Making history is nothing new for Connor McDavid. He’s been setting records and winning awards throughout his hockey career. He added to his growing list of achievements on Dec. 13, when he recorded his 300th career NHL point (and later his 301st point) with the Edmonton Oilers in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
The phenom from Newmarket, Ontario became the ninth-youngest player in NHL history to score 300 points at 21 years and 334 days old. If not for a broken clavicle in 2015-16 that cost him 37 games of his rookie campaign, he likely would have reached the milestone late last season.
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Sid Seixeiro, co-host of Tim and Sid on Sportsnet, predicted that McDavid will finish fifth all-time in NHL scoring on the Dec. 14 edition of the show:
“You pull statistics from anywhere, but that’s pretty cool to me,” said Seixeiro. “He’s 21 and already has 300 points. So, you do the math, 100 points a year for the next 10 years gives him 1,300 points by the time he’s 32-year-old. Give him another five years after that and mark my words, I guarantee Connor McDavid will finish fifth all-time in points in the National Hockey League ahead of Ron Francis and just behind Gordie Howe.”
McDavid Is on the Rise
As great as McDavid already is, his most productive seasons are still ahead of him. Offensive stars typically hit their peak between age 24 and 27, so McDavid is likely several years away from his high water mark. His points-per-game average has been on a steady climb since he arrived in the NHL at 18 and will continue to rise throughout his prime. McDavid has gone from scoring 1.07 points-per-game as a rookie in 2015-16 to 1.22 in 2016-17, to 1.32 last season.
He’s averaging 1.44 points-per-game through 34 games this season, which puts him on pace for a career-high 116 points. No one has scored 120 points in a single season since Sidney Crosby in 2006-07, but McDavid has a legitimate chance to end that drought this season. Really, 120 points might be the baseline for his offensive output during his prime scoring years. McDavid has the potential to score 130 or more points at the height of his powers.
Only 23 players in NHL history have scored 130 or more points in a single season with the most recent occurrence in 1995-96 (a year before McDavid was born) when Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr had 161 and 149 points repetitively. If McDavid is going to score 130 points, he will need help.
Ideally, the Oilers would like to have Leon Draisaitl driving his own line for the next decade. So, finding McDavid a couple of wingers with the hockey IQ and scoring ability to consistently finish his perfect passes is crucial to helping him reach his full potential, and more importantly, help the Oilers contend for the Stanley Cup.
Now to the bigger question: Will McDavid pass Ron Francis for fifth all-time in NHL scoring? Francis retired from the NHL in 2004 with 1,798 points. Although Francis only hit 100 points three times (McDavid will likely match that feat in just his fourth season), he was a consistent offensive player for the majority of his 23 NHL seasons and stayed relatively healthy. As I mentioned, McDavid could be a regular 120-point scorer for the next 7 to 10 seasons.
Seixeiro predicted McDavid would have 1,300 points by the time he’s 32. I think the actual number will be around 1,400 points. It’s far more difficult, however, to predict how he will perform after age 32. Even if he starts to decline at that age (as most players do), McDavid might still be a point-per-game player into this late 30s. Each of the top five all-time scorers produced very well from their 32-year-old seasons until their retirement.
Wayne Gretzky – 129 goals and 529 points in 443 games (98 points per 82 games)
Jaromir Jagr – 229 goals and 612 points in 706 games (71 points per 82 games)
Mark Messier – 242 goals and 655 points in 751 games (72 points per 82 games)
Gordie Howe – 335 goals and 873 points in 851 games (84 points per 82 games)
Ron Francis – 200 goals and 660 points in 723 games (75 points per 82 games)
For McDavid to one day be in the same company as the legends listed above he will need to put up at least 500 points after turning 32. A daunting task for most players, but not for a player of McDavid’s ilk. If he plays 20 seasons, there’s no reason why he can’t pass Francis. It’s still very early, but I think McDavid will be able to score 80 or more points into the twilight of his career and eventually pass Francis, if not the next three names ahead of him before he hangs up his skates.
Eric Friesen is a freelance sports broadcaster and journalist in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Eric has diplomas in Broadcasting from Mount Royal University in Calgary and Sports Journalism from Centennial College in Toronto. A lifelong hockey fan, Eric has followed the Edmonton Oilers for more than 20 years. He cheers for the Oilers because of his hockey hero Wayne Gretzky, who played his more productive seasons in Oil Country.