Nobody would blame you for making the fairly easy-to-make case that Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid is the best hockey player in the world right now.
In the confines of the current 2019-20 season, however, it has been McDavid’s teammate Leon Draisaitl that has been leading the way — and leading the entire league, in fact — as the aforementioned McDavid missed a few weeks due to injury.
Monday evening may have been the crowning achievement in the 24-year-old Draisaitl’s already sparkling season, scoring four goals and adding an assist for a five-point night against the Nashville Predators.
What a night for Leon Draisaitl.
The @EdmontonOilers forward recorded his first-ever four-goal game and boosted his League-leading 2019-20 point total to a career-high 107 (43-64—107 in 66 GP). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/URARCjpOBm
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 3, 2020
The quartet of goals, three of which came in the third period, gives him 43 on the season, two behind Alexander Ovechkin and Auston Matthews, and four behind league leader David Pastrnak. The five-point night raised his league-leading point total to 107 in 66 games, a career-high and a full 13 points ahead of the second-place McDavid.
Simply put: Draisaitl is closing in on lapping the field with his production, and the argument that playing alongside McDavid is the reason for his success doesn’t hold weight anymore. He moved to centre when McDavid went on the shelf, and has kept up his uncanny scoring pace no matter if he’s beside 97 or someone like Zack Kassian.
Leon Draisaitl shot 21.6% last year. He’s at 20.7% this year, and that’s with a league leading 14 times he’s hit iron.
Here’s the full list of players with 500+ minutes and a shooting % over 20% this year:
1. Pekka Rinne - 100%
2. Zach Hyman - 21.2%
3. Leon Draisaitl - 20.7%
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) March 3, 2020
What’s more, Draisaitl has raised his game as the season has gone on, upping his production as the Oilers battle to stay in the Pacific Division playoff picture. He put up 17 points in 9 games in January, following up with 23 over 14 games in February. Five points in the first game of March suggests that Draisaitl is continuing to come up big as the intensity of the games ratchet up.
If the Oilers hold onto their second-place spot in the division and Draisaitl continues his dominance of the league’s scoring leaderboard, voters will have to think long and hard about considering him as the Hart Trophy winner for league MVP.
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