LC – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) – 6’01” 209
With pro size and tremendous strength, Draisaitl play brings a consistent effort and his compete level is solid every night. Leon can dazzle you with his hands, crisp passes or his serious determination to make a difference in the defensive zone – Leon is a rare player that can impact the game in multiple ways. He possesses an excellent set of hands and is always a threat offensively. He tends to be more of a playmaker than a prolific goal scorer as he is able to make dazzling sauce passes through traffic. That being said, he does have a plus shot and soft hands in tight when given a path to the net.
His powerful skill set derives from his proven hockey sense and his excellent ability to make plays happen in all situations. Leon has this uncanny ability to recognize the play unfolding and reads and reacts before his opposition knew what hit them. Around the net Leon has tremendous hands combined with his quick release which caused havoc all year for goaltenders. He will use his power to drive the net and bang home a garbage goal or fend off a defender using his powerful size to control and protect the puck then unleash a quick snapper in the back of the net. His first few strides are sub-par, but when the train gets moving look out, there is no one in this year’s draft class who can use his size and strength to protect the puck like Leon does. The kid is a horse and defenders struggled to knock him off the puck all year. Leon has proven night in, night out, that he can be a consistent offensive contributor and possesses and great opportunity to make the jump to the NHL next year.
He loves to slow the pace of the game and work his magic down low. His exceptional strength and reach make it difficult to take the puck from him. Draisaitl likes to bait players into thinking they can strip him of the puck so that he can force a player out of position before he makes a tape to tape pass while being checked. The problem with this is that Draisaitl has had so much success at the Major Junior level by slowing things down, using the walls and physically dominating opponents that he doesn’t often show the ability to switch gears and generate offense with speed. He’ll have a much harder time physically overmatching defenders if he can’t do it at a higher pace of play. Leon brings a unique blend of skill and power to his game both offensively and defensively. Draisaitl enjoys the offensive zone time, but is quite apt and comfortable when defending. The skating is a valid concern, but if he’s able to improve his pace, he could end up as the best player in the entire draft class.