Or do they start in the AHL?
I believe the answer isn't whether they should be on the team, because they will, eventually, but it really comes down to asset and cap management.
On Draisaitl, many believe he's on the team in October and the forward lines are:
Pouliot - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Hall - McDavid - Purcell
Draisaitl - Lander - Yakupov
Korpikoski - Letestu - Hendricks
But there you have Klinkhammer, Pitlick, and Gazdic on one-way contracts with Anton Shlepeshev now around as an AHLer as well, and Andrew Miller, etc.
Then there's that fat Purcell $4.5 million contract just waiting to explode into 4.5 million tiny puck pieces. He's UFA at the end of the year so the sooner you trade him the better.
With that, I strongly believe Peter Chiarelli will want Purcell to play with Hall and McDavid, get lots of points, and up his value for a trade for draft picks and a cap dump come December. Meanwhile Draisaitl will have gained a lot of confidence and skill in Bakersfield so he can easily slide into the wing or centre the 3rd line and move Lander to the left wing.
For Nurse, there's a lot of competition on defense now.. finally, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many left-shot guys (which is why it made total sense to trade Petry, right?)
Sekera - Fayne
Klefbom - Schultz
Nikitin - Ference
Reinhart - Gryba
Nurse - Davidson
"Somebody gonna get hurt (i.e. traded) real bad!" And that someone is Nikitin with this equally fat ass contract. But again, look for Chiarelli to up his value with play time and trade that monkey for a whole pile of pucks and things.
With Purcell and Nikitin gone, you have cleared up $9 million dollars. NINE MILLION. Now, you can aggressively go after that elusive top defensemen and trade those picks to a team that also needs to dump salary.
And yes, I'm thinking Seabrook. Of course I am. Who isn't? But that whole Kane thing is now up in the air and the rumour is the Hawks are entertaining trading him, which clears a bazzillllion dollars for the Hawks so they can resign Seabrook.
My point is, Chiarelli needs to manage assets and cap space to make room and up values of players by giving them minutes and shiny things like McDavid.
Because if Purcell and Nikitin don't up their game, their value drops dramatically and their wives will be pissed! The Oilers don't need them now that they've loaded up on decent assets, so it's do or die.
And that new incentive at training camp and pre-trade deadline is something the Oilers didn't really have before in a long time.
So with that, unless Chia Pete can trade those guys right off the bat for value picks, you dump them.
It's not that Nurse or Draisaitl don't deserve to be on the team--I think they do, but they're pretty much still rookies and the Oilers don't exactly have a lot of senior veterans. That aside, I maintain Draisaitl and Nurse will start the year in Bakersfield--dominate the heck out of the league there, then get called up when Purcell and Nikitin get dumped, which I predict will be around November/December.
You heard it here first folks!