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German-born Draisaitl set for draft, soccer match

by Mike G. Morreale

Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl is scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia on Wednesday to prepare for all the pomp and circumstance that will accompany the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center this weekend.

Draisaitl, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for this year's draft, is projected to hear his name in the early stages of the first round on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). Considered a power-forward with good touch around the net, Draisaitl finished with 38 goals and 105 points in 64 regular-season games in the Western Hockey League in 2013-14. He also played for Germany at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship and IIHF World Championship.

"I'm so excited and I can't wait for [draft] day," Draisaitl told "The last couple of weeks have gone by so quick and this will be pretty much the most exciting time of my life."

The excitement could reach another level if the native of Cologne, Germany, learns Thursday that his country earned a victory against the United States in the soccer World Cup. The teams enter the game tied atop Group G with four points; the winner assures itself of a spot in the round of 16.

"I'm excited for the game," Draisaitl said. "It's hard to predict, but since the Americans are playing pretty good it's going to be a tight game. I still think Germany is better and will win."

In the group stage of the World Cup wins are three points and ties are worth one point. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout round; besides Germany and the U.S., Ghana and Portugal remain alive for spots. All four teams have one game remaining.

"I'm a little bit surprised how well the U.S. has played but they play hard and deserve the recognition. They have a German coach [Jurgen Klinsmann] so they have to be good," he said while laughing.

Draisaitl acknowledged that he will watch the game at some point Thursday with his family somewhere in Philadelphia. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound left-handed shooter said he collected soccer jerseys growing up in Germany but that "they might be a little too small to wear now."

"I'm really excited and proud to be German and root for my country," Draisaitl said. "I hope we can finally win the World Cup again."

If the United States and Germany play to a draw Thursday, Germany will win the group and the United States would finish second.


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