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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Draisaitl and McDavid… Oh The Possibilities

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each set career-highs for points in a game with six and five respectively during the Oilers 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche last night. They are the first teammates in six seasons to combine for 11 points. Jamie Benn (1-5-6) and Tyler Seguin (4-1-5) did it on the same date, November 14th, in 2013 against the Calgary Flames.

The last two teammates to combine for more than 11 points were also members of the Oilers. On February 2nd, 2012 Sam Gagner scored eight points (4-4-8), while Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle each had four. So pick one of Hall or Eberle to go with Gagner.

The NHL record for most points in a game by two teammates occurred on February 22nd, 1981. Peter Stastny (4-4-8) and brother Anton (3-5-8) combined for 16 points in Quebec’s 11-7 victory over Washington.

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Darryl Sittler (6-4-10) and Lanny MacDonald (1-3-4) combined for 14 points on February 7th, 1976, during a Maple Leafs 11-4 win over Boston.

Wayne Gretzky (3-5-8) and Jari Kurri (5-1-6) also had 14 points on November 19th, 1983, against the New Jersey Devils.

McDavid and Draisaitl are without question the most dangerous duo in the NHL. From last season to today they sit first and second in points with 153 and 146 respectively.

In the 2019 calendar year, Draisaitl leads the league with 44-53-97 in 64 games, while McDavid is second with 34-61-95 in 61 games.

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Currently, Draisaitl leads the NHL with 15 goals and 41 points in 21 games, followed by McDavid’s 14 goals and 37 points.

Whatever timeline you want to use, these two are ripping up the NHL and I’m very curious what point totals they could finish with this season.

REALISTIC PROJECTIONS

Edmonton has 61 games remaining. If Draisaitl maintained his current scoring pace of 1.95 points/game he’d finish with 160 points.
If McDavid maintained his 1.76 point/game pace he’d have 144 points.

I can’t see Draisaitl scoring 160 points. Only two players in NHL history have done it. Wayne Gretzky did it nine times and Mario Lemieux four times. Only three other players have reached 150 points. Steve Yzerman had 155 in 1989, Phil Esposito had 152 in 1971 and Bernie Nicholls had 150 in 1989.

Even 130 points would be unreal. In the last 30 years only 13 times has a player scored 130+ points.

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1990: Gretzky had 40-102-142.
1991: Gretzky (41-122-163) and Brett Hull (86-45-131).
1992: Lemieux scored 44-87-131
1993: Lemieux (69-91-160), Pat Lafontaine (53-95-148), Adam Oates (45-97-142), Yzerman (58-79-137), Teemu Selanne (76-56-132) and Pierre Turgeon (58-174-132).
1994: Gretzky scored 38-92-130
1996: Lemieux had 69-92-161 and Jaromir Jagr scored 62-87-149.

If Draisaitl or McDavid reach 130 they will be the first to do it in 24 years. Nikita Kucherov had 128 last season, so 130 or more points is very realistic in my eyes.

In his last 61 games Draisaitl has scored 42-52-94. Add that to his 41 and he finishes the season with 57-78-135.

In McDavid’s previous 61 games he has produced 34-61-95. Combine that with the 37 points he has and he finishes with 48-84-132.

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To reach 130+ points they need to keep producing on the powerplay. Among the nine players who scored 130+ points since 1990, they all had at least 40 points on the powerplay.

Gretzky had 40, 59 and 61. Lemieux had 47, 55 and 79, while Yzerman and Selanne had (41), Hull (45), Jagr (51), Turgeon (54), Oates (62) and Lafontaine (63).

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So far McDavid has 17 on the man advantage and Draisaitl has 13. That projects to 66 for McDavid and 50 for Draisaitl.

The last time an NHL player had 50+ points on the powerplay was in 2007 when Sidney Crosby had 61 and Joe Thornton tallied 54. Seven players had 50 PP points in 2006: Ilya Kovalchuk (56), Alex Ovechkin and Jagr (52), Thornton and Tomas Kaberle (51), Nick Lidstrom and Marc Savard (50).

Last season Kucherov scored 48 points on the PP, the most in a decade, and teammate Steven Stamkos had 40, so McDavid and Draisaitl’s quest for 40+ points on the powerplay isn’t unrealistic. However, only Kucherov and Nicklas Backstrom (44 in 2014) have had more than 44 points since 2009.

You need a great powerplay to rack up the points and the Lightning tore up the league last year at 28.2%. They scored 74 powerplay goals.

Edmonton’s PP is humming at 31.7% with 20 goals on 63 chances. Last night McDavid scored all three of his goals on the powerplay, and as Oscar Klefbom noted post-game, when McDavid starts to shoot their PP becomes much tougher to defend. “When he shoots it opens up a lot more. It gives us another option and it makes it really tough on the penalty killers. When he shoots we are much more dangerous,” said Klefbom.

If the powerplay finishes above 26% I see no reason why McDavid and Draisaitl won’t reach 40+ powerplay points.

At the start of the season, I had McDavid with 124 points and Draisaitl with 110. After their hot start, I expect both will be higher and we could see two teammates surpass 130 points each for the first time since 1996.

How many points do you see them finishing with?

Random Question…

Good question Mike. The answer is yes.

It occurred often in the Original Six days. When the league expanded to 12 teams it occurred five times, but always involving Boston teammates Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr .

1969: Esposito won, Jean Beliveau was second and Orr was third.
1971: Orr won, Esposito was second and Bobby Hull third.
1972: Orr, Ken Dryden and Esposito.
1973: Bobby Clarke, Esposito and Orr.
1974: Esposito, Bernie Parent and Orr.

Since the NHL expanded to 21 teams in 1979/1980, it has only occurred three times.

1982: Wayne Gretzky finished first (unanimously with every first place vote), while teammates Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy finished second and third.

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1988: Mario Lemieux won and Oilers teammates Grant Fuhr and Gretzky finished second and third.

2001: Joe Sakic won, with Penguins teammates Lemieux and Jagr second and third.

The other closest was in 1996. Lemieux was first, followed by Mark Messier and Eric Lindros. Jaromir Jagr finished fourth despite scoring 62-87-149. Lemieux had 69-92-161 that year while Messier talled 47-52-99 and Lindros had 47-68-115. Jagr actually had more first place votes (5-2) than Lindros, but Lindros finished with more combined top-five votes. Jagr was the second best player in the league that year, no doubt in my mind. He had 95 EV points to Messier’s 58. Lemieux had 73 while missing 12 games.

Today, Draisaitl would get my first place vote for the Hart Trophy. He has been great, but there is a lot of hockey to be played. History shows us it will be difficult for both to finish in the top-three, but unless they really fall off I’d be shocked not to see both finish in the top-five of voting.

QUICK HITS…

It was interesting to see how many people were upset Mike Smith got the start yesterday, and when the Avs went up 1-0 many fans got more upset. However, I didn’t read or hear anyone questioning the decision post-game. You have to give Dave Tippett credit for how he has rotated his goalies. The team is winning and they are both playing well. If they lose a game, I think the low-hanging fruit criticism will be questioning if he had started the other goalie they would have won.

One of the forwards need to grab hold of the great opportunity of playing on the second line. I didn’t expect Zack Kassian to play this well on the top line when he was promoted there last January, but he’s been great and made the most of time on the first line. At some point, one of JOAKIM NYGARD, Josh Archibald, Alex Chiasson or whomever else gets a look needs to be productive alongside James Neal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They will never get a better chance. Maybe none have the ability to do it long-term, but many players have got hot for a short time and one of the depth forwards needs to emerge from the pack.

McDavid now has six career hat-tricks. That is fifth on the Oilers all-time list behind Mark Messier (13), Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson (20) and Gretzky (43). I see him passing Messier at some point, but reaching 20 will be very difficult.

Alex Ovechkin is the active leader with 23 hat tricks, followed by Eric Staal (14), Ilya Kovalchuk (13), Evgeni Malkin (12), Sidney Crosby (11) and John Tavares (10).

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