Leon Draisaitl has 18 points during his ten-game scoring streak. Connor McDavid also has 19 points over his ten-game scoring streak.
They have become the most dangerous linemates in the NHL. But Draisaitl isn’t just scoring because he’s playing with McDavid, he’s producing because he is that good.
“He is so dangerous on his backhand, and he sees everything on the ice. It’s amazing,” marveled teammate Darnell Nurse.
Nurse sits beside Draisiatl on the plane and often when watching video he asks Draisaitl what he would do in a certain offensive situation. “I also pick his brain on how to defend offensive guys at different points on the ice. I’ve learned a lot from him on how better to defend guys, and also how to look at things in the offensive zone,” said Nurse.
Ice Nowitski, a nickname German hockey fans have given Draisaitl, turned 21 on October 27th of this season. He’s in his second full NHL campaign and he’s emerging as one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league.
In the past two seasons he has played 150 games and has produced 47 goals, 78 assists and 125 points. He has scored 75 points at 5×5, and McDavid has been in on 23 of those points. To suggest Draisaitl is producing solely because of playing with McDavid is simply overlooking the young German’s talent. McDavid and Draisaitl see the ice in ways many players don’t, and they hang out regularly off the ice.
He is a unique blend of size, skill and smarts, and is one of the best players in the world on his backhand. He creates so many more opportunities from his backhand. And just because you play with elite players doesn’t mean you will produce like Draisaitl has recently with McDavid.
Patrick Maroon is having a career year in goals with 27, but he has 42 points. Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic didn’t score at Draisaitl’s pace with McDavid, and you can look at the names of players who have skated with Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and other elite offensive players, and only the rare player produces at a level like Draisaitl does.
You need to be a great player to produce like Draisaitl, regardless of linemates.
I asked Todd McLellan what he sees in Draisaitl’s play that works so well with McDavid.
“That is a good question, very few can do it,” said McLellan. “First of all there is a camaraderie between the two of them. They have somewhat grown up in the organization together. They look out for each other and they hang out a lot, which gives them extra time to talk and communicate about what they are doing on the ice. Connor’s speed combined with Leon’s passing and ability to slow the game down makes it very tough for the opposition to judge what is coming at them,” said McLellan.
The coach isn’t worried about how long they will play together, as many believe Draisaitl might be a centre long-term.
“We are only worried about what we are doing now. The team building part for the future happens whenever we play our last game, and we are hoping that will be a long time from now. Right now, it is about keeping lines going and we will worry about his future positioning later on,” said McLellan.
Draisaitl and McDavid are shredding the opposition right now. Draisaitl has 5-13-18 in ten games while McDavid has 6-13-19. It is obvious you keep them together and worry about line changes next season. I suspect at some point they will be the first and second line centres, but will still play together on the PP and I’m sure at times, likely on the road, they will play on the same line at five-on-five.
Draisaitl has become the dominant second threat the Oilers needed to compete with the top teams in the NHL, but make no mistake it is a duel threat. Draisaitl is dangerous on his own and he’s capable of driving a line himself, but for now McLellan will run a two-headed monster on his top line and no team in the Pacific Division has been able to slow them down all season.
- McDavid and Draisaitl have combined for 17 goals, 19 assists and 36 points in 13 games versus Calgary, Anaheim and San Jose this season. Right now they are a matchup nightmare for any of those teams.
- I don’t understand why the NHL is the only league who punishes their elite players, by allowing the average ones to get away with a ridiculous amount of obstruction and stick work to slow them down. The league refuses to call the rule book, and the mantra of “play through it” or “toughen up” is simply stupid. Fans pay ridiculous amounts of money to watch players, and if you polled the fans 98% would say they come to watch the star players. Why doesn’t the NHL enforce the rules and force players to keep up or get beat, rather than allow a constant stream of unnecessary stick work?
- Golf fans: I have teamed up with DraftKings and we have a Masters pool for you to join. It is free to play and the 1st place wins $1000. Enter here. Get in before Wednesday at midnight.
- If you haven’t heard yet Oilesnation be throwing a Decade of Darkness RIP party on April 8th at the Pint Downtown. Tickets are now available and they are selling quickly. Come down and celebrate your ability to have made it through the darkness. We can laugh about the decisions to bring in Nikita Nikitin, The Belanger Triangle and other ill-advised moves. You can rid yourself of the memories with your fellow Oilers fans one final time and then look ahead to the playoffs.
- Now that April Fool’s has come and gone, here is the greatest April Fool’s prank I’ve seen.
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