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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Historic Day for Draisaitl

Leon Draisaitl had already joined an elite group earlier this year when he won the Art Ross Trophy. He became the 32nd player to win the award in the 72 seasons the NHL has awarded the trophy to the leading scorer.

Today, he added to his trophy case, winning the Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association) and the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player voted by NHL players).

He is the 29th player to win the Ted Lindsay since it was first handed out in 1971, and he’s the 60th player to win the Hart in the 86 seasons it has been awarded.

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He is the first German-born player to win any of these three major awards.

He is indeed the 13th player to win the NHL’s version of the Triple Crown.

Draisaitl led the NHL in many categories this season:
110 points
67 assists
44 powerplay points
10 game winning goals (tied with David Pastrnak)
Points per game at 1.55.
TOI/game among forwards at 22:37

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He was the best offensive player in the NHL, and his opponents felt he was the most outstanding.

This is a monumental day for hockey in Germany. Draisaitl was already one of the NHL’s elite, but getting this recognition will illuminate his star even more. Kids in Germany will want to try hockey, just like more young Canadians have started playing soccer and basketball due to the success of Christine Sinclair, Alphonso Davies, Jamal Murray, the Toronto Raptors and more.

GOOD NEWS FOR OILERS FANS…

Dec 6, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) and forward Leon Draisaitl (29) discuss a play during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers fans should be excited as well.

Draisaitl and teammate Connor McDavid are the fourth set of teammates to be on the same team when both won the Hart, Ted Lindsay and the Art Ross. They join Bobby Orr/Phil Esposito, Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr and Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin. All those other duos won Stanley Cups either before, after or during those award winning seasons.

It is clear Edmonton has two elite players, and it is up to Ken Holland, his management team and the scouts to surround them with better players. I’m not in the camp who believes the Oilers will win when Draisaitl and McDavid suddenly become more responsible defensively. Sure, that can help, but they can become the most competitive and dedicated two-way players on the planet, and they still won’t win without good depth around them. The NHL isn’t the NBA, where your best players decide most games. Hockey is more of a team sport. And while you need elite players at the top to compete, you are unlikely to win without quality depth at forward, on defence and in goal.

Look at Tampa Bay. They have Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point up front — all elite scorers, but they also the best D-man in the league in Victor Hedman and one of the best goalies in Andrei Vasilevskiy. And they haven’t won yet.

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Edmonton is slowly building a better support group and if they continue down that path the Oilers will compete because they have elite players in Draisaitl and McDavid.

Those critical of Draisaitl winning will point to his analytics.

Leon Draisaitl GP TOI SF SA SF-SA GF GA GF-GA SCF SCA SCF-SCA HDGF HDGA HDGF-GA OI SH% OI SV% PDO
December 14 215 93 145 -52 3 23 -20 79 129 -50 2 16 -14 3.23 84.14 0.874
Rest of Season 57 948 530 521 9 66 39 27 482 458 24 34 21 13 12.45 92.51 1.041
Full Season 71 1163 623 666 -43 69 62 7 561 587 -26 36 37 -1 11.08 90.69 1.018

The Oilers, as a team, allow too many goals at 5×5. You can’t debate that. Draisaitl can improve his defensive play, but with below average goaltending your analytics can look pretty bad, even without a forward making any wrong defensive decisions. It is interesting to see how a horrendous month of December (14 games) made his numbers look much worse than the other 85% of the season. He was +27 in GF-GA in the other 57 games. A .841Sv% in December had a strong impact on him being a gaudy -20 at 5×5.

While his December skewed his 5×5 numbers, his PP numbers were outstanding and that is a big part of the game. You can’t ignore how dominant Draisaitl was on the powerplay (league-high 44 points). It is an important aspect of the game, and is often major component in outcomes of games.

There will always be the other side of this debate and why Nathan MacKinnon should have won, which makes sports so great, but I don’t think we can debate how big of a day this is for hockey in Germany and for Draisaitl.

Congratulations Leon, on an historic day.

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