NHL Notebook: Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl may already be a Hall of Famer after reaching 700 game milestone and Flyers head coach John Tortorella suspended two games, fined after refusing to leave bench

Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
4 months ago
A handful of players on the Edmonton Oilers roster had a milestone achievement this week, but as forward Leon Draisaitl suited up for his 700th NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, he may already be qualified to become a Hall of Famer.
The forward has officially passed the unofficial games played threshold for Hockey Hall of Fame induction for modern-day NHL players, according to Paul Pidutti, who dove into the case for Daily Faceoff. The unofficial threshold of 700 games comes from the examples of NHL forwards that have been inducted in the last two decades. 
Eric Lindros was elected after just 760 games played, Peter Forsberg after 708, Pavel Bure after 702, and Cam Neely after 726, Pidutti noted, so, whether or not 700 games is the unofficial definition of a Hall of Fame career, it’s been evident for previous players. 
There are a few things to consider: he’s never made a Stanley Cup Final and hasn’t scored 400 goals, so what makes Draisaitl fit to become a Hall of Famer?
At 28 years old, Draisaitl has become one of the faces of the Oilers hockey franchise and has undoubtedly had a fantastic first decade of his career. He has surpassed the 100-point mark four times and is projected to do it again this season, but there’s plenty more to dive into.
He’s also accomplished many feats throughout his first 10 years in the league, including being top in goals five times, leading the league in points in the 2019-20 season, and having the third-highest playoff points per game rate of all-time.
Pidutti took each NHL player who debuted in 1967 and adjusted their career point production through the age of 28 to the scoring climate they played in. The results showed that Draisaitl’s era-adjusted pace of 99 points per 82 games is 10th on an incredible list of players that includes Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Sidney Crosby, to name a few. He sits ahead of Mike Bossy and Guy Lafleur with 98. 
Some may wonder where Draisaitl’s superstar counterpart, Connor McDavid, sits on that list well. In that case, he’s still 27 and has yet to play through his age-28 campaign. 
However, it’s important to note that Draisaitl, like everyone, has his flaws. Pidutti collected data across five years that showed the forward’s even-strength defence was in the bottom 10 percent of the NHL. Although he’s shown a tremendous performance offensively, his defensive production has gone in the opposite direction.
Overall, Draisaitl is an elite player and a qualified candidate for future Hockey Hall of Fame considerations. To have 700 games under your belt is one thing, but the market is well aware there’s still plenty more for him to accomplish, and what comes next is just as exciting. 


Torts suspended

Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella has been suspended two games and fined $50,000 after he refused to leave the bench when ejected by officials during a Saturday game against the Lightning.
Down 4-0 halfway through the first period when the incident occurred, it’s not known what exactly led to his ejection, but his frustration appeared to grow when Flyers winger Garnet Hathaway was issued a 10-minute misconduct. 
In a statement, the league said Torotrella’s punishment was due to “unprofessional conduct directed at the officials by refusing to leave the bench area after being assessed a game misconduct.” He will miss games on March 12th against the Sharks, and March 14th against the Leafs. 
After being ejected by referee Wes McCauley, Tortorella stayed on the bench, repeatedly telling the officials he wasn’t leaving as he pointed to the bench beneath him. He would leave the game moments later, replaced by associate coach Brad Shaw. 
After the game, Shaw said Tortorella was trying to make a point.
“Well, I think he was just trying to make a point that we felt like we might not been getting our fair shake,” Shaw said. “It’s an emotional game at times, and we all get elevated blood pressure.”
Tortorella is known as one of the most colourful coaches in the NHL, so it’s no surprise he didn’t go out easy. To make things even more interesting, the Lightning were honouring their 2004 Stanley Cup-winning team with previous Lighting players in attendance; ironically, Tortorella was their coach for their victorious season.
On Sunday, Flyers CEO Dan Hilferty said he would pay any fine the NHL tries to send Tortorella after the events on Saturday night.
“I’m really proud of Torts for standing up for his/our team,” Hilferty told NBC Sports’ Al Morganti. “This New Era of Orange is about having each other’s backs. Last night, Torts had our collective backs. I respect any action the league might feel is neeed (sic) to take but if it includes a fine, I am paying it.”

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