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Draisaitl getting more comfortable in North America

by Brianne Sakowich / Edmonton Oilers

CALGARY, AB - Leon Draisaitl of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders is currently ranked number two in the NHL Central Scouting Service Draft Rankings. Draisaitl moved to North America from Germany in 2012 and was drafted second overall by the Raiders in the 2012 CHL import draft.

In 2010-11, Draisaitl would tally 97 goals and 95 assists in 29 games with the Mannheim U16 team, the club would win the German Championship. He would be named the DNL’s (German Junior Hockey League) player of the year in 2011-12. He played for Jungadler and ended the season with 21 goals and 35 assists in 35 games. He would also tally six goals and six assists in eight playoff games, helping the team win the junior championship.

This 6’1” 199 lbs centreman played his first-ever CHL season last year and ended it with 21 goals and 37 assists totalling 58 points in 64 regular season games. He would also get four assists in four playoff games.  Draisaitl is currently in his second season with the Prince Albert Raiders. He has tallied 19 goals, 35 assists equally 54 points in 35 games.

“I think my season’s been really good so far for me. I mean, I produce pretty well so far. I’m just hoping to keep it going that way,” he said.

He believes that coming over to North America from was the right decision for him and his game.

“I mean it’s definitely the right decision,” Draisaitl continued. “I played my last year in Germany and it’s always been my goal to play overseas, and it was my dream to play in the CHL one day, and that’s why I decided to come over here. Start a new chapter over here.”

But even with the drive and determination, turning the page to start that new chapter came with a few challenges, which he has overcome.

“Everything, it’s pretty hard. I mean the language, my English wasn’t that good. I didn’t know any of those guys. I had to get to know them all and stuff like that. It definitely wasn’t all easy and then hockey was the small ice surface and stuff like that. It’s a different type of game than we play in Europe so had to get used to that for sure. Took me a while but I think now I’m adjusted pretty good.”

The winger was asked if he had any doubts about coming over to North America.

“At the beginning, maybe not doubts but I mean I was concerned with how I’m doing, how my English is going to turn out or on the ice cause I knew it was a big step going over from Europe to Canada and it’s a big step. I was maybe a little bit concerned how I’m gonna be and if I’ll be fine. It turned out being really good.”

Leon Draisaitl

Draisaitl has played for Germany in the IIHF World Juniors twice: in 2013 and again in 2014 where he was named captain and led the team to fifth place.

Leon Draisaitl is the son of long-time German National centre, Peter Draisaitl, who played in many international tournaments.

“He was huge for me. I mean he used to play hockey, professional hockey, over 20 years he played three Olympics. He helped me out a lot and big things and the little things. I mean how to handle media and stuff like that, that he definitely he’s been a big help for me.”

Draisaitl was named to Team Orr for the BMO CHL Top Prospects game on January 15, 2014 at the Scotiabank Saddledome Arena in Calgary, AB. Where Draisaitl plans to continue to show the type he is.

“I’m a playmaking centre. Big, strong, good at protecting the puck and sees the ice really well.”

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