If there was ever a question before, it’s fairly undeniable now: Connor McDavid is the face of and best player in the NHL.
While not yet 21 years old and not yet able to truly enjoy the fun that Las Vegas has to offer, it was a good night for McDavid who walked away with two major awards and the cover of the new EA Sports NHL 18 video game. Not even some second-guessing that Sidney Crosby may have earned some votes out of sheer respect could derail the young Oilers’ captain’s momentum. McDavid ran the board with a clean sweep, winning the Art Ross Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Hart Trophy.
McDavid: The Most Valuable Player
The Hart Trophy is awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player and with a 100-point season, it’s difficult to dispute what McDavid achieved.
At 20 years old, McDavid is the youngest Hart Trophy winner since 2007 when fellow nominee Sidney Crosby took home the trophy at the young age of 19. Former Oiler Wayne Gretzky also won it at 19 years old and gladly handed the award over to McDavid after being wowed for an entire season by what the phenom could do. There may be no bigger fan of “The Next One” than “The Great One” and seeing the two up on stage together in that moment was enough to give any Oilers fan goosebumps.
McDavid’s speech was simple and effective and it spoke loudly as to why the Edmonton Oilers made the right choice in placing the responsibility of captain upon him. In no wasted breath, he said, “I’m so proud to play in Edmonton, so proud to be an Oiler, and so proud to play with the guys.”
Why He Won
McDavid was the only player to reach the 100-point marker. That alone probably won him the award. But, to consider that his work was the primary driving force behind the Oilers return to the playoffs and the fact that he had more multi-point games than anyone else, was a highlight reel every night and changed the course of a game perhaps like no one else, made him a shoe-in.
Unlike the yesteryears of the Oilers glory days, scoring in the NHL is not what it once was. As Mark Spector noted, compared to seasons where Gretzky was the man and his teams boasted 400-goal campaigns, the Oilers scored 243 goals this past season. Amazingly, his 100 points put McDavid in on a mind-blowing 41.2 per cent of Edmonton’s offense.
He won the Hart Trophy by over 500 votes with Crosby second and Bobrovsky third.
McDavid: Best Among His Peers
The Ted Lindsay Award is awarded to the player voted most outstanding player as judged by the members of the NHL Players Association. It wouldn’t have come as a surprise if Crosby took home this award. After all, he’s been crushing his NHL opposition for a decade and that kind of dominance always earns consideration.
Instead, the players recognized McDavid’s dominance and showed their appreciation. Perhaps what swayed a few voters is not just how good McDavid is today, but what he might become. The writing may be on the wall and that display of talent against the best of the best earns the respect of your peers.
NHL 18 Cover
— NHL (@NHL) June 22, 2017
If winning every award he was nominated for wasn’t enough, McDavid being revealed as the cover of the new EA Sports NHL 18 game was a nice, likely kid-in-a-candy-store type addition. With the way today’s hockey players play these games, you can almost argue this is as big a deal for a 20-year-old who likely grew up playing EA Sports NHL as any award.
That millions of people will pull out NHL 18 and see this cover on a daily basis, a game with his face on it is no small thing. To grace the cover must feel like a surreal moment.
Congratulations go out to the new face of the NHL. He deserved each and every award and a night like this just made negotiating his next contract even easier than it probably already was.
Thank goodness he acknowledged his teammates and that he’d trade every award for a Stanley Cup. Oilers fans are still hanging on to a thread of hope that he’s truly in it for the team and for playoff victories. If he is, perhaps he’ll make placing other super-talented players around him an easy task for an award-nominated general manager in Peter Chiarelli. He certainly doesn’t have to.