EDMONTON, AB - The success of Leon Draisaitl, before Oilers General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland's arrival, was well-documented.
To the executive, Draisaitl's awarding of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer on Tuesday is a testament to the German's dedication to both individual and collective Oilers improvement that began well before Holland took charge in Oil Country.
"As a 24-year-old player he continues to take steps forward in his career, so it's a tremendous accomplishment," Holland said via video conference call on Wednesday. "It's a tremendous accomplishment by Leon and it's a credit to his commitment, his passion, the hard work he's put in, and his determination over the course of the last three-to-five seasons to take steps forward in his career."
Video: RAW | Holland 05.27.20
A 50-goal, 105-point season in '18-19 from Draisaitl the season before Holland assumed leadership of the Oilers front office put the NHL on notice. But when mulling the decision to depart the Detroit Red Wings after 22 seasons as their GM, the strength Holland saw in the Oilers wasn't limited to one half of the Dynamic Duo.
Factor in the name Connor McDavid, and the club's foundation was set long before his arrival with this season's top-two point producers.
"As a general manager, and if you're a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, we're very fortunate to have two great players who are 23 and 24 years of age and really probably just coming into their prime years as athletes," he added.
Both are experiencing their fair share of individual success in the front end of their careers, with McDavid boasting two of his own Art Ross Trophies to go along with two Ted Lindsay Awards in 2017 & 2018 and a Hart Memorial Trophy in 2017.
But their importance on the collective goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to Edmonton is immeasurable.
"Certainly they're driven individually," Holland said. "I think any athlete is driven individually, but team success is very important to both young players. These are two players who are great, great players and just comping into the prime of their careers.
"They have great chemistry off the ice, they respect one another, they're very committed to team success."
With details of the NHL's Return To Play Plan announced, Draisaitl and McDavid are poised to make their return to the postseason in a best-of-five Qualifying Round against the Chicago Blackhawks - set to be played late summer.
"I think that's why we're all excited about the opportunity," Holland said. "We were excited to finish the season to see if we could play our way into the playoffs and see what we could accomplish."