7 Cool Things About Leon Draisaitl

When you think of origins for NHL players, countries like Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland and Russia are ones that come to mind. Germany? Not so much. However, that could change years down the road, with Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl being the reason why.

Related: 7 Cool Things About Connor McDavid

Being taken third overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft was exciting in its own right for German hockey fans, but even Draisaitl’s biggest supporters would have never imagined him getting to the level he’s at now. At 27 years old, he has a Hart Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, and a Ted Lindsay Award. With his offensive skill, he will likely have even more hardware by the time his career is all said and done.

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While his on-ice play receives most of the talk, Draisaitl is an interesting character, one that doesn’t shy away from the media quite as much as his teammate in Connor McDavid. With that being said, here are seven cool things about the German star.

All-Time German Leading Scorer

In a game on Apr. 26 of the 2020-21 season, Draisaitl put up a goal and an assist in a 6-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. While a multi-point outing is nothing out of the usual for him, this one was particularly special. The second point of that night happened to be the 488th of his career, which passed fellow countrymen Marco Sturm and made him the highest-scoring German forward of all time.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Draisaitl now sits at 569 points, and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Perhaps even more impressive is that he has been able to put up that many points despite playing in only 520 games.

German Gretzky

Due to his success, not only at the NHL level but as a kid playing hockey, he has been referred to for a long time as the German Gretzky. Draisaitl has made it clear that he isn’t a huge fan of the name, as he sees Wayne Gretzky as the best player of all time and doesn’t believe he is anywhere near that.

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Perhaps what makes the nickname even more awkward is that he plays for the Oilers, a team in which Gretzky put up 1,669 points for. While he will never get to Gretzky’s level, however, he is undeniably the best German hockey player of all time, and will likely remain that for many years.

Dad Played Professional Hockey

Despite not hockey being nearly as famous in Germany as it is in Canada, Draisaitl’s love of the game came from his dad, Peter, who played several years of professional hockey himself. His entire 18-year professional career was spent entirely in Germany, with six seasons coming in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Since retiring, Peter has coached professional hockey for a number of years, the most recent coming in Austria during the 2020-21 season with the Bratislava Capitals. Oilers fans can thank Peter for developing Draisaitl’s passion for the game.

Scored Last Ever Goal in Rexall Place

Draisaitl’s first full season as an Oiler came back in 2015-16, which happened to be the last ever season played in Rexall Place. That building has plenty of history, having been the arena throughout the Oilers’ five Stanley Cup Championships and seeing tons of Hall of Fame players over the years.

Draisaitl himself has some history in Rexall Place, as he scored the final goal in the building. On April 6, the Oilers hosted the Vancouver Canucks in their final home game of the season. Up 5-2 late in the third, the game was already sealed, but Draisaitl was able to add another late marker for not only his 21st of the season, but the final goal ever in the Oilers’ old home.

6-Assist Game

On Jan. 30, 2021, Draisaitl had one of the best games of his career, putting up six assists in an 8-5 win over the Ottawa Senators. With the big night, he became the first Oiler since Gretzky back in 1987 to record six assists in a contest, and became the first NHLer to do so since Eric Lindros back in 1997.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Even more impressively, Draisaitl was just one assist shy of tying an all-time NHL record seven assists. That mark has been hit three times by Gretzky, and one other time by Billy Taylor Sr. It goes to show that while Draisaitl is known by many as a goal scorer due to his 50-goal campaign in 2018-19, he is also a tremendous playmaker.

Memorial Cup MVP

Just months after being drafted, Draisaitl cracked the Oilers roster out of training camp and remained with them for the first 37 games of the season. However, with the team going nowhere and him struggling with just seven points, management made the decision to send him to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

This move turned out to be very beneficial to Draisaitl, as he dominated in the WHL and led the Rockets to a league championship. Unfortunately, they fell short in the Memorial Cup Final against the Oshawa Generals, but despite the losing effort Draisaitl was still voted as the tournament’s MVP. The confidence he gained from that season paid off in a big way, as he was much better the next season with the Oilers, recording 51 points in 72 games.

Played With Oilers Against Hometown Team

Prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, the Oilers played an exhibition game in Germany against the Cologne Sharks. Playing in his country would have been cool enough on its own for Draisaitl, but what made it even better was that it came against his hometown team, one which his dad was coaching at the time.

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Draisaitl was in the starting lineup for the Oilers and had a loud ovation for the crowd when his name was announced. It was clear at the time that it meant a lot to him, and he expressed that in his postgame comments. The game itself was a very exciting one, as the Oilers walked away with a 4-3 overtime victory.

Exposing Hockey to New Crowd

Hockey is a game that is continuously growing around the world, and people like Draisaitl are a big reason why. There is no doubt that any young kids playing hockey in Germany today idolize the Oilers forward, and are hoping to one day reach the NHL like he has. They will have plenty more to watch from him going forward, as he has several great seasons still ahead of him.

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