Leon Draisaitl accomplished something rare a season ago. The German star scored 50 goals for the first time in his career, the only player not named
Alex Ovechkin to accomplish the feat in the league. He also had over 100 points and eclipsed the 50 assist marker. He was the only player in the NHL to accomplish that in 2018-19.
Draisaitl’s banner year should be cause for celebration, but the German would surely trade it in. The personal success he accomplished a season ago was tremendous, but Draisaitl is looking for something else. Like Connor McDavid, Draisaitl wants to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s done everything in his power each of the last two seasons to get his club there, but they’ve fallen short both times.
“If I score 20 less goals and we make the playoffs, I’ll be so very happy,” he told reporters on Thursday. Draisaitl is expected to ride shotgun with McDavid again this season.
The reality is, if Draisaitl scores 20 less goals this season the Oilers will be in trouble. They’ll need him to hover around 40 tallies and help carry the offense. His point still remains, however. Draisaitl wants to make the postseason and he is willing to trade his stats to do it.
A lot has been made about the core Oilers not caring enough. It’s an easy thing to say when an organization struggles. Bottom line is, McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have not been properly supported by management over the years. Ken Holland wasn’t able to get meaningful forward help, but he did add depth and gives the bottom-six a new look.
If players like Josh Archibald and Markus Granlund can add some bottom-six scoring, while Riley Sheahan and the aforementioned wingers can kill penalties, the Oilers will be a better team.
Draisaitl might not have to trade in any goals if the new depth hires can perform and James Neal can rebound. That kind of secondary scoring and improved penalty killing should be enough to keep Edmonton in the race.
Perhaps then Draisaitl will get what he so badly wants, a return trip to the playoffs.