Is Leon Draisaitl a better playoff performer than Connor McDavid?
Leon Draisaitl has six goals and four assists to his captain's two goals and six assists through five games of the Oilers first-round series against the Kings and NHL fans are debating whether the 27-year-old German brings a higher level of competitiveness to postseason hockey than McDavid, while others believe Nathan MacKinnon has the greatest Stanley Cup pedigree.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Before we get to the poll that's out there and the results for that, Sam, can we discuss the genesis of all of this? With the discussion about--
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: [LAUGHS]
JULIAN MCKINZIE: --Leon Draisaitl-- how that went on Twitter? Can we start that, just to add that context about why we're discussing this.
SAM CHANG: I made what I thought was an innocuous comment. I didn't think controversial.
SAM CHANG: Some people are really mad about it. I said that watching the way MacKinnon took over Game 3, and watching the way Draisaitl has been playing-- not just this [INAUDIBLE], but in general, Draisaitl's playoff performance is insane. Like, it's unbelievable, the playoff performance he has. I think Avery said it, he just decides he's not going to lose. And he turns it on and they're just not going to lose. And to be clear, when I made this comparison in my mind, I wasn't saying these guys win every game. Like, obviously, it doesn't happen every game. But there are certain games where you watch them make that decision.
SAM CHANG: And I said, "is there a debate?" I didn't say, I've ended the debate, I've chosen a side. I said, I think it's debatable that McDavid is obviously the best player in the world, from a pure skills perspective, but is he the best player from the perspective of, I've decided I'm not going to lose this game. I'm going to put this team on my back. I'm going to drag them over the finish line whether they want to or not.
OMAR: In the regular season. Oh!
SAM CHANG: Yeah, in the regular season, for sure.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. And I think to Sam's point, there is a debate. I'll let you finish.
SAM CHANG: And I think there is a debate. Like watching the Oilers-- and I appreciate he brings it every game, but I think what I said in our chat was piss and vinegar. Like there is a level of cantankerous to MacKinnon and Draisaitl and some of these other players where it's like, I'm doing this and I don't care and I'm pissed off about it. It's the same quote MacKinnon had the other night. He was like, "I don't know. I'm just mad." And I don't get that from McDavid, maybe I just miss it. I think Avery is in a better position to comment on that, but it's not something that I necessarily expect of him or that I think he does in the same way those other players do. But there are some people who are really mad I said that.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: OK, well, people are always, for whatever reason, mad at you, and sometimes they-- here's the thing, it's one thing to disagree and to make your point. And I think you've shown-- I mean, look, we're all cool with debates and having those discussions. I mean, that's a big reason why this show exists to begin with. It's a whole other thing when you start questioning people's like hockey intellect and all that, and just throwing out insults. And screw those people. But I don't know. I think it's worth asking because Leon Draisaitl put up the points. He did a lot this postseason on one leg.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: That needs to be respected in all of this. Up until Game 5 for the Oilers, Leon Draisaitl was on the ice for all 14 goals scored by the Oilers in that series before Game 5. Like, you're going to tell me you don't want this type of player on your team? The one thing I disagree on with regards to Connor McDavid, all you have to do is go back to last postseason and there are two moments that stand out to me-- Leon-- sorry, Connor McDavid scoring the insurance marker against the La Kings in Game 7 and Connor McDavid scoring the overtime series-clinching goal against the Calgary Flames. Connor McDavid, in a debate with all four of those players, can say that he has had moments where, not only has he brought out the piss in the vinegar, he has won games in crucial moments and won series for the Edmonton Oilers. I think that needs to be brought up in all this.
I think there's a very good point to be made about having a debate because of all the points that Draisaitl puts up, but I also think Connor McDavid I think has every right, every right to say, hey, I've had my moments where I bring it too. When you bring in all four of those players-- and I mention only Auston Matthews because he's a part of that Top 5, and I think maybe some people would point to some moments that he's had and just because of how good of a player he is-- if I'm picking any of those guys, I've thought about this, it's down to Connor and Nathan for me. And while Connor is probably the greatest player we have ever seen, there's something about how Nathan drives that ice and just gets himself into playoff mode and does what he needs to do to get his team there.
Like, you took away his chickpea pasta and no one's getting anything-- no one's getting any pizza for the rest of the series. He just does it. And unlike Connor, unlike Leon, unlike Austin, he has a ring to prove it. And I think I have to pick Nathan. I think I have to pick Nathan. I am always amazed whenever Connor McDavid has the puck and he's able to do some crazy stuff, I fear for my life when I watch Nathan MacKinnon because he's going to bowl someone over. That's what it feels like every time I watch him. And he has won with that same passion. And if I'm picking one of those four players, fate of the universe on the line, Nathan MacKinnon is my pick.
OMAR: Yeah, I think--
JULIAN MCKINZIE: There's my pick.
OMAR: --yeah, when I saw the poll, I was going-- it's interesting, for you, Julian, that you're going between Connor and Nathan. For me, it was between Nathan and Leon because like--
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Fair.
OMAR: --playoff Draisaitl, man, is so frickin' stupid. The goals that come from him out of nowhere. Like, yeah, McDavid has the acceleration, he has the speed, he can cut through teams and such. But Draisaitl, it may not be a full on game, but sometimes he just jumps over the boards and just-- yeah, a switch goes off. But yeah, but because MacKinnon has the trophy, he has the ring to back it up. And we've seen so many times Nathan MacKinnon just hating to lose. I think-- I'm pretty sure it was last year where he was just like, I've been in the league six years and I haven't won shit. Like, mad. Like, pissed. And yeah, when he decides to take the game over, I don't see anyone being better. But man, Draisaitl is so sick. And yes, I'm saying that as someone who [INAUDIBLE] he wasn't a center. I'm completely wrong. [LAUGHS]
JULIAN MCKINZIE: That is a massive 180.
OMAR: That was a horrible--
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Omar is happy, his [? Leafs ?] are up 3-1, and he's picking Leon Draisaitl in this. This is--
OMAR: Yeah, you want to talk about [? all takes ?] [? exposed ?] like, that's--
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Wow.
OMAR: --and just to go, for people who picked Matthews, and I understand why to an extent, but there have been playoff series, man, where Matthews has been, poof, invisibility. Whereas those three players, win or lose, you notice them in those games, man. They're there. Matthews might be having his moment now, but, yeah, like-- and the players that they'll switch are just so special to watch.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Absolutely. Avery and then Sam, you can let us know between those four who would you pick?
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Personally, for me, I honestly think it's between Connor and Leon, because, again, these are two guys who are-- we saw them not seen their prime yet. They can still go with the higher places still. And again, too, if there was no Connor McDavid in league, Draisaitl would be the MVP again. Because people forget that McDavid overshadowed Draisaitl having another 120 point season. And he is also a former MVP. There are two MVPs on the same roster at Edmonton. Two MVPs in the Edmonton's Top 6. That's stupid.
And either one of them can bring it. And the point is, what I mentioned before is Connor. Connor is the game breaker himself. He's the man who-- we've seen him go one through five. We see them undressed the hot dog vendor in section 302 of Scotiabank Arena to get that Morgan Rielly goal. Like, this was the guy. And then Leon Draisaitl, just the entire-- Leon Draisaitl, "I'm not going to lose" factor is so scary. He's fourth all time in points per game in the playoffs. Fourth all time. This league is over 100 years old, Leon Draisaitl is 26, a fourth all time points in the playoffs. That still has not sunk in yet, to me, in terms of what Leon Draisaitl can do. And looking around, MacKinnon has the cup. Yeah, maybe MacKinnon is a game breaker. He is a--
JULIAN MCKINZIE: He is.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: --on the Avalanche but Nathan MacKinnon is not putting up consecutive seasons where he's at 120 points or 150, or reaching point totals that have not been seen since the mid-80s. He's not doing it.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: That's fair. That's fair. That's fair. So are you picking Leon for this?
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: You know what? I'm telling the aliens, screw you, I'm bringing both. I'm bringing both Leon and Connor.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: OK, no, you can't pick both.
OMAR: That's not fair!
JULIAN MCKINZIE: No, that's not fair. If you can pick both, we would all pick--
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: [LAUGHS]
JULIAN MCKINZIE: --no!
OMAR: No, that's not fair!
JULIAN MCKINZIE: No. No.
OMAR: That;s not fair, no. Pick one.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: No. Pick one.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: It's impossible to separate.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Of course, it's impossible. That's what we're debating in the first place.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: If I'm going to the alien--
OMAR: Gun to the Earth.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: --you're getting both. You're getting both.
OMAR: Gun to the Earth.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: No.
OMAR: You can only pick one.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: No. No! You have to pick one. We're not letting you go to [INAUDIBLE] until you pick one. Pick one.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Oh.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Don't make me use your middle name on stream.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: You already said my middle name.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Oh, sorry. My bad. Let me use your real-- your government name on stream. Let me use your real name.
Sorry, yes. We are using your middle name, don't make me use your real name on this, here. Just pick one.
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: All right. I will go-- I'll go Connor. I'll go Connor.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: OK, so I'm saying Nate Dogg, Omar is saying Leon, Avery's saying Connor, Sam, who do you pick?
SAM CHANG: I take Avery's point about how many point totals they have in the regular season, but let me just-- this is on Nathan MacKinnon's NHL.com player profile--
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Mm-hmm.
SAM CHANG: --in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he scored 5 goals from the Western Conference Final to the Stanley Cup Final, 4 that were in tying or go ahead fashion to win the Cup.
OMAR: That's a gamer.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: I mean, that's the game breaker, to me. That's someone coming-- that's someone coming up clutch in big moments.
SAM CHANG: I agree that regular season, those other players are more prolific than him. They're better players than him in the regular season. I think Rantanen is frankly a better player than him in the regular season. And I'm not talking about whether or not he's ever going to be able to match that, he's not. That's just not the player he is. It's just, from a pure, I hate losing, this pisses me off perspective. I feel like that. Yeah. Although, if you talk about clutch goals, maybe we should be picking Jordan Eberle.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: In fact, people who responded to the poll were thinking maybe we should pick [INAUDIBLE].
SAM CHANG: Yeah.
OMAR: That's-- Yeah. Uh.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: Ooh, man.
OMAR: I was like, yeah, Colorado and then-- uh-oh, right.
JULIAN MCKINZIE: By the way, I know Omar wants to get to something, but I'll just read the results, here, because we did do a poll online. 38.6% of people said if they had to pick between those four, Nathan MacKinnon. Followed second place by Connor at 33.7%, Leon Draisaitl at 14.7%, and then Matthews at 13%. It looked like Matthews was going to get more votes than Draisaitl, and I would have questioned a lot of people on Twitter. But common sense has prevailed. No disrespect to Auston Matthews, who is one of the great players we have in the game today. A Top 5 player, no doubt. But I'm picking Leon, Connor, and Nate above him in terms of playoff performers. I think that shouldn't be a dispute.