may be time to visit some scenarios where Draisaitl doesn't join the Oilers.

What would the Oilers lose...and gain?

The big consequence, of course, is the loss of a major talent at the start of his career. Edmonton losing Draisaitl means losing the player that looks like he should be their number-two scorer. The Oilers wouldn't exactly become a crummy team without the German, but saying they lose depth doesn't really describe the situation fully either.

The Oilers would lose an excellent player and that would allow opposing defenses to focus more on McDavid or McDavid's line. There is also the question of who the Oilers would lose Draisaitl to. If they lost him to a divisional rival then losing him might be twice as harsh.

But another consequence is that Edmonton would have a lot of salary open up for other pursuits. Oiler fans are already attached to Draisaitl to a degree and won't want to look at this area yet. Furthermore, there isn't really anyone among the free-agent skaters that compares to Draisaitl. Thomas Vanek is about as good as players get among those still in their prime playing years.

Losing Draisaitl and gaining, at best, Vanek wouldn't be a great exchange for Edmonton at all. So if the Oilers don't sign Draisaitl, for whatever reason, then the Oilers might have to make a budget signing to fill out their roster. There might not be any major talent on the market right now, but the Oilers could bide their time with the team they have. After all, situations will change around the league during the chaos of the regular season.

In as little as two months there will be injuries and teams that will need to wheel and deal to solve problems. There will also be underachieving teams that might be prone to selling early.

Peter Chiarelli, the GM of the Oilers, could use his Draisaitl-less cap space midseason to upgrade with a trade. If Edmonton can't get Draisaitl at the terms that they want then look for the Oilers to look for a seller at some point during the next season. In short, Edmonton fans shouldn't take for granted that Draisaitl will sign. But before hitting the panic button Edmonton fans should take a step back and speculate on the options that would be presented in the future. It's not like Edmonton would be a poor team without Draisaitl. If Edmonton loses him, try to think about the options that will open instead of treating signing Draisaitl like it's sudden-death overtime before the preseason starts.

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