#2: Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers
It’s difficult to showcase how talented of a player you are when Connor McDavid is on your team, but Leon Draisaitl still manages to shine for the Edmonton Oilers as he’s grown to be one of the most dominant forwards in the NHL.
Similar to the rest of his fellow classmates of the 2014 NHL Draft, Draisaitl didn’t achieve recognition as a legitimate player in the league until his third season in, when he registered 77 total points in a full 82 games played, winning just shy of 50% of his faceoffs while tallying up an astounding 75 takeaways on the campaign.
Since the 2018-19 NHL regular season, the 6’2″ – 210 lbs skater from Cologne, Germany has earned his place as one of the top players in the game of hockey and has grown to be the second-best true center in the NHL.
Leon Draisaitl is the rare occurrence of a big-bodied forward who makes up for what he lacks in skill by perfecting his zone coverage and elite stick skills. Because he’s unable to keep up with the speed demons of today’s game, Draisaitl has taken the approach of boxing players into the corners of the ice and smothering them thanks to his underrated size.
Armed with a wicked hockey IQ and unreal body control, Draisaitl leaves puck carriers with no other choice but to skate through him which almost always results in a quick stick check and takeaway, leading the rush the other way.
During the time span of 2016-present day, Leon has played 529 games (missing 19 due to injury), scored 285 goals, 399 assists (684 points), won 53.2% of his faceoffs (4,755 total wins), and recorded nearly 500 takeaways.
We mentioned earlier in the article that points aren’t all that matters when it comes to playing center, however, when you’re able to shut down other superstars in the league while scoring 100+ points four times in the last five years, and 84 points in the 56-game COVID-19 season, there’s little evidence to indicate you’re anything but a perennial superstar.
Anze Kopitar and J.T. Miller are sounder defensively and physically, but Leon Draisaitl is the second-best true center in the NHL today, and the only player getting in his way of being the top center in the show is his teammate.