Edmonton Oilers player review and 2023-24 preview: Leon Draisaitl
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing2 months ago
Welcome to the 2022-23 season review and 2023-24 season preview player-by-player! In this and other articles, we’ll be, well, reviewing the 2022-23 season of Edmonton Oilers players and previewing their 2023-24 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.
Welcome back, Leon Draisaitl.
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I could spend hours singing the praise of Leon Draisaitl. In terms of player importance to the Oilers, he’s second to only Connor McDavid and his work over the last number of years just shows that.
A dominant force in terms of his size and ability to use his body, it’s translated to his offensive game, too. Draisaitl was always a big player and even dating back to his time in juniors, the expectation was he would be a strong power forward in the NHL. He’s done that and then some with his offensive game hitting highs few ever expected.
Last season was no different with another 50+ goal campaign with 128 points, but what impressed me most was Draisaitl’s defensive zone play. This is an area of his game I’ve long felt was underrated, and I think this past season we saw a noticeable step forward. It may not have shown itself in the Oilers’ goal share number with him on the ice, but you can see his individual contributions having improved to a league-average rate.
And to be honest, that’s totally acceptable because his strength will forever be in his ability to drive play into the offensive zone where he’s established himself as one of the most threatening players there.
He can score from anywhere in any way, and it leaves opposing defences scrambling. Forehand, backhand, in front of the net or 30 feet away, if there’s an opening, Draisaitl can find it. His accuracy is something that’s forced other teams to key in on him more and more, thus opening the door for others to see successes, too. Look at Connor McDavid scoring over 60 goals this year as a perfect example. While a lot of it comes with McDavid himself just shooting the puck more, it also comes in thanks to Draisaitl’s ability to soak up coverage.
With a big frame like his, it forces opposing teams to try often and double him up, and that’s just not something that’s going to stop him. Draisiatl’s ability to shield the puck, protect it in the offensive zone, and create chances make him one of the best players in the league.
This upcoming season I’m expecting much of the same. Look for Draisaitl to score 50+ goals mark and notch 120+ points over the course of the season once again.
DRAISAITL’S CAREER SO FAR
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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