Leon Draisaitl is the best player in the National Hockey League.
That is, at least, the opinion of the NHL Players’ Association and the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association as of Monday night, as the Edmonton Oilers forward scooped both the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Trophy.
It’s interesting to note that the 24-year-old won these honours during a season that was not only cut to ribbons by a pandemic but pushed the forward to his own line, away from Connor McDavid in even strength situations at least.
And so Draisaitl was the only NHLer to score 100 points in the 2019-2020 season, with a career high 110 points in 71 games. That is pretty special.
When Draisaitl and McDavid were reunited on the power play, it felt so good. As in, the man advantage clicked along at a ripping-good 29.4 percent for the Oilers – the second most prolific power play in NHL history.
Last season, Draisaitl was the only NHL player to hit 50 goals and 100 points. See a trend?
When McDavid was out with an injury in mid-February this season, Draisaitl put the Oilers on his back and scored six goals for a total of a dozen points in that span.
“Connor and I have a very healthy, competitive relationship,” Draisaitl said. “We just try to make each other better every day.”
The German forward is intent on giving Edmonton a one-two punch that will hopefully generate some serious playoff success too, but this year wasn’t the year. Again. That sort of winning has proven elusive for this insanely talented group, what with this year’s loss to the Blackhawks in four games in the Qualifying Round still stinging.
Draisaitl had six points in those four games, by the way.
“No, this doesn’t make up for it,” he said of the awards on Monday. “It’s a nice personal award for myself, but there’s nothing that comes ahead of the Stanley Cup. If I could hand those two awards back in for a Stanley Cup I would do it in a heartbeat, and so would everyone else.”
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