Where’s the love for Edmonton Oilers centerman Leon Draisaitl? When TSN released their Top 50 Player rankings in early October, Edmonton Oilers fans looked to see where their favourite players were ranked. Fans have grown used to seeing Connor McDavid at the top of the list, as this is now his fifth consecutive season at the number one position. However, Draisaitl’s ranking was a surprise. He fell from number three last season to a ranking of number five for the 2021-22 season. Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leaf centre Auston Matthews and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov were all ranked higher than Draisaitl, and one has to wonder what Draisaitl has to do to earn more respect beyond the borders of Edmonton.
Draisaitl did finish second in league scoring last season and was the Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner the year before. He drives his own line, and plays significant minutes away from his teammate and friend McDavid. And yes, Draisaitl does play on the power play with McDavid, but why not more love for a player who could very well be the second or third-best player in the world? There is no doubt that MacKinnon, Matthews and Kucherov are all deserving of their top five rankings, especially MacKinnon. However, it’s debatable whether Matthews and Kucherov deserved to finish ahead of Draisaitl. Matthews is a great goal-scorer; there is no doubt about that. But he also has the love of the national media based out of Toronto. Meanwhile, Kucherov’s most recent playoff performance helped elevate his position, but it remains to be seen if he can stay consistent.
Looking back at the past three TSN Top 50 Player Rankings, here’s where Draisaitl finished:
2019-20 Season – 11th place
2020-21 Season – third place
2021-22 Season – fifth place
Based on Draisaitl’s career trajectory, he’s just entering the prime of his career; that’s why the drop in the rankings this season doesn’t seem to tell the whole story. He might be deserving of a little bit more respect from voters.
Draisaitl Named to German Men’s Olympic Hockey Team
On October 8, Draisaitl, along with fellow countrymen Phillip Grubauer of the Seattle Kraken and Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings, were named to Germany’s Olympic team. Winners of the silver medal in Men’s Hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, the German team, led by Draisaitl, is looking to contend for a medal in 2022. With NHL players returning to the Olympics this season, the competition will be tougher, but Germany has made big strides in the past few years and could surprise everyone at the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing.
Germany’s hockey program continues to get stronger thanks to the popularity of Draisaitl and exciting young players like Tim Stützle of the Ottawa Senators. Draisaitl’s NHL success has translated into greater recognition for himself and the sport of hockey in Germany. In 2020, Draisaitl was voted Germany’s Sportsman of the Year, making him the first hockey player to win the award since its inception in 1947. If Draisaitl and Germany do well in the upcoming Olympics, this will help him emerge out of McDavid’s shadow even more. And possibly help him move up in the next Top 50 Player rankings.
Does Oilers Defenceman Darnell Nurse Deserve To Be In the TSN Top 50?
McDavid and Draisatl are perennial favourites when it comes to selecting preseason Top 50 Player rankings. Given Nurse’s recent play, one has to wonder if he’s poised to join McDavid and Draisaitl in the Top 50.
That last Oilers player not named McDavid or Draisaitl to appear in the TSN Top 50 Player rankings was Cam Talbot, who finished 47th in 2017-18. Maybe next season Nurse will make the cut, especially if he continues to improve his play and earns an invitation to try out for Canada’s Olympic Hockey Team.
D. Edward Bochon covers the Edmonton Oilers. His background is in marketing writing where he worked with the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Football Club (now known as the Elks), and the Edmonton Rush of the NLL.