You’ve seen it play out hundreds of times over the course of Leon Draisaitl’s 422 NHL games. He gets the puck down low. He waits. An opponent comes to him. Then Draisaitl goes to work.
“I like when I can engage with defenders and hold them off that way and maybe try to find an open guy,” said Draisaitl, who on Tuesday was named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award. That goes to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted on by the NHL Players’ Association.
Draisaitl topped the NHL’s regular season scoring list this year with 110 points. His power-forward style drew a lofty comparison from his head coach.
“He helps players around him that he’s playing with.”
One of those players is Kailer Yamamoto. He was called up from the minors mid-season and wound up with 26 points in 27 games, primarily playing on a line with Draisailt and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
“He’s meant a lot. He’s helped me since Day 1, since I was an 18-year-old. He talks to me on the ice, off the ice,” explained Yamamoto. “Just picking up little things that he does, a play he sees that I don’t. He means a lot to my career and hopefully I can keep playing with him.”
“We just complement each other very well,” Draisaitl said. “We started clicking very well early on. That made our team a lot more dangerous in a way that we can balance our scoring out a little more.
“[Yamamoto has] no fear. He’s a smaller guy, but he doesn’t necessarily play to that size.”
“Anything, he’s doing on the ice, he’s going 110 per cent. That’s one thing I learned from him,” Yamamoto said of Draisaitl.
“I try to look at his shot, but he might be the only person who can do that shot. I try to take away from his passing. He’s one of the best passers in the league. Definitely his body position around the puck.”
So far at camp, Andreas Athanasiou has been on Draisaitl’s left wing. Nugent-Hopkins has been moved to play with Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian.
Defenceman Caleb Jones once again didn’t practise with the main group on Tuesday. He was on the ice with a smaller group of players after the main practice.
The Oilers will play the Calgary Flames in an exhibition game on Tuesday, July 28 at Rogers Place. The game will start at 8:30 p.m. and can be heard on 630 CHED.
Watch below: Some recent Global News videos about the Edmonton Oilers.