Skip to main content
All-Star Game

McDavid, Draisaitl not resting on All-Star success with Oilers

Top two scorers in NHL always working on ways to improve

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are the top two point-scorers in the NHL this season, making them the obvious game-plan focus of every Edmonton Oilers opponent.

No matter. They keep on scoring.

McDavid leads the League with 76 points (27 goals, 49 assists) in 49 games. Draisaitl is second with 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 49 games.

They have the Oilers (27-18-5) contending for the Pacific Division title and trying to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017.

The two sometimes play on the same line, but other than on the power play and in 3-on-3 overtime, they've played mostly on separate lines in the weeks leading to their appearance for the Pacific Division at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Jan. 25 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Video: EDM@CGY: McDavid uses speed to dazzle on breakaway

Together or apart, they each have developed a remarkable ability for outfoxing, outworking and outpacing efforts to stop them. 

"I've been doing that forever," said McDavid, the center and Oilers captain who will be playing in his fourth NHL All-Star Game. "I used to get shadowed when I was 8 years old. Really early. Even now, you see teams do it. So it's something I've been dealing with for a long time."

How? The 23-year-old smiled as he shook his head to suggest he wasn't interested in answering but relented a little.

"It's not much of a secret," he said. "You've got to work hard, got to outwork the other guy and got to outwork the other team. Sometimes outsmart them every now and then, but it all starts with the work."

Draisaitl, a year older at 24 and selected to his second consecutive NHL All-Star Game, has had a similar career experience, attracting constant attention from minor hockey, junior and pro opponents.

Video: EDM@TOR: Draisaitl picks the corner for PPG

The forward said his own adaptability is a matter of survival.

"I think you just have to," Draisaitl said. "If you don't do that, you stand still, and teams are going to figure you out. So you have to stay creative and find different ways to have an impact on the game.

"Some nights, it's not just scoring two goals. There are different ways to have an impact on the game. I've always been decent at it, doing a good job at it and looking to get better at it and keep going."

The evidence suggests McDavid and Draisaitl continue to adapt, each on pace for another career-best season.

McDavid has improved his point total in each of his NHL seasons, from 48 points in 2015-16 as a rookie, when he missed 37 games because of a broken collarbone, to 100 points to win the scoring title in 2016-17, to 108 points when he won it again in 2017-18.

Video: EDM@TOR: McDavid converts jaw-dropping goal

He raised the bar again last season when he was second in NHL scoring with 116 points (41 goals, 75 assists) in 78 games, behind only the 126 points by Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Draisaitl also had a career-best season in 2018-19, finishing fourth in the NHL with 105 points (50 goals, 55 assists) in 82 games. His 50 goals were second in the League, one behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Adaptability is what all-star players do so well, said Zack Kassian, McDavid's linemate for most of this season.

"They're so deceptive and so creative," he said of McDavid and Draisaitl. "They're always thinking ahead of the play. They can adapt in a game in a shift or two. They realize ... how the defensive pair is playing them, how the other forwards are playing them. Connor can essentially play any way he wants, with his speed and his puck-handling ability and what he can do at full speed. And Leon, it's about how strong he is but then he can kill you with his skill, too.

"So they're both two dynamic players and it's pretty scary to think just how young they are. They probably haven't hit their ceilings, which is pretty scary."

Video: NYR@EDM: Draisaitl shovels puck home on power play

Veteran forward Milan Lucic of the Calgary Flames, McDavid's and Draisaitl's teammate for the previous three seasons, said if McDavid became more selfish with the puck, jaws would drop even more frequently than they already do.

"There's guys that can probably skate as fast as Connor can but they're not able to change direction, make plays, see where everything is at the speed he's able to go," Lucic said. "So that's what separates him from probably everyone else that's ever played the game. I think one year when he decides not to pass, how many goals is he going to score? Seventy? Seventy-five? I don't know if he'll get to 100 but I could easily see him getting 70 because he can go end-to-end and do those type of things."

Projected ceilings are a fun discussion but consistency over the long haul is at the core of becoming an elite NHL player.

Oilers veteran forward Alex Chiasson said McDavid and Draisaitl measure up there because they are committed to the training, the practice and the time required.

"It's hard to score in this League and 5-on-5," Chiasson said. "Those two put in the work. You just don't show up to the rink and be as good as they are.

"Speaking for myself, it's the hardest thing. If you're consistent in your daily habits, your routine, you have confidence and you go out on the ice and feel good. There's a lot that's expected from those guys. They expect a lot of themselves. All that said, it's about how they have to prepare and play that they can go out and do what they do."

McDavid and Draisaitl are looking forward to All-Star Weekend for many reasons. Showing off a little on the ice has certainly crossed their minds, given that Draisaitl was the winner of the Enterprise NHL Premier Passer at the All-Star Skills last year and McDavid has won the past three Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater events at the skills.

But each seems more eager for the social aspect of being around their peers.

Video: MTL@EDM: Draisaitl stakes Oilers to early lead

"[The 3-on-3 tournament] was fun last year, obviously not as competitive as a normal game, but you get to show off a little bit and not take it as seriously," Draisaitl said. "It was all a great experience, being around all these superstars, the best players in the world. It was my first time being there, a lot of fun.

"It was very helpful in a way ... there's a lot of things you can learn from them but it's more about talking with them. It's nice to see guys that you battle against, guys you usually go up against head-to-head and see what great guys they are away from the rink. I'm excited to go back."

McDavid said his first NHL All-Star Game, in 2017 in Los Angeles, when the League celebrated its centennial by unveiling the 100 Greatest NHL Players, stands out.

"That was probably my favorite one so far," McDavid said. "It was the 100th year of the NHL and they had the best 100 players. The retired players that were there, that was exciting. And it was in L.A., a great city.

"It's fun to be around the other guys, to get to know them. Obviously it's the best of the best in the entire world and it's a very relaxed setting and everyone's in a good mood so it's always a lot of fun."
 

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.