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

    • The Soup Fascist

      I knew there was a problem with Eakins when he took away the donuts.

      Mmmm ……. Donuts.

      Eakins, was out to prove he was smarter than everyone else. Those situations rarely end well. TMac has been a breath of fresh air ….. And yes, I thought that before the recent home stand.

      This team still has warts but suffice to say, coaching isn’t one of them. (Except for leaving Schultz on the powerplay ….. But I digress).

      • Craig1981

        LOL….yes the Great Donut Caper goes down in NHL history….lol….did you know if you spell Dallas Eakins backwards…co-incidentally…is looks like SNEAKY SALAD…snikaE sallaD…..lol…just saying.It was more than the donuts/sallaD it had “a little something” maybe to do with the Sneaky/snikaE parts, and it was pre-destined and pre-written…..lol.

      • Anton CP

        Eakins wouldn’t have been in any position to assert his smartness if it wasn’t for genius Craig MacTavish. Not only was MacT out to prove himself smarter – – – he didn’t want anyone around with a lick of smarts to show him anything lest he get replaced with them.

        Eakins replaced the old photos with the following phrase:

        Stultus populus obtusius conducere populus

        (Stupid people hire stupider people).

    • Before Ze Germans get here

      Ryan Smyth made a couple of comments this week about Eakins clearing out of everything honoring tradition the Oil had in the dressing room. I was shocked Lowe/McT let him come in and show such total disregard for the Oiler tradition. Having Eakins in Edmonton was the equivalent of ‘barbarian’s at the gate’. Smyth also referenced last year’s commemoration of the ’84 to ’04 teams and the missed opportunity to pass on tradition to current players. Clearly Eakins resented the former dynasty.

      Teddy Purcell’s uptick is really something. He is a highly complimentary player right now. Hall has credited Purcell a couple of times for the puck plays he has made and how he fits with Drats and Hall. My cynical side wonders if he is amping things up hoping for another contract. My hope is the coaches are helping him and he stays on a value contract for maybe 2 years tops. Rehabbing some flawed performers may say more about coaching and renewed development strategies. See Kaira, Pekarinen and the young D.

  • lucky

    Willis is wrong! Let’s raise our expectations for this pace of scoring to be the norm from him! When he fails to live up to the hype we should run him out of town. I’m only glad he’s found home next to Taylor “terrible attitude” Hall. Draisaitl has been able to drag that plug of a winger along with him, to a top 5 scoring place in the NHL….
    Any way, now that Draisaitl has emerged as Anze Kopitar on offensive steroids, we can trade that ‘soft two way’ 22 year old Center who also on pace for over 60 points.

    Things are only looking up as long as the Oilers keep winning! When they turn bad again, we can run all these kids out of town in HF boards trades for Shea Weber and PK Subban!

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      the only reason fans were so butthurt about us taking Leon over Bennett was because Bennett had been ranked #1 on some hockey lists and Leon never was so therefore we made the “wrong” choice. i couldn’t disagree more!

      the reason is that with Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Leon, you were getting fairly equal talents, but in Leon’s case a large center, which is what this team needed on the top 2 lines in like forever. with talent this close, there really wasn’t any “wrong” choice and in this case it was a good move in my opinion to take for “need”.

    • bazmagoo

      I thought the same too at the time, partly because Bennett was being compared to Gilmour and Toews but mainly because of the bozos in charge at the time. Totally happy to admit I was wrong, Leon is a stud!

        • Before Ze Germans get here

          Fair enough, Bennett is looking really good. But we drafted the right player for what we needed. Even if Bennett becomes an absolute stud, Leon fits better with where we were lacking.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          and most Oiler fans like me know this. i know that Bennett is a wonderful talent, but i am doubting that Bennett, Leon or Sam Reinhart will actually out perform the other during their NHL careers due to the fact i think they are equal in talent, in my opinion.

  • Before Ze Germans get here

    Great article. Drai is scoring in the range of these other players because he is as good as these other players. Fantastic talent. Yes he may have cold nights but so do all, it’s not fluke, he is for real. Great blog on Hall yesterday as well.

    It’s time everyone stops prefacing their comments with “they are still a bad team but….” Or “this not sustainable but….” I notice so many bloggers and posters so gun shy they are scared to believe .

    This is a good team, growing every night. Injuries have become a blessing in disguise. Drai emerged from under Connors pre season shadow. Management has looked and re evaluated every player and most prospects. Now the building of lines and chemistry looks to be coming together. Exciting times ahead.

    • Serious Gord

      Well said. I wonder what nonsense all of these analytic gurus would have said about Gretzky and company, Orr, Richard. Someone has “out of the ordinary” success and you always have to bring it down. Will it last – who knows, but how about enjoying it while it is here. Who knows, you may be a witness to something special. But according to you, probably not.

    • Serious Gord

      As Johnathon points out, his point stats overstate his goodness. He’s a very good player – maybe he will develop into a great player. He is on a great roll.

      Ditto the team. In many aspects they are playing about as good as they can – at home at least. But they are still a below average team. That may be changing – let’s see what the remainder of December reveals.

  • Anton CP

    This 5 games winning streak has everything.

    Beating both Chiarelli and McLellan’s former team, beating the best team in the league. “Connor is better!” chant beating Eichel. Sather honored tonight with 80s style game by beating his current team.

    • toprightcorner

      The ones we have remediated are now educated….to the rest….just tell them to listen for the Rolling Thunder…and they will have tme to either buckle up or turn it in and fold easy when they hear it…because NOW when they see the Oil-drop on their Calenders they will know that Something Wicked Walks This Way….lol.

      Just tell em all we’re coming….ALL OF US TOGETHER…and you dont know why, but it doesnt look good.lol.

  • Chet.

    Why do people still want to trade our better players? The team is winning, the boys are confident, why not just enjoy the games?

    Also, it’s great we aren’t hearing any more “Should have taken Bennett instead” comments.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Blah blah blah law of averages blah blah.
    Blah blah regression to the mean blah blah blah blah.

    When it comes down to it, all the credit belongs to Leon. He learned and grew from last year. He worked hard in the summer. He bounced back. And then he bounced back again after getting cut in camp. He’s a fantastic player. And he’s focused and performing well.

    Credit should also go to Taylor Hall and Teddy Purcell. Good chemistry. And of course McLellan and the rest of the coaching staff for obviously unlocking something in his game at the NHL level.