Leon Draisaitl had a remarkable 2019 NHL season. He scored 50 goals and 105 points to finish fourth in NHL scoring. He logged the most minutes of any NHL forward with 1,852:27 and only Connor McDavid averaged more TOI/game than Draisaitl. (McDavid missed four games which is why Draisaitl had the most TOI).
Draisaitl became only the eighth player in the past 20 NHL seasons to score 50 goals and 100 points in the same season, joining Alex Ovechkin (4x, 2006, 2008-2010), Jaromir Jagr (2001, 2006), Dany Heatley (2006, 2007), Joe Sakic (2001), Vincent Lecavalier (2007), Sidney Crosby (2010) and Evgeni Malkin (2012).
He is in pretty good company, but what is most surprising about his season is how he scored 50 goals on only 231 shots. That was the fewest shots for a 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely scored 50 goals on 185 shots in only 49 games in 1992. Neely’s shot total is the third lowest all-time behind Craig Simpson (56 goals on 177 shots in 1988) and Charlie Simmer (56 goals on 171 shots in 65 games in 1981). Maurice Richard scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1944, but they didn’t track shots on goal then.
Draisaitl wasn’t a high-volume shooter, although he did shoot more from January 1st to the end of the season, 2.97 shots/game, compared to 2.64 shots/game in the first three months of the season. Draisaitl was red-hot in 2019, leading the league with 29 goals after January 1st. Alex Ovechkin, who led the league with 51 goals, had 22 after January 1st.
Draisaitl was outstanding offensively, despite not having the best possession numbers as his CF%, FF%, SF% were all lower last season than in the previous two.
I looked at his overall numbers at 5×5 through the past three seasons.
He played 200 more minutes at 5×5 last year than in either of the previous two. He scored 15 more goals on only nine more shots than in 2018. He made his shots count.
Here are his PP numbers over the past three seasons.
He had more PP time, and a big increase in goals, although his PP point totals weren’t much different than in 2017. He was more of a shooter than a disher on the PP last season.
Draisaitl was 21st in PP TOI among NHL forwards. McDavid was 26th, and they were 30th and 22nd overall in PP TOI/game, but that is mainly due to the Oilers being 25th in PP opportunities and 28th overall in PP TOI as a team. If the Oilers can draw more penalties, we will likely see McDavid and Draisaitl get more PP time.
I could see both Draisaitl and McDavid’s overall TOI drop a bit this season, but not significantly. If they dropped a minute each to 21:35 and 21:50 respectively they would have finished ninth and eighth in TOI among forwards last season. I don’t see Tippett lowering their minutes that much. They are simply too good not to play 21+ minutes/game.
OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION THIS SEASON…
The likelihood Draisaitl scores 50 goals this season is low. The only players to score 50 goals in consecutive seasons in the past 20 years include Pavel Bure (2000, 2001), Heatley (2006, 2007) and Ovechkin (2008-2010 and 2014-2016). In fact only 22 players in NHL history have scored 50 goals in consecutive seasons.
If he doesn’t score 50 no one should consider it a bad season. The only active NHL players with multiple 50-goal seasons are Ovechkin (8), Steven Stamkos and Ilya Kovalchuk (2).
Even scoring 40 goals in consecutive seasons is rare today.
In the past ten NHL seasons (82 game campaigns dating back to 2009), only four players have scored 40 goals in consecutive seasons.
Ovechkin did it in 2009, 2010, again in 2014-2016 and in 2018 and 2019.
Stamkos scored 40 in three seasons from 2010-2012.
McDavid scored 40+ in 2018 and 2019.
Kovalchuk reached 40 in 2009 and 2010.
The other players who have scored 40 goals two times since 2009 include: Eric Staal (2009, 2018), Corey Perry (2011, 2014), Rick Nash (2009, 2015), Malkin (2012, 2018), Nikita Kucherov (2017, 2019), Patrik Kane (2016, 2019), Marian Gaborik (2010, 2012) and Crosby (2010, 2017).
Scoring 40 goals multiple times in today’s NHL is very rare. If Draisaitl does it in back-to-back seasons you should be impressed.
Since 2009 we have seen a total of 12 occasions where a player scores 50 goals.
And 58 times a player has scored 40 goals.
And 121 times a players has scored 35 goals.
There is only a five goal difference between 35 and 40, but burying that fifth extra goal is extremely difficult.
Last season two players scored 50 goals, 13 had 40+ and 24 potted 35+. Goal scoring was up slightly last season averaging 6.02 goals/game compared to 5.94/game in 2018 and a big increase from 5.54 goals/game in 2017.
If that trend continues next season, Draisaitl’s chances of reaching 40 goals goes up slightly.
WILL HE SCORE 40?
Let’s start with the obvious. His SH% will almost surely go down. His 21.6% was the second highest since 1999 among players who scored 40+ goals. Only William Karlsson’s 23.4% in 2018 was higher.
His shot total among 40-goal scorers since 1999 was 18th lowest at 231. Karlsson potted 43 goals on 184 shots while Brayden Point had 41 goals on 191 shots last year. They are the only two players to score 40 goals on fewer than 200 shots since 1999.
Let’s say Draisaitl has 231 shots again this season. If he scores 40 goals his SH% would be 17.3.
I suspect he will shoot a bit more this season, so let’s say he fires 250 shots. If he buries 40 goals then he’d have a 16.0 SH%.
Since the 1999 season we have had 132 occasions of a player scoring 40+ goals.
Sixty-three times a player had a SH% of 16 or higher.
Sixty-nine times a player had a SH% 15.9% of lower.
And in the 38 times a player fired fewer than 259 shots their SH% was 16.1% or better and in fact only nine of the 38 times was a player below 17%.
I suspect Draisaitl’s SH will drop, but it could dip to 16% or 17% and he’d still score 40 goals if his shot totals are between 231-250.
Scoring 100 points is almost as difficult as potting 50 goals. In the past ten NHL seasons (82 games) only four players have scored 100 points in consecutive seasons.
McDavid has 100 points in each of the past three seasons, and became only the 18th player in NHL history to have three consecutive 100+ point seasons.
Crosby (2009, 2010), Ovechkin (2009, 2010) and Nikita Kucherov (2018, 2019) are the others. Ovechkin also had 100 points in 2008 and he was the 17th player to produce 100 points three seasons in a row.
Kane and Malkin have two 100 point seasons since 2009, but not consecutively, while Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Brad Marchand, Claude Giroux and Nicklas Backstrom have done it once. Draisaitl is one of only 13 players to surpass the 100-point mark and his 105 point season was the 12th highest of the 21 times a player has reached the century mark.
Doing it again will be difficult.
Even scoring 90 points is very difficult, as only 30 players have reached it a total of 48 times since 2009.
Draisaitl has been one of the NHL’s best point producers the past three seasons, picking up 252 points, which is seventh most in the NHL behind McDavid (324), Kucherov (313), Crosby (278), Kane (275), Marchand (270) and Blake Wheeler (256).
He is very skilled, but also durable, missing only four games the past three seasons. He is a lock to remain on the first unit powerplay, and the Oilers PP should be in the top ten, so I feel 25-30 powerplay points is a safe projection.
Draisaitl had 14 points at 4×4 or 3×3 last season and McDavid had 18. They are the most dangerous duo in the NHL at 3×3 and for sure they will play together in OT. I think 10-14 4×4/3×3 points is attainable again.
Draisaitl had three short-handed points last year, which tied him for 23rd most in the NHL. In a perfect world I wouldn’t have Draisaitl or McDavid on the PK very much. But unless some other centres can be close to 50% on faceoffs, Draisaitl might get more PK than head coach Dave Tippett would like. I’ll say he scores two SH points this year.
That leaves 5×5 scoring.
He was sixth in the NHL with 59 points trailing Kucherov (68), Patrick Kane (65), McDavid (63), Crosby and John Tavares (60).
His production will be impacted by how much he plays with McDavid. Tippett said at his introductory press conference he plans to start the season with them together. Does the James Neal acquisition change that? We’ll see.
Here are Draisaitl’s 5×5 numbers the past three seasons including production with McDavid.
In 2017 he played 1,177 5×5 minutes and produced 40 points. He played 676 minutes with McDavid and scored 25 points with him on the ice. Thus 62.5% of his points came with McDavid and he played 57% of the time with him.
In 2018 he played 1,126 at 5×5 and produced 43 points. He skated 498 minutes with McDavid and produced 22 points together. So 51% of his points came with McDavid and he played 44% of his TOI beside him.
This past season he logged 1,377 minutes at 5×5 and produced 59 points. He skated 805 minutes with McDavid and scored 45 points together. That means 76% of his points came with McDavid and he played 58% of his TOI together. It is interesting to note McDavid scored 74.6% of his points with Draisaitl and played 59% of his TOI with him.
They both produced more together than apart.
They are going to start the season together, and considering Ryan Nugent-Hopkins didn’t have nearly as much success on McDavid’s wing as he did playing centre, I don’t see Tippett experimenting with RNH on the wing.
Who starts with them seems open for discussion, but I expect Tippett to run with his dynamic duo quite a bit this season, unless there is a serious injury to one of them or Nugent-Hopkins.
And because of that, I see Draisaitl scoring 55-58 points at 5×5.
Total it up and I have him producing between 94-102 points.
What say you?
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