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Photo Credit: twitter.com/edmontonoilers

Edmonton Oilers player review and 2021-22 preview: Leon Draisaitl

Welcome to the 2020-21 season review and 2021-22 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 season and previewing the 2021-22 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.

Having two of the NHL’s best players on one team truly is a treat.

So much so that while everyone was so focused on the incredible season Connor McDavid was having, people almost forgot about Leon Draisaitl’s incredibly productive 2020-21 campaign. You can even say people forgot about Drai.

In 56 games this year, Draisaitl didn’t disappoint. He scored 31 goals and 84 points putting him fourth and second in each category, respectively. His point total trailed only McDavid’s 105 points, and was a full 15 points above the third-place player in Brad Marchand, who scored 69 points.

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His offensive production was tremendous again this year, much like his Hart and Art Ross winning 2019-20 campaign. At 5×5, he scored 2.64 points per hour, a dip from 2019-20’s 2.89, but an increase from 2018-19’s 2.57.

Interestingly enough, his 5×5 goal production this year dipped while his assists took a slight uptick, largely due to more second assists this year. His goals per hour fell from 1.13 to .86, while his total assists per hour rose from 1.75 to 1.78. With him on the ice this year, the Oilers controlled 50.58 percent of the shot attempts, 62.5 percent of the goals and 50.77 percent of the expected goals.

The most noticeable improvements came in the defensive zone for Draisaitl this year. It was something he said early this year he prided himself on, and something he wanted to improve on. His 5×5 goals against per hour fell from 3.2 in 2019-20, to 2.17 this past season and his shot attempts against per hour fell from 60.17 to 56.08 this year.

And one of the most noticeable changes came in the faceoff circle. His win percentage jumped up to 55.7 percent — a far cry from the 50.9 he had averaged in his first six seasons.

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For young NHL’ers, the offence is typically the game that comes to them easiest especially for high-end offensive talents like Draisatl. The defensive game, meanwhile, can sometimes take a while to catch up. This year it did and it’s an area he will continue to need to improve on.

It’s the one area he needs to continue to grow, and I don’t doubt that it will happen.

DRAISAITL’S NHL CAREER SO FAR

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/- PGP G A Pts PIM
2014-15 Edmonton Oilers NHL 37 2 7 9 4 -17
2014-15 Kelowna Rockets WHL 32 19 34 53 25 14 19 10 18 28 12
2015-16 Bakersfield Condors AHL 6 1 1 2 4 -5
2015-16 Edmonton Oilers NHL 72 19 32 51 20 -2
2016-17 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 29 48 77 20 7 13 6 10 16 19
2017-18 Edmonton Oilers NHL 78 25 45 70 30 -7
2018-19 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 50 55 105 52 2
2019-20 Edmonton Oilers NHL 71 43 67 110 18 -7 4 3 3 6 0
2020-21 Edmonton Oilers NHL 56 31 53 84 22 29 4 2 3 5 2
NHL Totals 478 199 307 506 166 21 11 16 27 21

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]