Leon Draisaitl is the NHL scoring leader and a top Hart Trophy candidate, but should he be dinged for playing with Connor McDavid?
Entering Tuesday’s action, an Edmonton Oilers star is leading the NHL in points by a fair margin. Connor McDavid is the convenient answer, but it’s actually Leon Draisaitl with 110 points to McDavid’s 96 points in second place.
With 43 goals, Draisaitl is on pace for a second straight 50-goal season and he has already set career-highs for assists (67) and points (110). Any list of current MVP candidates includes him, and as long as the Oilers maintain a playoff spot he’ll stay in the running. It’s also notable that eight of the last 10 Hart Trophy winners have led the league in points or goals.
Critics will point to Draisaitl being a liability defensively at times, and his lack of positive impact on that end of the ice. Often sharing the ice with McDavid is also a lingering big point against him for some.
Via Natural Stat Trick, we can find some Draisaitl splits with and without McDavid.
Based on Corsi (shots + blocks + misses) and Fenwick (shots + misses), overall Shot and Scoring Chance rates so far this season, Draisaitl and McDavid are actually slightly better without each other. Offensive zone starts for Draisaitl have gotten a bump alongside McDavid, which taken with the ice time they share naturally creates more (and better) raw opportunities. But it’s safe to say McDavid has that effect on anyone he shares the ice with.
Draisaitl has played in all 70 games for Edmonton so far, while McDavid has now missed seven contests. In those seven games, Draisaitl has 12 points (four goals and eight assists; four multi-point games) with a shooting percentage of 25 percent over that span. His shooting percentage for the season overall is 20 percent. Edmonton is 3-2-2 in the games McDavid has missed thus far.
With his 110 points, Draisatl has had a hand in 49.3 percent of Edmonton’s offense this season (223 goals). He has been productive when McDavid has been out, and productive when he’s on a line separate from McDavid as well.
In terms of skill and talent, McDavid dwarfs everyone around him. But Draisaitl has become a star in his own right over the last two seasons, and to purely discount him based on how great McDavid is stands as a great disservice to one of the top scorers in the NHL. Did we discount a young Jaromir Jagr because he played next to Mario Lemieux? So let’s not do it to Draisaitl as he sticks around in the Hart Trophy conversation.
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