Draisaitl, Matthews, MacKinnon… McDavid

By JD Lagrange – Living in Canada, you almost have to be a hockey fan. While Lacrosse is, for some odd reasons, considered to be the National Sport, hockey is the passion. It’s what gets the motor ticking, the sport most followed in this beautiful and vast country. And with seven teams to choose from, you have fans everywhere. The issue? All major sports’ media outlets are located in… Toronto.

It’s the biggest market, the biggest population, the biggest advertising dollars and for those reasons, the Maple Leafs are the most talked about franchise on those networks. It certainly isn’t based on success as the Montreal Canadiens have won almost twice as many Stanley Cups. The Maple Leafs haven’t won the Cup since 1967 and haven’t even won a playoffs’ series in nearly two decades!

But with the Toronto bias, comes injustice and frustration across the nation. The other six teams get very little coverage, or the attention that they deserve. If a Leafs’ player is doing well, that’s all you hear about on those networks. Auston Matthews, last season, polarized their attention due to his 60 goals pace and eventually achievement. Yet, in Edmonton, Connor McDavid had a better season. This year, it was all about Mitch Marner and his points’ streak. But the Toronto bias is having its fair share of humble pie this season…

So on this time changing weekend, I felt compelled to set the clocks to the right time. Is Auston Matthews really in the same category as Connor McDavid as a player? Not just this season, but overall? I was under the impression that he’s not and I have set to show why… coming from someone OUTSIDE of Toronto.

I’ve chosen to compare Matthews to two other centers that are closer to his skills’ set. Just to appease the Toronto fanatics, I’ve also included McDavid’s comparables below those tables. Have a look for yourself.


DRAFT3rd overall 20141st overall 20131st overall 2016
PP TOI/GP4:024:043:39
SH TOI/GP0:420:070:03
FO WON613413429
FO %53.7%45.5%52.9%
CAP HIT$8.5M$6.3M$11.64M



So when considering all aspects, the rankings, this season, are:

  1. Connor McDavid
  2. Leon Draisaitl
  3. Nathan MacKinnon
  4. Auston Matthews


Predictable as always, you know that Leafs’ fans will claim as an excuse that their boy is not having a good season and the comparison isn’t fair. So in all fairness, let’s include last year too. In fact, to get an even clearer picture, why don’t we include the year before too?

PP TOI/GP4:013:563:19
SH TOI/GP0:460:040:05
FO WON2,0721,0341,570
FO %54.1%46.1%54.0%



The past three seasons combined, Connor McDavid has scored one more goal than Auston Matthews. Granted, he has managed to better survive the grind of a NHL season, having played more games. For the fact that he’s been healthier and outscored the Toronto protege is an eye opener. Points-wise? It’s not even close.

The rankings for the past three seasons are as follows:

  1. Connor McDavid
  2. Leon Draisaitl
  3. Nathan MacKinnon & Auston Matthews (tie)


Many players are catalogued with their playoffs’ performances, in addition to their regular season. Nathan MacKinnon is the only one of those players with a Stanley Cup but let’s look at their personal contribution to the success of their team, career-wise.

PP TOI/GP3:573:593:18
SH TOI/GP0:370:030:02
FO WON323415335
FO %48.9%46.0%53.3%



The playoffs’ rankings are:

  1. Leon Draisaitl
  2. Connor McDavid
  3. Nathan MacKinnon
  4. Auston Matthews


It is clear, reading comments on social media, that few Eastern fans follow the Western Conference teams closely. For example, I don’t know how often I’ve read Leafs’ fans claiming that Matthews is a 200-foot player while downplaying McDavid’s defensive game. It cannot be further from the truth. This season, McDavid is used regularly on the penalty kill even, something Matthews, Draisaitl and MacKinnon don’t do.

I felt that last year’s votes for the Hart and Lindsay Awards were an insult to McDavid, who was (and still is) the best player in the world. I get it, just like in the times of Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby’s prime seasons, some people (players included) get tired of always praising the same guy over and over again. So they try to be “different” and “imaginative”, and try changing things up. Last season, too many were mesmerized by the 60 goals, in my opinion. Matthews was the best goals’ scorer. He was not the best player.

In fact, Matthews has never been the very best player in the NHL and he doesn’t have what it takes to ever be. This is McDavid’s league and guys like Draisaitl, MacKinnon and yes, Matthews, are all a notch below the Oilers’ number 97. Let’s see what the upcoming Connor (Bedard) can do one day…

What Have They Done?

By JD Lagrange – It’s been a record-breaking year for this trade deadline when it comes to the number of trades. Not because of trade deadline day itself, but most big trades have happened int he 14-days window leading up to the deadline.

I don’t know about you but when there is that much player-movement, I find difficult to keep track of who is where. Even more difficult is to attempt judging which teams have improved the most, as all give up assets in order to get the new players. And that’s particularly true when every team is so tight against the salary cap.

Let’s have a look at what contenders (and pretenders) have done in an attempt to gain an edge for the upcoming NHL Playoffs. Those are teams that are either in a playoffs’ position or are still within reach for a playoffs’ spot.


Pittsburgh Penguins
Mikael GranlundTeddy Blueger
Peter DiliberatoreBrock McGinn
Nick Bonino2023 2nd (PIT)
Dmitry Kulikov2023 5th (PIT)
2024 3rd (VEG)2023 7th (PIT – Cond)
2024 3rd (PIT)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tanner JeannotVladislav Namestnikov
Michael EyssimontCal Foote
2023 3rd (TBL)
2023 4th (TBL)
2023 5th (TBL)
2024 2nd (TBL)
2025 1st (TBL – Cond)
Ottawa Senators
Jakob ChychrunNikita Zaitsev
Julien GauthierTyler Motte
Patrick Brown2023 1st (OTT – Cond)
2023 7th (NYR – Cond)2023 2nd (OTT)
Future considerations (CHI)2023 6th (OTT)
2024 2nd (WAS – Cond)
2026 2nd (OTT)
2026 4th (OTT)
Carolina Hurricanes
Shayne GostisbeherePatrik Puistola
Jesse Puljujarvi2026 3rd (CAR)
New York Rangers
Vladimir TarasenkoVitali Kravtsov
Patrick KaneJulien Gauthier
Tyler MotteSamuel Blais
Cooper ZechAndy Wellinski
William LockwoodAustin Rueschhoff
Niko MikkolaHunter Skinner
2026 7th (VAN)2023 1st (NYR – Cond)
Future Consid. (NAS)2023 2nd (NYR – Cond)
2023 7th (NYR)
2024 4th (NYR – Cond)
2025 3rd (NYR – Cond)
2025 4th (NYR)
Washington Capitals
Craig SmithDmitry Orlov
Andrei SvetlakovLars Eller
2024 3rd (BOS)Garnet Hathaway
2025 2nd (BOS)
2025 2nd (COL)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ryan O’ReillyPierre Engvall
Noel AcciariRasmus Sandin
Luke SchennJoey Anderson
Erik GustafssonPavel Gogolev
Jake McCabeAdam Gaudette
Sam LaffertyMikhail Abramov
Josh Pillar2023 1st (TOR)
2023 1st (BOS)2023 3rd (TOR)
2024 3rd (NYI)2023 3rd (OTT)
2024 5th (CHI – Cond)2024 2nd (TOR)
2025 5th (CHI – Cond)2025 1st (TOR – Cond)
2025 4th (TOR)
2026 2nd (TOR)
New Jersey Devils
Timo MeierAndreas Johnsson
Scott HarringtonFabian Zetterlund
Zachary EmondNikita Okhotiuk
Santeri HatakkaShakir Mukhamadullin
Timur Ibragimov2023 1st (NJD – Cond)
Curtis Lazar2024 2nd (NJD Cond)
2024 5th (COL)2024 4th (NJD)
2024 7th (NJD)
Boston Bruins
Dmitry OrlovCraig Smith
Garnet Hathaway2023 1st (BOS)
Andrei Svetlakov2023 5th (BOS)
Tyler Bertuzzi2024 1st (BOS – Cond)
2024 3rd (BOS)
2025 2nd (BOS)
2025 4th (BOS)
New York Islanders
Bo HorvatAnthony Beauvillier
Aatu Raty
2023 1st (NYI – Cond)


Vegas Golden Knights
Teddy BluegerPeter Diliberatore
Ivan BarbashevZach Dean
Jonathan QuickMichael Hutchinson
2024 3rd (VEG)
2025 7th (VEG)
Colorado Avalanche
Lars EllerAndreas Englund
Jack Johnson2025 2nd (COL)
Los Angeles Kings
Joonas KorpisaloJonathan Quick
Vladislav GavrikovBrendan Lemieux
Zack MacEwen2023 1st (LAK – Cond)
2023 2nd (LAK)
2024 2nd (LAK)
2024 5th (LAK)
Minnesota Wild
Gustav NyquistAndrei Svetlakov
Marcus JohanssonJosh Pillar
Oskar SundqvistAndrej Sustr
John KlingbergNikita Nesterenko
2025 4th (TOR)2023 4th (DET)
2023 5th (BOS)
2024 3rd (MIN)
2025 4th (MIN)
Edmonton Oilers
Mattias EkholmTyson Barrie
Patrik PuistolaReid Shaefer
Nick BjugstadJesse Puljujarvi
2024 6th (NASMichael Kesselring
2023 1st (EDM)
2023 3rd (EDM)
2024 4th (EDM)
Dallas Stars
Evgenii DadonovDenis Gurianov
Max DomiAnton Khudobin
Dylan WellsJacob Peterson
Scott Reedy2025 2nd (DAL)
Winnipeg Jets
Nino Neiderreiter2024 2n (WIN)
Vladislav Namestnikov2025 4th (WIN)
Seattle Kraken
Jaycob Megna2023 4th (SEA – Cond)
Dryden HuntRadim Zohorna
Nick RitchieBrett Ritchie
Troy StecherConnor Mackey

The first thing to notice is that the Eastern Conference teams were a lot more agressive on the trade market this year. So many teams have loaded up yet, only one of them will make it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. That will make for several teams disappointed and having invested a lot… for nothing. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs may appear to have added a lot, but they have also given quite a bit. They have reinforced their bottom-six forward group and bottom pairing defensemen, with more experience. But aside from Ryan O’Reilly, not much will help bring grit to their top lines. Time will tell if adding Tarasenko and Kane will pay off for the Rangers…

I like what the Penguins have done and the Bruins will be a force to recon with. The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche were modest but added a couple of experienced elements, and they should have Gabriel Landeskog back on time for the playoffs. But I quite like what the Edmonton Oilers have done, bringing in Mattias Ekholm and Nick Bjugstad. 

Which team has improved the most in your opinion?