Leon Draisaitl recorded his second hat trick of 2021-22 on Thursday (April 14), scoring three times to lead his Edmonton Oilers to a crucial 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The German forward now has 54 goals this season, in what is shaping up to be an all-time great individual scoring campaign that transcends eras.
Edmonton still has seven games remaining on its regular-season schedule, giving Draisaitl opportunity to continue adding to his remarkable goal total. But what he’s already accomplished is awe-inspiring.
Playing on the same team as NHL points leader Connor McDavid and during a season when Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews has 58 goals with eight games to play, Draisaitl may not be fully appreciated. That’s not just around the league, but even in Oil Country. So as a public service helping hockey fans far and wide grasp the greatness that is “the German Gretzky,” here are four stats framed by historical context to demonstrate Draisaitl’s incredible season.
Draisaitl Equals Anderson’s Best
After scoring three times Thursday to push his total to 54 goals, Draisaitl is now in a four-way tie with Hall-of-Fame wingers Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson for the ninth most in a single season in franchise history. Anderson scored a career-high 54 twice, in 1983-84 and again in 1985-86; Kurri scored 54 in 1986-87.
When he scores his next goal, Draisaitl will move into a tie for the eighth most, equaling the 55 scored by Wayne Gretzky in 1981-82. Seventh on the list is Gretzky with 62 in 1986-87.
60 Goals in Draisaitl Sights
Kurri and Gretzky are the only two players to score 60 goals in a season for the Oilers. Kurri did it twice and Gretzky did it five times. Draisaitl needs six goals in his final seven games to make it three Oilers in the 60-goal club. There have only been 39 60-goal seasons in NHL history, and only 19 players have achieved the feat. It’s happened just twice in the last 25 years, with Steven Stamkos potting 60 in 2011-12 and Alex Ovechkin lighting the lamp 65 times in 2007-08.
If Draisaitl and Matthews both hit 60, this would be the first NHL season with multiple-60 goal scorers since 1995-96, when Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr scored 69 and 62, respectively.
Draisaitl Redefining Power Play Productivity
Two of Draisaitl’s tallies against the Predators came with the man-advantage, adding to his Oilers single-season record for power-play goals, which now stands at 23. Draisaitl had already broken a nearly four-decades old record, against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (April 12), when he scored his 21st power-play goal of 2021-22, surpassing the previous best of 20, notched by Gretzky in 1983-84 and equaled by Ryan Smyth in 1996-97.
Now, Draisaitl is making history anew with each power-play goal, driving up the record total to a number where it may never be touched. Unless, of course, Draisaitl himself breaks it in the seasons to come.
Draisaitl Is No One-Hit Wonder
It’s not at all far-fetched to think Draisaitl could keep setting and resetting records, because this type of season is actually more of a rule for the 26-year-old than it is an exception.
This is Draisaitl’s second 50-goal campaign, the first coming when he scored an even 50 in 2018-19. But that could have been his fourth consecutive were it not for the shortened schedules in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons because of the pandemic. Draisaitl was on pace for 50 goals in 2019-20 (he had 43 through 71 games) and would have made a serious run at 50 if last season featured a full 82-game schedule (he finished with 31 goals in 56 games in 2020-21).
Draisaitl now has 253 career goals, sixth most on the Oilers all-time list, trailing only Gretzky, Kuri, Anderson, Mark Messier and Smyth.
Draisaitl Finishing Like He Started
With 13 goals in his last 11 contests and 15 in the previous 14, Draisaitl is cooking right now, just as he was early in the season, when he shot out of the gate, scoring 17 times in Edmonton’s opening 15 games and 20 in the first 19. In fact, if he scores six goals in Edmonton’s remaining seven games, not only would he reach 60, he would also end the season scoring 20 goals in the final 20 games, equaling his performance to start the season when he notched 20 goals in the Oilers’ first 20 games.
Draisaitl isn’t likely to win the Rocket Richard trophy – four goals in two weeks is a lot to make up on Matthews given the rate the Maple Leafs’ forward is lighting the lamp of late – and even though an Oiler will almost certainly be nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy, it’s probably going to be McDavid, not Draisaitl.
Matthews and McDavid deserve all the applause. They’ve made a lot of noise. But if you listen carefully, then you’ll hear it: Draisaitl’s stats, speaking for themselves.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.