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GENE'S BLOG: Deadline Day Draisaitl

In his latest blog, Gene Principe writes about Leon Draisaitl's performance against the Predators on Trade Deadline day

by Gene Principe /

TORONTO, ON - A long day seems to always be the way it goes for NHL Trade Deadline day. 

It's become a huge event on Sportsnet as we hit the TV airwaves at 8:00 AM ET/6:00 AM MT. A cast of thousands (or so it seems) are deployed on our panels with people also located all across Canada and for that matter spots in the U.S. 

It's the kind of day you don't want to lose and you prefer to win. That could be said about every team in the NHL. In Edmonton's case, they didn't lose (any players) and didn't win any deals. None were made as Keith Gretzky and company held true. They weren't making a move if it didn't help the future. All was quiet from the Oilers.

An Oiler who wasn't quiet and certainly hasn't been is Leon Draisaitl. 

Video: EDM@NSH: Draisaitl pots SHG to open the scoring

He was one player on the team that had absolutely nothing to worry about on Deadline day. His only concern was playing against Nashville and doing so without Connor McDavid. It's been a weird stretch with the captain out of action for three of the last four games. One due to illness and two due to suspension (I know I still can't believe it). 

However, in the absence of greatness has come the opportunity for attention and in some way respect. Leon Draisaitl is a great player but... and the rest of the sentence would often be filled out with 'he plays with Connor McDavid.' Yes it's undeniable that is the case but you also can't deny that without No. 97, No. 29 has elevated his status around the League. 

This theme reminds me of what always used to happen when Wayne Gretzky wasn't in the lineup due to injury and eventuality because of a trade. Jari Kurri always had the same verbal asterisk that I often hear about Leon. Yes, Kurri was a great player, 'but he plays with Wayne Gretzky.' 

It was a different time but it seems like a similar theme this franchise went thru 30 years ago. Leon is a great player... period. It's obvious or at least becoming more obvious every time he plays. It's become clear when he does so without Connor. Another piece of evidence for the jury Monday night in Nashville. Leon nearly carried the club on his back for two points but eventually settled for one.

He is starting to put up numbers that will catch every teams' attention. Another example of what the German can do was on display versus the Predators. 

A shorthanded goal, his first. 

A powerplay goal, his 15th. 

His total goals, 38. 

Video: EDM@WSH: Draisaitl scores his second with rebound PPG

His reputation and numbers keep growing. The work on the man advantage is beginning to close in on franchise elite status. He's on pace for by which would tie a franchise record set by Wayne Gretzky and equaled by Ryan Smyth. Coincidentally both were in attendance at Bridgestone Arena to watch the latest challenger to their shared record. While that's impressive you could be equally wowed by his heroics in the overall goal-scoring race. Only two players in the entire NHL have scored more often than Leon. Forty-four for Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane with 39. 

If there is something that Leon Draisaitl has proven, it's that he can play well without Connor McDavid. 

He prefers not to but if or when necessary, not only can Leon drive a line but he can drive an entire team. If there is something to be remembered on Trade Deadline day 2019 it's that the Edmonton Oilers did nothing but Leon Draisaitl did a lot.

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