After he sat out practice on Monday, Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has been placed on the injured reserve list.
The 21-year-old did not skate when the Oilers lost 6-1 to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and was evaluated for an eye injury and concussion-like symptoms. He sustained the injury when Edmonton took on the Winnipeg Jets on October 9.
“The first two and a half days we were talking about Leon he had a black eye and his vision wasn’t good enough to be on the ice,” said head coach Todd McLellan. “The trainers weren’t telling me about a potential concussion, but as time wore on the eye got better and he didn’t feel right.”
Draisaitl has a goal and two assists in three games this season. He signed an eight-year contract in the summer and will earn an average of $8.5 million a year.
But his Oilers are struggling out of the gate and losing a top scorer won’t help matters.
Edmonton is 1-3-0 thus far, good for sixth in the Pacific Division. They’ve scored just eight goals so far, which is an interesting statistic given that even the winless Arizona Coyotes have scored 11 goals.
Draisaitl’s linemate Connor McDavid has five points in four games and has been leading the charge for the Oilers, while Patrick Maroon is third on the team with three assists. Jussi Jokinen, Oscar Klefbom and Ryan Strome are without points, while goalie Cam Talbot has allowed a dozen goals in four games.
It is much too early to panic in Edmonton, of course, but this injury doesn’t help. At all.
The Oilers have been playing some decent hockey in places and their scoring chances are roughly on par with last season, which is a comforting thought if you dig deep into the numbers. That means things could turn around at any given moment and the club could start tilting the difference again.
If Talbot turns his game around and if the Oilers can generate some secondary scoring in Draisaitl’s absence, it should pan out. But hockey can be a tricky game and things can change in an instant, which means Edmonton would do well to tighten up against Carolina on Tuesday night and start piling together some momentum-generating wins.