Leon Draisaitl THW Close-Up:
Date of birth: 1995-October 27
Hometown: Cologne, Germany
Ht:6′ 1″ Wt: 209 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2014 1st year eligible
German Center Ready to Make Big Splash
European players who come over to play in the CHL often are hit and miss. Can they adapt to a more physical game, one that’s played on smaller ice? When the Prince Albert Raiders brought over Leon Draisaitl from Cologne, Germany in 2012 it didn’t take long to find out that they had a hit. The then 17-year-old was able to quickly acclimate to the play in the Western Hockey League — potting 21 goals and 37 assists in his rookie season. Coming into this campaign there where high expectations for the Raiders, and their star import. While Prince Albert struggled with inconsistency during the season, Draisaitl did not. Draisaitl took the WHL by storm and scored 38 goals, added 67 assists for an impressive 105 point season.
That point total was good enough to tie fellow top prospect Sam Reinhart for the fourth spot in the WHL scoring race. It also vaulted the player affectionately known as ‘The Deutschland Dangler’ up NHL Draft boards. At one point in the season he was ranked as the top WHL prospect.
Draisaitl impresses scouts because of his skill set and size. Weighing in over 200 pounds Draisaitl is a rare breed as a big, play-making center –something that does not come along in every draft. Draisaitl can handle the puck, is strong enough to carry it through traffic and makes smart decisions with it. In a world where puck possession is a premium the big German should go early in June’s NHL Draft. Like most prospects, Draisaitl has some room for improvement. As big as he is, he is not the fleetest of foot and could shore up his play deep in his own end. Those things can be worked on and will not hurt him come draft day.
Where He’ll Land in June:
Most draft sites have Draisaitl slotted in the top ten, ranging from third to seventh. This is the area that he most likely will be selected. There are some clubs in the top ten, like the Vancouver Canucks, who have to be drooling over landing a big center of Draisaitl’s caliber. He may not last to the sixth spot that Vancouver holds at the moment. It’s hard to imagine that he would slip past Calgary at four, if Edmonton passes with the third pick. Tune into the draft early if you want to see Draisaitl get selected, he won’t last long.
“ Leon Draisaitl is a big bodied center that willingly and consistently disrupts the tempo of a hockey game with his uncanny patience and his intelligent possessive style. He loves to fly through the middle of the ice, often dazzling with his Datsyuk-like puck handling skills. Leon’s vision and ability to lay claim to space in the dirty areas of the ice make him an elite offensive threat. He plays a pass first style but also has a goal scorers shot with the smarts to look off a pass or quickly change his shooting angle to get it past the goalie. Draisaitl has the hockey sense and skill to be a premier NHL play maker, but he will need to round out his skating while striving to be more of a difference-maker in the defensive zone to reach his highest potential.” – Zenon Herasymiuk – Future Considerations
- Draisaitl could be highest drafted German player
- Draisaitl following in Modano’s footsteps
- The Hockey News Profile
Risk = 1/5 Reward = 4/5
Play maker, top-line center who will make those around him better.
- Puck handling
- Play making
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Improvement on defense
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
Jaromir Jagr, Anze Kopitar
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect:Chris Ralph
Andrew writes about the WHL and NHL Draft Prospects. He also covers the Seattle Thunderbirds for 710 ESPN Seattle and spent two years with Sportsnet. Follow him on Twitter @andyeide.