Leon Draisaitl is out-scoring Alex Ovechkin & Sidney Crosby

29-Draisaitl-4

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



  • Danglishish

    Good to see the trolls are out this morning. Poopypants, formerly known as soiled trousers, and his alter ego simmer, up to his regular garbage on trading our ‘soft’ players. What a clown.

  • 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.

  • 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

      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.

    • 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.

  • THRNHJE

    Everyone talking about lineups after MacD comes back: players with good chemistry paired together. Pairs then fill in the blanks.

    Hall-Drai
    MacD-Yak
    RNH-Ebs (just cause they’re running a touch cold right now does not change the years they’ve proven to be a good pairing).

    I fill Purcell in with hall drai for obvious reasons.

    I put JJ Khaira in with MacYak attack because he can play, keep the cycle alive, and keep the opposing players honest.

    Our top line last year when Hall was injured as our ‘3’ line? Yes please. On the road the opposing coaches feed RNH ebs and poo super soft minutes and they flourish, and at home they take on the toughs leaving the other lines to dominate.

    The future is bright. What’s MacD’s timeline again?

    • Blackgold

      Agree with the pairing as does McLellan. Also was the same for Gretz/Kurri; Messier/Anderson. Filled in with different players over the years. Wouldn’t put JJ Khaira with Mac/Yak as too young a group. 2 rookies on same line is tough. Would put Purcell with Hall/Drai for now because it is going good. Purcell needs to be traded, still not impressed. Pouliot with Mac/Yak, and JJ Khaira with RNH/Eberle. Then have as your 4th line Hendricks, Letesiu, Pakerenien, with Korp and Klinkhammer as extras. Lander traded, or you put JJ Khaira back down and put Korp with RNH/Eberle and keep Lander as an extra forward.

      • McWeber

        Re: Yak/McD/Khaira; I enjoy watching kid lines. They bring a ton of energy, and with the skill of McD, they would be fun to watch.

        Khaira had been able to skate at an NHL level, and can win a few battles. Plus he doesn’t back down from anyone. I’d try it a few games.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I remember people bitching that Bennett was ranked higher than Leon, that we took the 4th ranked skater with the 3rd overall pick. To that I say, HA.

  • McWeber

    I don’t get why everyone can’t wait to see Eberle on Mcdavids wing. Yak was magic there, he looked confident and was making great plays. All he’s ever wanted was a skilled center he could gel with and whenever he’s been giving that he has looked like a top 6 forward. Eberle has a history of chemistry with Nuge and honestly hasn’t done anything this season to warrant exiling yak to the letestu line. Nail is a faster skater and plays a harder game, the chemistry was obvious before Connor went down to injury. Connor seems to know how to use Yak as the offensive weapon he always had the potential to be.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      Now if only Yak and Ebs both find a way to play with McD. Can either be effective on LW?

      Hall-RNH-Drai
      Ebs-McD-Yak
      Pou-Lander-Purcell
      Hendricks-Letestu-Korpi

      • The Soup Fascist

        Yak has played as a LW but by eye he seems to migrate to RW. That may be a lot of chaos for a rookie – even McD – to absorb.

        This line would be a threat to score ……. at both ends of the ice.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    What happens when everyone is healthy? I’m thinking we are just starting to see a team that is playing the system like a team………soon we will have too many players for positions.

    Must be dreaming!

    • 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!

        • 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

          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

      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”.

  • .

    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.

  • 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.

  • Craig1981

    Draisaitl doing as he seems to do with every league he went into . First year mediocer and then bust out big the second season . Ditto again this year . Size matters by the looks of it !

  • The Soup Fascist

    “This may seem like an odd question but do you like Bacon?”

    Without question, my FAVORITE New Age Sys comment, ever. I may get a T-shirt made with this question on it as a Christmas present to myself.

  • Petrolero

    I was not one who said that they should trade Drai. You shouldn’t move young blue-chip prospects.

    But I was one who thought he would benefit from a season in the AHL. Apparently Drai disagreed with me and showed he belongs in the NHL now. Heck, he and Hall belong on the All-Star team. And not because of the pity rule that forces the NHL to invite an Oiler. Because they’ve earned it.

    It’s been a remarkable 20 games.

  • Petrolero

    For all the complaints about lack of scoring in the NHL right now there are three players on pace for 100 points or more: Ben Seguin and Kane. And let’s not forget Taylor hall is currently 4th in scoring in the entire league. But fcku it trade that guy right?

  • 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.