Leon Draisaitl: The Under Appreciated Superstar
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor8 months ago
Last night Leon Draisaitl became the 27th player in NHL history to score 100 points in a season four times, and he’s only 27 years young. His elite combination of goal scoring and passing has him on the verge of joining even more exclusive clubs and has him on a trajectory to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Draisaitl’s 100th point put him on the list among some of the greatest players to ever play the game.
If the 2021 season hadn’t been shortened due to COVID, Draisaitl would likely have five 100-point seasons as he scored 84 points in 56 games that year.
Draisaitl needs six goals in his final 14 games to reach 50 for the third time in his career. He’d become the 21st player in NHL with three 50-goal seasons. Alex Ovechkin is the only other player who has three or more 50-goal seasons since 2000.
When Draisaitl reaches 50 goals he’ll be one of 14 players to have three seasons with 50 goals and 100 points.
He’ll also become the 12th player to have three seasons with 50 goals and 50 assists.
Draisaitl is a unique blend of scoring and passing.
He has the most goals in the NHL over the past five seasons with 223, ahead of Auston Matthews (216), Alex Ovechkin (209), Connor McDavid (208), and David Pastrnak (192). Yet, he is rarely considered the top goal scorer in the game.
He is second in points the past five seasons with 509, trailing only McDavid (570), but Draisaitl is closer to McDavid than he is to the third leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon, who has 426 points. Draisaitl’s dominance gets overlooked because of McDavid. Detractors claim his point totals are inflated due to McDavid. If so, how come all the other players who play alongside McDavid aren’t remotely close to Draisaitl’s production?
For my money, Draisaitl is the best passer in the NHL, because of how accurate he is on his backhand. He’s also an equally accurate shooter.
Over the past five seasons, he has the best SH% at 20.3%. When he scored 50 goals for the first time in 2019, many detractors said it was a one-off because of his 21.7SH%. It wasn’t sustainable they wailed. They were wrong.
Draisaitl doesn’t waste shots, but he still shoots a lot. Over the last five seasons, he has the 14th most shots on goal with 1,099, but he’s first in goals with 223. Nathan MacKinnon has the most shots in goal with 1,472. He has 157 goals and a 10.7 SH%. Draisaitl has 66 more goals on 473 fewer shots and almost a 10% higher SH%. MacKinnon is one of the best players in the NHL, but he isn’t close to as efficient of a goal scorer as Draisaitl.
Draisaitl is seventh in faceoffs taken with 6,484, but he is 35th in neutral zone draws. The majority of his faceoffs are in the offensive or defensive zones. He’s 53%, which ranks 23rd among those who’ve taken at least 4,000 faceoffs over the past five seasons.
Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) controls the puck against Boston Bruins left wing Tomas Nosek (92) during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Draisaitl has a track record of showing up when it matters most. He has 18 goals and 59 points in 37 playoffs games. Draisaitl became a full-time NHLer in 2015-16 and in those eight seasons he is tied for 156th in playoff games played, however, he is 19th in points and is first in points/game at 1.59 ahead of McDavid (1.49), MacKinnon (1.32), Mikko Rantanen (1.22) and Nikita Kucherov (1.21).
Draisaitl plays the game very differently. He is faster than many think, but he likes to slow the game down and attacks in a much different way than McDavid or MacKinnon. He’s more like Jaromir Jagr and Peter Forsberg in that he likes to initiate contact in the offensive zone and likes to feel players on his hip, and then he will spin off of them or make a deft pass to an open linemate.
He isn’t McDavid, but he is without question the second-best offensive player in the game. The stats don’t lie, and while McDavid receives, deservedly so, significant recognition for his outstanding achievements, Draisaitl shouldn’t be overlooked.
Even McDavid trails Draisaitl in 50-goal seasons, 50-goal and 100 points seasons and 50 goals and 50 assists seasons.
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