In the playoffs, Leon Draisaitl was left out of the Oilers – but on the edge of the final series before the Stanley Cup, the Cologne man now has a leading role. He is the first German to receive the NHL’s most prestigious award.
Leon Draisaitl is officially the most valuable player in the main round of the NHL. The 24-year-old from Cologne received the Hart Memorial Trophy on Monday evening (local time) as MVP in the strongest ice hockey league in the world. The National Hockey League announced this along the sidelines of the final series of the Stanley Cup. Draisaitl is only the second professional athlete from Germany after former basketball player Dirk Nowitzki, to receive this honor in one of the great American sports competitions. Nowitzki was named “Most Valuable Player” by the NBA in the 2006/2007 season.
“I’m very honored. It’s a great honor,” said Draisaitl during the broadcast on NBCSN TV. He hopes the award will inspire children in Germany to play ice hockey.
Best Scorer: No German has ever done that in the US.
His colleagues in the NHL also chose Draisaitl as the outstanding player of the season. The Ted Lindsay Award is presented by the NHLPA players association and for the first time also went to an athlete from Germany. “It’s a special thing to get this recognition from the peers you play against all year round,” said Draisaitl. The MVP award is based on the votes of journalists.
In his personally most successful season, Draisaitl had already provided a novelty in the main round. With 110 goals and assists from 71 games in the corona-shortened main round, he was the top scorer – no athlete from Germany had ever managed to do this, either in the NHL or in any other major league in North American sport. Even basketball icon Dirk Nowitzki had never made it to the NBA, but in addition to the MVP title in 2007, he won the championship in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks.
Draisaitl still has a great desire
Despite his career milestone with the MVP award, this is exactly what Draisaitl is craving: winning the Stanley Cup in the NHL. “What is missing is a championship. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the most important thing,” said Draisaitl in an interview with the dpa news agency last winter.
At the moment he seems to be on the wrong team for this great cause. As spectacular as the Oilers’ offensive with Draisaitl and captain Connor McDavid is, the Canadian team has some defensive weaknesses. Surprisingly, Edmonton hadn’t even made it to the playoffs due to a 3-1-1 qualifying round against outsiders Chicago. In previous years, Draisaitl always had time in May to play for the NHL title at a World Cup for Germany instead of the Oilers.
Draisaitl has been stubbornly working on his great goal since childhood. Talent and ambition go hand in hand with the best German player. The son of former national player Peter Draisaitl joined the Prince Albert Raiders in the Canadian youth league at the age of 17. In 2014, he was selected for third place in the NHL draft – the annual talent allocation – and thus ahead of any German. Since then, the resident of Cologne and a fan of Bundesliga football club 1. FC Köln has continuously improved.