It’s a given for there to be so much hype surrounding Edmonton Oilers’ forward Connor McDavid and how dangerous he is. In that hype many have forgotten just how dangerous and lethal Leon Draisaitl is. Ask the 21-year-old yourself, and he’ll probably tell you he’s perfectly fine flying under the radar.
He won’t be able to fly under it much longer — in fact, he’s one of the best players in the league and the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been his coming out party. It’s kind of insulting to consider Draisaitl McDavid’s sidekick, and if the Ducks are going to win this series, their head coach Randy Carlyle is going to have to come up with a solution to stopping the young German forward.
There were a lot of questions in the first round surrounding Draisaitl’s play in the first half of the San Jose series. It turns out that he caught the flu bug to begin the playoffs, as did a few other Oilers. The ‘Deutschland Dangler’ bounced back in the final games of the series and scored a goal and three points in the final two to clinch the series. He’s proving he’s more than a sidekick — he’s the real deal.
The Duck Hunter
In Game 1 against the Ducks, while Carlyle put an emphasis on having Ryan Kesler shadow McDavid, Draisaitl went ahead and scored a goal and had three assists. Now it’s created a conundrum as Carlyle will need to find a shutdown player for Draisaitl. His two best options might be Antoine Vermette and Ryan Getzlaf, both of whom are anchoring the Ducks first and fourth lines.
The realistic likelihood is that more should be expected defensively from Kesler’s linemates, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg if that’s the continued matchup Carlyle wants to use against the Oilers top line. We also saw Getzlaf getting minutes against the Oilers top line, and Carlyle attributed that to the faceoff matchups during his post-game press conference.
LEON DRAISAITL .VS. DUCKS (CAREER STATS)
* Includes Playoff Games
Regardless of who it is, Draisaitl has been downright deadly against the Ducks over his career. In six games against the Ducks this season, the Edmonton forward has seven goals and 12 points. Over his career he’s compiled nine goals and 17 points in 13 games. If you’re looking for a comparison, McDavid has two goals and nine points in eight games against the Ducks over his career. That’s how good Draisaitl’s been.
CONNOR MCDAVID .VS. DUCKS (CAREER STATS)
* Includes Playoff Games
Quack, Quack, Quack Mr. Ducksworth
Draisaitl continues to grow, and at the mercy of the Ducks, he became just the second player in franchise history to score four points in a playoff game before their 22nd birthday. Wayne Gretzky is the only other player in Oilers history to accomplish that feat. That’s some pretty elite company, considering Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri were all prolific scorers during their time with the franchise and never accomplished such a feat.
Nonetheless, looking back at his dominance, Draisaitl scored in all five regular season games against Anaheim this season, two of which were game-winning goals. His shooting percentage (S%) is also a ridiculous 39.1% against the Ducks in 13 career games.
When the Oilers won the draft lottery in 2015, fans celebrated getting a franchise altering player like McDavid, a rare generational star. Looking back though, Edmonton fans should rejoice that the Buffalo Sabres passed on Draisaitl during the 2014 NHL Draft, and took Sam Reinhart second overall instead. With 137 points in 191 games, Draisaitl is the highest scoring player from his draft year. Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak (25th overall) is second with 123 points in 172 games, while Reinhart is fifth (90 points in 167 games).
Of the seven goals Draisaitl has scored against the Ducks this season, six of them have been against John Gibson. The Oilers forward has Gibson’s number right now, and Gibson’s save percentage (SV%) on shots from Draisaitl is a paltry 0.571%. Meanwhile Draisaitl’s shooting percentage (S%) on Gibson is a staggering 42.9%.
It’s an impressive streak of dominance, and for Edmonton, you’ve got to hope Draisaitl’s streak can be extended and help them win this series.