Last week, Edmonton Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid reached the milestone of 500 points in the NHL. It will not be long before his teammate Leon Draisaitl will get to the milestone as well.
The German, who is number two in scoring in the NHL this season with only No. 97 ahead of him, has scored 33 points in 21 games and needs another 45 points in the remaining 35 games to succeed with the feat this season. Not an impossible task for the Oilers’ No. 29, who in 2020-21 once again has shown how important he is to the Oilers. The forward has many years left in his career, but it is not too early to say that the German is one of the best ever to have played in an Oilers jersey. This despite the fact that he grew up far from Canada in a country where the idea of playing in the NHL was just a distant dream.
Draisaitl One of 9 Oilers to Score 100 Points in One Season
In Germany, soccer is number one. This is perhaps not so strange given Germany’s success in that sport. Bayern Munich is the reigning Champions League champion, and the national team – Die Mannschaft as the team is called in the home country – has won four World Cup titles (only Brazil has more). The most recent in 2014. Hockey is not at the same level. Fully understandable given the meager successes German hockey has had. Even though the World Championship in hockey is played every year, Germany has never won. Their biggest success in the sport is the silver medal from the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, a tournament without NHL players present.
But perhaps that is about to change now, thanks to a 25-year-old player born and raised in the German city of Cologne. When Draisaitl won both the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer and the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the league after the 2019-20 season, it was not only noticed in North America. In his home country, the Oilers’ player received the award Germany’s Sportsman of the Year thanks to his NHL success. A clear sign that his countrymen have also begun to understand the greatness of what the German center has achieved in the world’s best hockey league.
Draisaitl is now playing his seventh season in the NHL and is soon about to accomplish what McDavid did last week. There are many indications that the German center will reach 500 points already this season. In 443 games in the NHL, he has scored 455 points, which means that the German has an average of over one point per game. An average that has increased with his performances the last two seasons.
In 2018-19, the Oilers No. 29 scored 105 points in 82 games, something he topped the following season with 110 points in just 71 games. Thus, he is one of nine Oilers’ players who have succeeded in scoring 100 points in one season, and he is one of only seven Edmonton players who have accomplished the feat twice. The others are Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky, and McDavid. Not bad for a 25-year-old born and raised far from Canada and Edmonton.
Draisaitl Dreamed Early on of Playing in the NHL
For a guy who grew up thousands of miles from North America and where the NHL dream felt almost unattainable, the young German has really succeeded. Because even though Draisaitl talked early on about making it all the way to the NHL, few others during the German forward’s childhood thought that the dream of playing in the world’s best hockey league would come true.
”My mom once told me that every time I was playing with my friends or anyone, I was the only guy that said,‘ I want to be in the NHL. ‘ A lot of times, guys just wouldn’t believe it or kind of laugh about it because back home, the NHL is just so far away from where we were,” said Draisaitl in an interview during his first season with the Oilers.
But even if Draisaitl’s life early on revolved around hockey, it was not love at first sight. When his dad Peter, a former professional hockey player in Germany, took his son to a hockey rink for the first time, the future Oilers’ player began to cry and wanted to go home. However, the young German would soon change his attitude to the sport. Although the future Oilers’ star, like so many other young people, played soccer and a variety of other sports, he came to the conclusion that hockey was the sport he wanted to pursue. He could learn new things from his father, and the young hockey player often used to ask his dad if he was doing well on the ice. He did.
In fact, Draisaitl was so good that he left his home country at age 16 to play hockey in Canada and get closer to the NHL dream. Also, he got the opportunity to watch real NHL games. Before that, the young hockey player had to settle for YouTube clips of his idol Pavel Datsyuk and other NHL players. The young German continued to succeed on the other side of the Atlantic too. After two successful seasons with Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League, he was selected as No. 3 by Edmonton in the 2014 NHL Draft. The rest is history.
Draisaitl Is Already One of the Best Oilers Players of All Time
At the age of 25, Draisaitl is already one of Oiler’s greatest players ever, and if it were not for a certain player with 97 on his back, he would be the biggest star in the current team. Now the German center has to settle for number two, despite being the NHL’s leading scorer in 2019-20. Draisaitl has refuted those who said that his point production had to do with him playing alongside McDavid. The German has now shown that he runs his own line without the help of his teammate.
This season Draisaitl has already accounted for four game-winning goals and ten multi-points games. In the 8-5 win over the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 31, the German center became the fourth Oilers player ever to make six assists in a game. That is something that not even McDavid has accomplished.
That Draisaitl will succeed in scoring 100 points or more during the shortened 2020-21 season is not very likely but not entirely impossible. However, it seems more likely that the German will reach the milestone of 500 NHL points this season. He will, in any case, continue to be one of the NHL’s leading scorers and be a vital force in the Oilers’ hunt for a playoff spot. Not bad for a guy from a soccer-crazy country in the middle of Europe thousands of miles from Canada.
Journalist and NHL fanatic. I’m writing about the Edmonton Oilers. Twitter @jonerik77