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GENE'S BLOG: Leon on Me

In his latest blog, Gene Principe talks about Leon Draisaitl's stellar play lately, including last night in Winnipeg

by Gene Principe / Special to EdmontonOilers.com

So time for another weekly blog and the easy (and maybe obvious) write would be Connor McDavid. Let's see: seven-game point streak (6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points) and 34 points on the season. Tops in the NHL. 23 assists, number one in the league. He has six three-point games this season and in the first 70 games of his career he has 10. Wayne Gretzky had 15. Sidney Crosby seven (shout out to @SNStats for the help).

Tweet from @SNstats: Connor McDavid's stats through his first 70 career games are better than a couple of #Oilers legends pic.twitter.com/aEXW11IyGk

Yet don't get your schnitzel in a knot because I'm going German over Canadian and writing about Leon Draisaitl.

Doesn't mean I haven't already spoken about Connor and won't continue to in this article but Leon has earned a few hundred words of praise for his game Thursday and his season. Against Winnipeg, it was a move back to the wing for Leon which is nothing new but for the first time he started a game on the side of McDavid.

"I think the thing about those two," said Todd McLellan. "Is they are speed and finesse. The defence doesn't know if they are going to get hit with speed or finesse."

Well, the Jets defence was hit by both in the second meeting of the season between the two teams.

Video: EDM@WPG: Draisaitl spins, backhands home a goal

By the time Edmonton and Winnipeg was over, the German had played 15:03 including 3:26 of which was on the power play. He had a team-high eight shots, scored on two of those and added one assist while winning five of nine faceoffs even though, technically speaking, he was playing on the wing.

The third-overall pick now has 20 points on the season (9 goals, 11 assists) in 25 games. Me, and many others, often rattle on about McDavid's numbers and rightfully so. This time I thought it was an opportunity to give you the stat line on Leon and it's an impressive one. Here's one more impressive number: he just turned 21.

Leon was the highest drafted and raised German player ever. Dany Heatley was also born overseas but that was about it for his time in Deustchland. It was much different for Leon who stayed home until coming overseas as a teenager to pursue his hockey dream.

Video: EDM@WPG: Draisaitl jams home a PPG in front

When I look back to the 2014 draft where he was chosen third overall, I remember noticing two things about Leon: how well he spoke English and how big he was as an 18 year old. While he took a step back to the WHL for a time, which is looking like a great decision, there was no doubt he would play in the NHL. What's happened this season could partially be attributed to what he did before; it even began while Leon was at the World Cup.

While representing Team Europe, which in itself was a glowing endorsement, he showed a scoring touch and acceleration that could be used to describe his skating and his development. He returned to Edmonton looking and acting like a player who proved something to himself. Despite his movement on lines and positions, Leon has towed the party line. Saying he would play either wing/centre and it was more about what's best for the team. Turns out both are best for the team depending on what Edmonton needs at any specific moment.

Connor McDavid could win the scoring title and tally more than 100 points. However, it's clear secondary scoring is paramount to the Oilers success and Draisaitl's message is clear: you can Leon Me.

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