Honestly, this is getting ridiculous. I mean, what else does Leon Draisaitl have to do to get noticed? While his captain and often-time line-mate Connor McDavid goes about his business having one of the best seasons in NHL history, Draisaitl is quietly putting up one of the better seasons in NHL memory too. That said, do you think anyone cares?
On pace for 119 points in an 82-game season, Leon sits at 71 points in 49 games played. It’s a remarkable feat, second only to McDavid’s 87 points and it’s got to be just eating away and Draisaitl because no one seems to acknowledge what he’s doing. Few people have talked about his obnoxiously-high ice-time. So too, when he broke the record for German-born players, he got a little love on the Oilers website and his picture taken with Marco Sturm, but not much else. Instead, McDavid can say or do no wrong, while Draisaitl gets crapped on when he spews a little fire at a media member during one of the few Oilers losing streaks this season.
Perhaps it’s time Draisaitl says, ‘To heck with these guys, I’m out of here.’
He’s So Underappreciated…
Not one season ago, everyone was talking about Draisaitl. He’d won the Hart Trophy with a 110-point season and he’d clearly put himself in the conversation as one of the NHL’s top-five talents. Yet, just a few short months later, as McDavid weaves his magic and flies in and out of blue line pairings only to score highlight reel goal after highlight-reel goal, Leon puts together one of his finest campaigns as an NHLer. He’s on pace to out-produce last season’s clip, but has anyone even brought that up?
He’s playing big minutes on the penalty kill while McDavid milks the last couple seconds, coming out off the bench to grab juicy goals after Leon is gassed. Draisaitl is being taken off McDavid’s line to get other guys going and he’s being asked to shoot from below the goal line just to get a couple extra shots on net. Honestly, he probably only practices his 200-foot shot at the end of a pre-game warm up because he knows if he doesn’t shoot from there, he might not get other opportunities.
Frankly, it’s unfair and Draisaitl just shouldn’t stand for it any longer.
A Team-Friendly Contract
Even more upsetting? Draisaitl is doing all of this on what is now one of the most valued contracts in the NHL. Sure, he’s doing alright banking $8.5 million per season. And no, he’s not going to be begging for loose change anytime soon. But, to have two 100-plus point seasons in the last two years and be on pace to do even better than that in an 82-game season this year is tremendous value for the Oilers.
In a flat cap world, Holland should be sending Draisaitl a gift basket this Christmas with a card that reads, ‘Thank you for being so affordable and still being so damn good. It makes my job a whole lot easier. P.S. Don’t tell your buddy I sent this card to you… he is making $12.5 million per season and he’s totally handcuffing me this summer.’
Honestly, Draisaitl should consider holding out this offseason. Edmonton needs to pull James Neal aside and say, ‘Look, we like you and all, but how about throwing a little love at No. 29. We saw him selling Girl Guide cookies door to door and we’re pretty sure he knows he’s not supposed to be going out in public during a pandemic.’ Neal shouldn’t mind, he’s making about $1.43 million per goal this season.
It’s Not Like These Two Make a Good Pair
I mean, c’mon, it’s not like McDavid and Draisaitl work well together or anything. You can tell it’s just painful for both of them when they have to be on the ice together. Their styles don’t mesh at all, one guy being fast like the wind and another being strong on the puck. One guy who can stick handle in a phone booth while the other makes insanely difficult passes look like child’s play. One guy who turn some nothing into a four-point night and one guy who can play 28 minutes in the second contest of a back-to-back.
In the final moments of a game, you can tell from head coach Dave Tippett’s demeanor too, he just loathes putting those guys out there. You can read it on his face as if to say, ‘Well, if I have to.’
Perhaps the worst part of all?… It’s clear as day that McDavid and Draisailt aren’t happy for each other. Their mutual success has to just be eating at them. That’s how great players operate… it’s either me, or him. There’s no “we” in McDavid or Draisaitl, but there are like three ‘I’s. Hockey is about serving one’s own self-interest; it only matters how well “I” do. Really, what is this?.. Golf?
And, winning? Don’t even get me started on how painful that looks…
(For those that didn’t get it, this is a little tongue-in-cheek satire…I hope you enjoyed it.)
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”