If he keeps it up, Leon Draisaitl will one day be among elite company.
And that company could include a former Edmonton Oilers great. The 21-year-old German playmaker has 16 points in his first 12 NHL playoff games, for a rate of 1.333 points per game.
The Oilers great in question, Wayne Gretzky, established the all-time marks for points in the playoffs with 382 and points per game at 1.837.
Now, it’s unlikely Draisaitl will ever reach those heights, however, in the age of tight-checking, systems-oriented hockey, a 1.333 points per game average is commendable. As well, Draisaitl has 13 points in six games against Anaheim, five short of Gretzky’s second best all-time mark for points in a series (18 in six games).
Most of the all-time great playoff scorers, points-per-game wise, played during the heyday of the 1980s and early 1990s when the trap was just something people caught wild animals in.
Since the salary cap, scoring in the playoffs has become even harder than at any other time.
Here are 10 players who have been the most efficient since the salary cap was introduced in 2005.
10. Jonathan Toews – 0.859 Points Per Game
Captain Serious is also a steely assassin when it comes to big games. The Chicago Blackhawks leader does his best work when the chips are down. Now, his Hawks have endured first round ousters two years in a row now and Toews has eight points in those 11 games, however, in the three playoff seasons Chicago won the Cup, he was ruthless. All games combined from 2010, 2013 and 2015 (68 games), Toews scored 20 goals and added 44 assists for 64 points. That’s a 0.941 points per game clip. In his best post-season, 2010, Toews scored seven goals (three of them game winners) and added 22 assists, claiming the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Hawks won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
9. Alex Ovechkin – 0.947 Points Per Game
For all the grief he takes about not having won a team trophy of any consequence — no Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold, World Cup of Hockey title, world junior title — OV is still a lethal playoff performer. In 95 games and counting, Ovechkin has 90 points (46 goals, 44 assists) in 95 games. His outstanding production and the Washington Capitals lack of success might say more about who the Russian sniper is surrounded with, rather than what he can do individually. We shudder to think what he could do, given four full rounds to score goals. In his most productive playoff year, 2009, Ovechkin scored 11 goals and 10 assists in 14 game as the Caps went to game 7 in two consecutive series. He’s scored goals in just about every manner possible from even strength (31), to powerplay (15) and game winners (6). So far this playoff season, Ovechkin has five goals and three assists in 11 games.
8. Henrik Zetterberg – 0.950 Points Per Game
It must be a bewildering spring for Detroit Red Wings veteran playmaker Henrik Zetterberg. For the first time in his 14-year career with Detroit, he wasn’t in the playoffs. As everyone knows, the Wings — and by extension Zetterberg — failed to make it to the post-season for the first time in a quarter century. And it really is a pity that hockey fans didn’t get to see him go to work again, as he’ll be 37 soon and nearing the end of his illustrious career. So, we tossed out his first two post-season twirls, where he scored five point in 16 games pre-lockout year and his post-salary cap adjusted playoff points per game got better, going from 0.876 PPG to 0.950 (115 points in 121 games). Zetterberg was at his level best during the 2008 Cup year, when he tied a young Sidney Crosby for the playoff points lead with 27 points. He had 13 goals and 14 assists that year and won the Conn Smythe for his efforts.
7. Patrick Kane – 0.969 Points Per Game
Not many in today’s NHL can take over a game quite like Patrick Kane. The Buffalo-born dipsy-doodler has a thousand and one moves, eyes in the back of his head and lightning quick release with his shot. Like his partner in crime Jonathan Toews, Kane saves his best efforts for the bump and grind of the post-season. To date, he has 123 points in 127 playoff games for a 0.969 average, not far off his regular season average of 1.016 (752 points in 740 games). Like Toews, too, Kane won a Conn Smythe for his 2013 playoff heroics, when he scored nine goals and 10 assists in 23 games, all his goals coming even strength and two turning out to be game winners. Among his 50 playoff goals, 41 were even strength, eight were on the powerplay, one was shorthanded and 11 have won games.
6. Claude Giroux – 0.984 Points Per Game
Giroux, unlike Alex Ovechkin, has been to a Stanley Cup final and it would also be interesting to see where he would be at if the Flyers actually made it more than a round or two otherwise with Giroux as their leader. As it is, Giroux has a sterling 62 points in 63 playoff games, including two shorthanded goals and two game winners. During the 2010 playoffs, the Hearst, Ontario native played in all 23 Flyers playoff games, finishing third on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 11 assists. His best overall output was in 2011-12, when Philadelphia went two rounds and he scored an amazing eight goals and nine assists in 10 games. He had three powerplay and two shorthanded goals (the only ones of his 63-game playoff career) among his eight markers.
5. Jason Spezza – 1.000 Points Per Game
We are putting Spezza fifth, even though he’s tied with Phil Kessel (spoiler alert) and Ryan Getzlaf (ditto). We did this because his actual post-season PPG is 0.942. However, we threw out his first six playoff games, pre-salary cap, where he had two points in six games. Thus, Spezza is a point-per-game guy, based on the 63 playoff contests after they NHL shut down for a year in 2004-05. Spezza got the ball rolling in 2006 with the Ottawa Senators when he scored 14 points in 10 playoff games, then upped the ante as the Sens went to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 2007. Spezza led Ottawa with seven goals and 15 assists in those 20 contests. Now with Dallas, Spezza had a pretty fine post-season in 2016, scoring 13 points (five goals) in 13 games for Big D, proving that he can still bring it.
4. Phil Kessel – 1.000 Points Per Game
Kessel, like Alex Ovechkin, has been excoriated in certain circles for being a little less than a team guy at times. However, we think he isn’t that much of a surprise guy in this list, as he’s always been money in the spring, from Boston to Toronto and now Pittsburgh. The Pens sharpshooter has 28 goals and 28 assists in 56 playoff games, including five goals (team best four on the powerplay) and eight assists in 10 games so far this spring for the defending champs. Before going on his superb run last spring with Pittsburgh, Kessel scored 13 goals and eight assists in 22 playoff games for Boston and Toronto, not bad output at all. After a trade to Pittsburgh, Kessel put his name in the Conn Smythe conversation last year, scoring 10 goals and 12 assists in 24 games, including a team high five powerplay markers.
3. Ryan Getzlaf – 1.000 Points Per Game
Getzlaf has played a lot of playoff hockey, post-lockout, to the tune of 114 games. He has been hell on Anaheim’s first two opponents this spring, scoring a league high eight goals and adding seven assists against Calgary (eliminated) and now Edmonton, heading to game 7 in the Conference semi-finals Wednesday night in Anaheim. Getzlaf has had his most productive playoffs after the Ducks won the Cup in 2007, when he had a modest 17 points in 21 games that year. In fact, he had 24 points in his first 37 playoff games leading up to the championship in ’07, and has had 90 in 77 contests since. He’ll be 32 on Wednesday, the day the Ducks and Oilers tangle in game 7 and judging by his production so far, he is due another multi-point effort, of which he has six already this spring.
2. Evgeni Malkin – 1.090 Points Per Game
Even without sidekick Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin is still a force on the ice, game in a game out. The talented Russian has, like his confrere and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, played a lot of meaningful hockey since 2007. Malkin has played in 134 post-season games to be exact and his clipping along with 146 points, or 1.090 per game. He is also currently leading all players with 17 points for the Pens this spring, with all four of his goals coming via the powerplay. When the Pens won the Cup in 2009, Malkin had Mario Lemieux-esque output, scoring 14 goals and 22 assists in 24 games to lead all scorers and take home the Conn Smythe Trophy. Malkin has scored 1.178 points per game in the regular season, making his 15th (all-time) production of 1.090 PPG in the playoffs even more noteworthy.
1. Sidney Crosby – 1.120 Points Per Game
Few players on this list, heck, few players in the history of hockey have had the knack for scoring big goals — or setting them up — in big games like Sid the Kid. The two-time Stanley Cup and two-time Olympic gold winner has an amazing 149 points in 133 playoff games, putting him 11th all-time in per game production and his overall points 28th. Those are remarkable numbers, given how much attention he has received over the years and still finding a way to score or make a pass for a goal. The Penguins superstar has always found a way and showed the hockey world he meant business by scoring 27 points in 20 playoff games in 2008, the year Pittsburgh fell short in the finals to Detroit. He followed that up with 31 points in 24 games a year a later as the Pens broke through. He won the Conn Smythe for rather modest production in 2016, scoring six goals and 13 assists in 24 contests. So far this year, he has 12 points in nine games.