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

Leon Draisaitl

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.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

tampa bay lightning
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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

Rasmus Sandin
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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.