Five. That’s the number of players in National Hockey League history that have scored 150 points in a season. Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bernie Nichols, Steve Yzerman are the only men to achieve that feat, doing so a combined 16 times.
Two. That’s the number of players on the 2021-22 Edmonton Oilers who could join the 150 club: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are off to such an explosive start that fans wonder if there is such a thing as too high when predicting their point totals this season.
Edmonton’s season is only five games old, but McDavid already has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) and Draisaitl has 11 (four goals, seven assists). Their respective averages of 2.6 and 2.2 points per game project to 213 and 180 points over the full 82-game schedule.
Granted, McDavid and Draisaitl won’t continue producing at such an astronomical rate. Or will they? It wasn’t that much more than a handful of games into the shortened 2020-21 season when the chatter started about Connor McDavid scoring 100 points. At the time, it seemed highly far-fetched, even for a generational talent the likes of McDavid.
It turns out McDavid was being underestimated: he ended the season with 105 points, 21 more than the second-leading scorer in the NHL. That player in the runner-up position? None other than Draisaitl, of course.
So, really, nothing is impossible when it comes to Edmonton’s dynamic duo. And when it comes to the 150-point season, here’s how it is possible.
McDavid & Draisaitl Scoring at a 150-Point Pace
The sample size from this season is far too small to make any well-founded predictions. But if the first five games of 2021-22 are combined with the 56 games from 2020-21, McDavid has 118 in 61 games, an average of 1.93, which projects to 159 points over 82 games.
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Draisaitl has 95 points in that same span, for an average of 1.56, which projects to 128 points in 82 games. But the German center, who led the NHL with 110 points in 71 games two seasons ago, has shown an ability to produce at a McDavid-like rate for stretches (averaging two points per game over the first and final month of last season, January and May).
McDavid & Draisaitl Need to Stay Durable
The fewer games he plays, the fewer points a player will score, and in the pursuit of 150 points, even missing three or four games in an 82-game season could be the difference. Of the 16 times a player has scored 150 points in a season, 11 missed two games or less, and only Mario Lemieux missed more than six games and was still able to reach the century-and-a-half milestone.
McDavid and Draisaitl have both proven they can stand the wear and tear of the season-long grind. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Draisaitl has missed only four games, all in 2018-19, and McDavid has missed just 11 games, two of which were for a suspension.
Oilers’ Potent Power Play Will Help
No NHL player has hit the 150-mark without recording at least 44 points on the power play. In Oilers history, there have been only 11 instances of a player racking up 44 or more power-play points in a season; Gretzky did it eight times, while Draisaitl, Mark Messier and Doug Weight all did so once.
Draisaitl and McDavid are poised to pile up the points with opponents in the penalty box, as this current edition of the Oilers power play has the makings of the best in franchise history. No less an authority than Gretzky himself said during an interview on Sportsnet last week that “I don’t know if our power play even compares to how good their power play really is.”
Related link: Gretzky Says Oilers Power Play Better Than in His Era
As of games completed Tuesday (October 26), Edmonton ranks first in the NHL for power-play percentage (47.1) and power-play goals (8). McDavid has notched seven power-play points and Draisaitl has four.
McDavid & Draisaitl Make Each Other Better
Put McDavid and Draisaitl together, and if one is not doing the goal-scoring, he’s probably assisting on the other’s goal. The two are long-time collaborators on the power play and in overtime at three-on-three, and in the early stages of this season, Oilers head coach Dave Tippet showed a greater inclination to feature McDavid and Draisaitl on the same line. The wisdom of said move has been questioned, but there’s no denying that McDavid’s and Draisaitl’s stats will only increase the more they play together.
Notably, more than half of the times a player has scored 150 points in an NHL season, they have had at least one teammate score 115 or more points, but there has only been one instance of two teammates scoring 150 points: Gretzky and Nichols on the 1988-89 Los Angeles Kings.
While Draisaitl is admittedly a longshot to notch 150 points this season, McDavid seems destined to reach the milestone for the first of what could be multiple times in his career. The Oilers captain has 137 points to go and 77 games to get them, starting with Edmonton’s next outing, Wednesday night at home when the Oilers host the Philadelphia Flyers.