In the middle of a night of prestigious honors, Draisaitl’s gaze remains fixed on the Cup


EDMONTON – Connor McDavid casts a long shadow over Edmonton, one that Leon Draisaitl definitively emerged from Monday as the newest best hockey player, winning both the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award.

The fact that it came in a season where Draisaitl was transferred to his own line and away from McDavid tied is apropos, as the 24-year-old German – known locally as Deutschland Dangler – has become the only player. of the NHL to score 100 points. during the 2019-20 season, reaching a career high of 110 in just 71 games.

He was Edmonton’s best player – period – and as such he was named best player in the league by members of the NHL Players Association (Ted Lindsay) and voting members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (Hart ).

“I know the comments, what a lot of people think,” Draisaitl said of McDavid’s shadow play. “My opinion was always different, but everyone has their own opinion. I found chemistry with [Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins], we clicked at the end and had a good run. The coaching staff, the trust they place in me, keeps me coming out again and again. I probably didn’t deserve it sometimes.

When the two Oilers center players teamed up on the power play, Edmonton led the league with a 29.4% success rate – the second-highest in NHL history. It’s really like Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin West, without the playoff success just yet.

“Connor and I have a very healthy and competitive relationship,” Draisaitl said. “We just try to improve ourselves every day.”

A season ago, Draisaitl was the only player in the NHL with 50 goals and 100 points. This season, while no one else has hit 100 points, he has had 110, leading the league with 67 assists.

After coaching against Draisaitl and the Oilers for many years, first-year Oilers head coach Dave Tippett saw a whole new player when he watched Draisaitl every day behind the Edmonton bench.

“There was a lot of motivation, especially from Connor and Leon,” Tippett began. “With the change of Ken [Holland, Oilers general manager] and I, they really wanted to get things done in the right direction. Playing together Leon and Connor at the start, the two really took the team on the back and said, “Look, we’re going to be better this year. The rest of the team followed.

With McDavid out for six games Feb. 11-21, Draisaitl led the Oilers with six goals and 12 points.

“What impressed me the most about Leon was how much impact Leon made when the game was on the line,” Tippett said. “When we needed a goal at some point. Or your power play needed to score to really seal a game. Or in overtime… He had an impact on the results of the games, which really got him to win an award like this.

McDavid was 20 when he won his only Hart Trophy. Sidney Crosby won his first Hart at 19. Alex Ovechkin, 22.

Draisaitl joins Dirk Nowitzki, who won a National Basketball Association MVP award in 2006-07, as the only German athletes to be named the top players in a North American sports league. Coincidentally, Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies – who grew up in Edmonton – may well become the first player raised in Canada to ever be named Bundesliga MVP.

“I am very honored,” Draisaitl said. “I hope it will give a little [German] children have more joy in starting hockey than other sports.

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Draisaitl scored 43 goals in 71 games played by Edmonton before the season was interrupted. This pro-rate to 49.66 goals, if he had played in the last 11 games.

The Oilers were on fire in the playoffs, however, losing in four games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifying round, despite having six points in four games by Draisaitl.

On the night the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars played in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, rather than make a Zoom call at 1:15 am German time, he would have preferred to prepare for a hockey game at Rogers Square. .

“No, that doesn’t make up for that,” he said of Edmonton’s unexpected early exit. “It’s a great personal reward for me, but there’s nothing that comes before the Stanley Cup. If I could present these two awards for a Stanley Cup, I would do it in the blink of an eye, just like everyone else.

“It’s a beautiful day, I’m proud and happy for sure. But my goal in my career is to win the Stanley Cup.


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