Leon Draisaitl is out-scoring Alex Ovechkin & Sidney Crosby

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With a four point night against the New York Rangers on Friday, Leon Draisaitl climbed a bunch of spots on the NHL scoring list, moving into a tie for No. 20 overall with 26 points in just 20 contests.

It’s been crazy. After a year in which everything went wrong, things are suddenly going very, very right. So right that when Draisaitl looks at the NHL scoring list, he can see Alex Ovechkin (25 points) and Sidney Crosby (19 points) in the rearview mirror.

Everything Has Gone Right

14-Eberle-13

It certainly has. This is a little like Eberle’s big year in 2011-12 in that there’s obviously a very talented player driving the results but there’s some lucky wind in those sails, too. Draisaitl has nine goals on just 44 shots; it’s generally pretty hard to sustain a 20.5 shooting percentage. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve a break, as last season he shot at just a 4.1 percent clip, but it is to say that we should expect the goal-scoring to cool off a little bit.

Unsurprisingly, Edmonton’s on-ice shooting percentage as a team is high when Draisaitl’s on the ice, leading to lots of goals to get points on. He’s also collecting a point almost every time his team scores a goal; that’s often something that even really good forwards struggle to keep going long-term.

Get to the Good Stuff!

Draisaitl, Leon

But honestly, so what?

Yes, everyone mentally setting this as the new baseline for Draisaitl is likely to end up disappointed in the not-too-distant future. That’s not the point. The point is that even after pessimistically cutting down his shooting percentage and his on-ice shooting percentage and recalibrating for his inflated individual points percentage… this is a staggeringly good season.

Imagine a pessimistic world where one-third of Draisaitl’s points vanish in a puff of smoke. Even in that world he’d have 17 points in 20 games, putting him on pace to top 70 points over a full 82-game season. All of a sudden he’s a big, fast, strong centre scoring at a 70-point pace at the age of 20 while playing tough opposition. That’s an incredible player; after all, Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Getzlaf were 70-point players last season. They don’t exactly grow on trees.

Draisaitl is visibly faster than he was a year ago. His strength against established NHL’ers is so obvious as to be impossible to miss. His playmaking ability is so good that comparisons to Joe Thornton are not crazy. He plays a shockingly mature defensive game for a player of his age and experience level. That’s a fantastic combination of attributes.

His on-ice shot metrics (Corsi and the like) look really strong, too.

After a tough 2014-15 season, Draisaitl could have gone a number of different directions. Another poor campaign would have raised questions about his future and had fans pining for someone like Calgary’s Sam Bennett. Instead, he’s come back strong and given Edmonton the kind of centre depth it hasn’t seen since Glen Sather was general manager.

All this probably sounds a little breathless, maybe a little over-the-top. It should sound that way. Draisaitl is so far past any reasonable expectation of what he’d look like in the early going this year that it’s hard to overstate things. 

Draft Lottery

It’s probably not quite on par with the Oilers winning the Connor McDavid lottery in terms of franchise impact, but it’s perhaps even less likely.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • .

    Interesting stat: Draisaitl has played 20 games, during which the Oilers have 58 goals and Drai’s got 26 points–put differently, he’s been in on 45% of all goals with at least a point.

    For context, when Gretzky scored 215 pts and the Oilers scored 426 goals as a team, in 19-8586, Gretz was contributing to 51% of all goals with at least a point.

  • toprightcorner

    Other than Draisaitls obvious improvement in his skating, the biggest thing I have noticed is that he does not hold on to the puck very long like he tended to do last year. He gets it and makes a quick play which buys so much time for everyone else.

    Draisaitl, Hall and Purcell can make 4-5 passes in 10 seconds, the defense gets all mixed up, leaving someone open and the next thing you know the puck is in the net. You just cant defend against that type of play.

  • toprightcorner

    The other comparison to Big Joe Thornton is that Joe had only 7 pts in 55 games in his first season. After that he went 41, 60 and then over a point per game player after that. I believe Neon Leon will follow in his footsteps and will be a close to a point per game player for the next 10-12 years

  • Blackgold

    Neon Leon had even a write up in a big german daily paper dubbing him the NHL’s Nowitzki. A little overboard since Nowitzki has a career of ~18 years. Other than that an alright article. Hope they get a good Roadtrip going and beat the heavy Hitters in their own Arenas.

  • camdog

    A lot of talk about RnH being too expensive to play on the third line. I haven’t heard anybody in Oilers management/coaches state or hint that they expect RnH to play on the third line for any extended period of time.

    The coach did hint that he views RnH as a Pavelski type of player. A player that started his career at centre and whom he moved to the wing. The organisation still has not determined what they are going to do with some of their players. There are still too many variables in play to make a guess. I know a few pretend to know what the cap is going to be in 2-3 years, but the reality is nobody really knows.

    • Justin R

      ^^^^^^^ so true. LD appears to be better than Nuge on faceoffs, is also pretty good defensively (though not yet as good as nuge) try a top 6 of
      TH LD RNH
      BP CM EBS

      Always keep talented C’s

      • bazmagoo

        I’m wondering if they try McDavid – Nuge – Eberle when Connor returns. I don’t think you change the Hall – Leon – Teddy line, the chemistry they are feeling is incredible to watch. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

  • toprightcorner

    The lack of ability to understand.

    Every one talks top 6!

    But!

    Many of the coaches and gm’s you see are disciples of Scotty Bowman who still believes in offensive pairs. With a strong pocession Forward.

    Not lines 3 players

    but pairs. 2 Players with a retrieval player.

    Hall-Draisatl-XXX 2y @9.4M; 3yr @12M

    Pouliot-Mcdavid-XXX 3yr @7.775M; 1yr @13M

    XXX-RNH-Eberle 4yr @12M

  • THRNHJE

    My boy Leon. Never doubted his abilities for a second. The kid is as driven as mcdavid. Saw him play world juniors for deuchland and man was he good. I was ecstatic when Edmonton picked him. I knew what he would become. Smart, big body centre men the oilers needed! Well folks he had arrived! Even going beyond my own expectations.

    I knew he was good but never thought this good!