German NHL star Leon Draisatil gets past Latvia’s Andris Dzerins. Last year Germany beat the Latvians for a quarter-final spot at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice in Cologne. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
NHL boost for Olympic runner-up Germany
The German Ice Hockey Association confirmed that Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl will join the men’s national team that prepares for the World Championship.
Draisaitl is on his way to Berlin where the German national team is currently having its camp and will join the roster as of tomorrow. New York Islanders defenceman Dennis Seidenberg will also join the team but next week.
“We are looking forward to welcoming Leon already at this early stage. With his qualities he can lift any team to a higher level,” said national team coach Marco Sturm. Whether he will play already this week is open.
Draisaitl missed Germany’s biggest success in ice hockey during his lifetime when his teammates won silver two months ago at the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament in Korea and returns to a rejuvenated team as several veterans ended their national team career including Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc and Patrick Reimer. Thomas Greiss, Marcus Kink and Leo Pfoderl will also be missing due to injuries. Therefore Germany will count even more on Draisaitl to repeat reaching the quarter-finals like recently at the Olympics and at last year’s Worlds on home ice in Cologne.
“I have always said that I’ll immediately play for my country when there’s a possibility. To be on the national team is always something special. I’m especially proud to be now on the team of the Olympic silver medal winner,” said Draisaitl, who was the Edmonton Oilers’ second-best scorer behind Connor McDavid, who will also come to the Worlds and play for Canada.
With the playoffs coming to the final stage in Germany, more heroes from the silver-winning Olympic team such as Moritz Muller, Sinan Akdag, Yasin Ehliz and Matthias Plachta will join the roster soon. Another player returning from North America will be Markus Eisenschmid of the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
Germany will play in Herning, about 180 kilometres north of the Danish-German border, where it will need a top-four finish in its group against Canada, Finland, the United States, Norway, Latvia, host Denmark and Korea to reach the final round again.