In what Connor McDavid has done in four and a half seasons, he is already being spoken about as a legend in the making. One thing that will always loom over his once-in-a-generation-talent is that Wayne Gretzky was also an Edmonton Oiler who just happened to win four Stanley Cups in his nine years wearing the same jersey (10 seasons if you include his WHA season).
To say that it is unlikely that McDavid will catch Gretzky’s four Stanley Cups in nine years would be putting it very politely. McDavid is in his fifth season which means if the Oilers don’t win this season, they would have to win four consecutive Cups. Team success aside, let’s see what the timeline would look like for McDavid to break into the top four all-time points for the Oilers.
Fourth Place: Glenn Anderson
Glenn Anderson sits comfortably at the No. 4 spot and over 845 games with the Oilers racked up 906 points. In McDavid’s 333 games, he has posted 442 points. Anderson’s points per game were 1.07 compared to McDavid’s 1.33. Assuming McDavid’s pace stays the same, he should catch Anderson in 681 games, which is eight seasons and about 25 games.
McDavid’s career thus far has been overall fairly healthy. His rookie season was rudely interrupted by a fractured clavicle, forcing him to miss 37 games, and in the most recent offseason, he had an injured PCL. This makes it probable that he stays healthy enough to catch Anderson before his eighth season because McDavid’s point per game production has gotten stronger every season. So my prediction: McDavid catches Anderson in March 2023.
Second and Third Place: Jari Kurri and Mark Messier
These guys are too close in points as Oilers to separate. Jari Kurri is in second place with 1,043 points in 754 games while Mark Messier has 1,034 points in 851 games. These are great numbers, but are also very reachable for McDavid.
According to McDavid’s aforementioned 1.33 pace, he should catch these guys in roughly 785 games or nine and a half seasons. To put this in an eyebrow-raising perspective, Shawn Horcoff played 796 games as an Oiler, and as of today, McDavid is five points behind Horcoff’s Oilers career total. Five points! You can’t rule out McDavid geting five points any given game, so watch out, Horcoff!
Based on data involving how hockey players grow throughout their career McDavid’s pace should increase. This nine and a half-season timeline will put him around 28 years old, which is actually the age that NHL forwards peak. Always the optimist, I’m going to predict that McDavid passes Kurri and Messier in Nov. 2024.
Top Spot: Wayne Gretzky
If McDavid’s journey to be the Oilers’ all-time point leader was a video game, this would be the boss fight. Gretzky’s 1,669 points as an Oiler alone would put him in ninth place for all time points between Mario Lemieux and Joe Sakic.
Peter Chiarelli is no longer the general manager, so the odds of McDavid being traded away from Edmonton are extremely slim. But still, Gretzky’s numbers are daunting. In those nine seasons, Gretzky had four seasons with 200 points or more.
It isn’t really fair to compare Gretzky’s era to modern hockey because in the 1980s goal totals were much higher than today. For example, the 1983-84 Oilers possess the record for scoring 446 goals in an 80 game season. As great as the Tampa Bay Lightning were last season, in comparison they only racked up 319 goals over 82 games.
To go back to the ratio of McDavid’s 1.33 pace, it would take him 1,254 games to catch Gretzky’s 1,669 Oiler point total. This is a grand total of 15 and one-third seasons. This is assuming he stays healthy and that the 1.33 pace is accurate. I believe that it is because his pace is expected to increase, but after McDavid’s peak at 28 years old, it is expected to decrease.
With this much time passing, it is the hardest to predict what hockey will look like in 10 years, but my prediction will be McDavid catches this total on Jan. 13, 2032. That’s right, on his 35th birthday. Hopefully, the Oilers have a game that day!
Watching McDavid score goals and win trophies will always be exciting. However, his individual accomplishments would pale in comparison to his lifting the Stanley Cup, especially since he is the captain. He is a team-first guy, so let’s hope that everything he gives up for his team leads to him winning that ultimate prize. And as a bonus, set the new golden standard as an Oiler.