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Draisaitl hopes to help develop hockey in Germany

by Adam Kimelman

TORONTO -- Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl certainly would love to hear his name called first at the 2014 NHL Draft.

But for the native of Cologne, Germany, being the highest-drafted German-born player in NHL history is just as important.

"I'd be extremely proud and honored," Draisaitl said. "We've had some high picks. To be considered as maybe the highest-drafted German player ever would be a huge honor."

Right now that honor belongs to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Marcel Goc, who was selected by the San Jose Sharks with the 20th pick of the 2001 draft.

Draisaitl is No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 draft. He was fourth in the Western Hockey League with 105 points in 64 games. He also had six points in six games for Germany at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship and four points in seven games for Germany at the IIHF World Championship.

"He's the best prospect I've seen from this draft class at protecting and handling the puck," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald said. "He's very Jaromir Jagr-esque. He protects the puck, makes those button hooks and hits guys coming in late. He'll hold onto that puck until he sees the right play to make. He has a great wrist shot and good snap shot and can surprise a lot of goalies with it."

Draisaitl had 18 interviews during the early part of the NHL Scouting Combine and hopes that these meetings, combined with his performance in fitness testing on Saturday and his play during the season, gives teams the full scope of his talent.

"They need to know what kind of guy you are," he said. "And I think it's really important for them to know what kind of guy I am and how I work off the ice. That's a really important part of it. It's not only about the ice. That's something that's really important as well."

Wherever he ends up, Draisaitl wants to do for the next generation of German players what players like Goc, Marco Sturm, Christian Ehrhoff and Jochen Hecht did for him.

"German players don't come along very often," he said. "We just don't have the best development. I don't like saying it because I'm proud to be German, but it's important for German hockey to have a guy like Christian and other guys like Goc, so little kids have guys to look up to. I want to be the same type of guy. I want to be a guy that maybe makes younger guys in Germany play hockey. I'm proud to be German and I want to make the country proud and make as many kids play hockey as possible."


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