Edmonton, Alberta — You can sense the respect in the way Moritz Seider talks about his fellow German, Edmonton star forward Leon Draisaitl.
Seider, being all of age 20, pays Draisaitl the utmost compliment.
“He’s a really good dude,” Seider said.
When you talk Seider and Draisaitl, you have the core of a growing and developing German hockey program with elite level talent in the NHL.
Draisaitl, only 26, has already won a Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player) and Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer) in 2019-20, and with Connor McDavid, are the foundation of the Edmonton Oilers.
Seider met Draisaitl two years ago while Seider are preparing for his first men’s world championship tournament.
“We just created chemistry and began texting here and there,” Seider said. “He was reaching out after the (Entry) draft and stuff like that. Just really cool.
“He’s a tremendous player. You can say he’s very impressive to watch, and I look up to him for sure.”
The sport of hockey still ranks behind soccer in Germany in popularity and passion, but the chasm is beginning to get smaller.
A player like Draisaitl, said Seider, ranks pretty high in popularity among German sports fans.
“He’s a superstar, as he should be,” Seider said. “If you think of hockey, his name should pop up for sure, and he deserves that.”
Draisaitl ranks third in the NHL with 81 points, behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (83) and Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau (both with 83). Draisaitl’s 39 goals ranks second to Auston Matthews (Toronto), who has 45.
Wings coach Jeff Blashill watched Draisaitl for three world championships while Blashill coached Team USA and saw Draisaitl progress.
“From the first one to the last one, just watching him grow as a player, just the other night, when he got the puck in his own end and took off, I didn’t know he had that kind of speed four or five years ago,” Blashill said. “He’s worked at it, and he broke away from (Tampa Bay star defenseman Victor) Hedman, and that says a lot.
“He’s a great player, a great, great player, one of the very best in the league. He’s an elite passer. Him and Huberdeau would be two of the best passers in the league. He’s strong on the puck, and a hard athlete to match up against, like Connor, because they just have such physical tools that they present issues.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Leon.”
Germany named Draisaitl, Seider and Seattle goalie Phillip Grubauer as provisional players leading up to the 2022 Olympics, which became a moot point when the NHL didn’t send its players due to COVID-19 concerns and cancellation of NHL games.
Draisaitl, Seider, Grubauer, Tim Stuetzle (Ottawa) and J.J. Peterka (Buffalo) form the nucleus of a young and talented German roster going into the future with many other elite draft-eligible prospects on the way
“There are so many good guys out there overall, German hockey is going very, very forward in the last couple of years,” Seider said. “We’re doing a helluva job.”
The Wings are winless in five straight games and have won twice in the last 10 games, confidence is beginning to wane, and the regular season is slowly beginning to dwindle.
But the Wings had a spirited practice, and Blashill is optimistic the Wings can carry that energy into Tuesday’s game.
“We practiced well, hard, and we had some energy,” Blashill said. “Guys worked and guys want to get better. We have 23 games left. We have to maximize every game and find ways to come out and make sure we’re maximizing that effort.”
The disappointment of not being able to stay closer in the playoff hunt, and remaining in the chase, said Seider, has been difficult to take.
“Everyone has high expectations for ourselves,” Seider said. “That’s one big goal, of making the playoffs and we’re not getting closer.”
Seider, personally, said his adjustment to the daily grind of the NHL has been aided by the veterans’ in the room.
“It’s a lot easier having great guys around the locker room,” Seider said. “It’s a lot easier than I expected.”
Red Wings at Oilers
►Faceoff: 9 Tuesday, Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
►Outlook: The Oilers (32-23-4) are coming off consecutive victories over East heavyweights Washington and Tampa…The Oilers are clinging to one of the final Western Conference playoff spots….C Connor McDavid (83 points) and C Leon Draisaitl (81 points) form one of the best offensive duos in the NHL.