Leon Draisaitl’s two-year run of dominance puts him in rare company

Leon Draisaitl
Getty
5 Comments

Leon Draisaitl needed just 65 games this season to reach the 100-point mark for the Edmonton Oilers.

That is ridiculously fast for this era of the NHL and comes after an almost equally dominant offensive performance from him a year ago.

He enters Monday’s game against the Nashville Predators with a commanding 11-point lead in the NHL scoring race, and (as mentioned in this week’s Power Rankings) is just 11 goals away from recording what would be his second consecutive 50-goal, 100-point season.

He has 17 games to do it. I like his chances, and you should too.

(Update: He scored four goals on Monday night after publication and now just needs seven goals in 16 games to do it.)

If he does end up reaching it, it would put him in some elite company for the NHL’s modern era.

Since the start of the 1992-93 season (27 seasons) the only players in the league to hit those milestones in back-to-back years are Alex Ovechkin (three years in a row from 2007-08 to 2009-10), Dany Heatley (2005-06 and 2006-07), Mario Lemieux (1995-96 and 1996-97) and Pavel Bure (1992-93 and 1993-94).

As if that is not enough, he is also on track for what would be one of the most productive two-year runs over the past two decades.

Assuming he stays healthy and maintains his current pace offensively, he is on track for 233 total points over this most recent two-year run.

Just for some perspective on how wildly productive that is, here are the only players to record more points over a two-year run since the start of the 1995-96 season.

  • Mario Lemieux: 283 points (1995-96 to 1996-97)
  • Jaromir Jagr: 244 points (1995-96 to 1996-97)
  • Joe Thornton: 239 points (2005-06 to 2006-07)

Lemieux and Jagr were linemates together in Pittsburgh during their two seasons listed here.

It is also worth noting that Draisaitl’s teammate, Connor McDavid, is also on track to top the 230-point mark over these past two seasons even though he has missed six games this season. But McDavid is almost universally regarded as the league’s best offensive player. Everyone knows how great he has been. The reason we are focussing on Draisaitl here, however, is because the perception of him throughout his career has always been strange given how consistently productive he has been.

When he signed his current eight-year, $68 million contract there was a pretty widely held belief that it was an overpay on the part of the Oilers. Not even three full seasons into the deal, though, it looks like it is going to be a bargain under the salary cap given his production.

There was also the criticism that his offensive production was mostly dependent on having McDavid as his center. But he has shown this season that he can not only carry his own line and still score at an elite rate, but he also had 12 points in the six games that McDavid did not play due to injury.

Obviously goal and point totals are far from the end all and be all of player evaluation, and that alone isn’t enough to give a player the Hart Trophy or make them the best player in the league. But there is still a ton to be said for being able to drive a team’s offense the way he has and to score at a level over multiple seasons that has typically only been reserved for Hall of Famers.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.