Though the 2019-20 NHL season has been interrupted and to this point is still incomplete, these five players in particular helped create memories, moments and storylines that have made it a special one.
Every year there are players and stories that make the NHL season memorable. From the usual suspects like the Sidney Crosby‘s and Alex Ovechkin‘s of the world, to the more unexpected triumphs like Cale Makar‘s emergence in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL is always rife with intrigue.
This season, fans have been blessed with a menagerie of big games, big moments and big personalities. While we patiently await the return of hockey, let’s take a look at the five players that have made this season memorable.
5. Leon Draisaitl does it on his own
Playing on a team with Connor McDavid can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, he’s the best player in the league and elevates everyone around him. If you’re a player that falls below the curve, simply sharing the same ice surface with this generational talent makes you better.
On the other hand, if you’re a great player in your own right, it can be difficult to distinguish yourself as elite. For a few seasons, this has been position in which Leon Draisaitl has found himself.
There’s no doubt that Draisaitl is an all-world talent. He has now recorded consecutive 100-point seasons and a 50-goal campaign under his belt.
However, Draisaitl’s emergence has coincided quite neatly with the arrival of Connor McDavid in Edmonton. In his first season with McDavid in 2016-17, Draisaitl saw his point production grow exponentially. After recording just nine points two years prior during his rookie campaign, Draisaitl put up 77 points after skating alongside McDavid.
It’s silly to punish a player for skating with another talented forward. But fair or not, many have questioned just how good Draisaitl is.
It’s safe to say that Draisaitl quieted the naysayers during the 2019-20 season.
Draisaitl has amassed 110 points through 71 games this season, shattering last year’s total in 11 fewer games and leading the league by a wide margin. Not only that, but Draisaitl has established himself as one of the game’s premier playmakers, assisting on 67 goals this season — a dozen more than his previous career high.
While Draisaitl has played with McDavid at times this season, he has arguably been at his best when separated from No. 97.
When McDavid went down with an injury against the Nashville Predators, Draisaitl was tasked with keeping the Oilers afloat. The German forward answered the bell and recorded 12 points in six games, and combined for 29 points with linemates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto. Upon McDavid’s return, head coach Dave Tippett kept the duo separated, a huge endorsement for Draisaitl.
Though he’s not quite on the level of his teammate, watching Draisaitl impose his dominance on the league and prove that he’s just as talented as any player has been fun to watch.