Oilers’ Connor McDavid Can & Will Score 60 Goals This Season

It should be a matter of time before Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid breaks the 50-goal mark. Considering he’s the best player in the world and has a career average of 1.44 points per game, he can score goals with ease. He may typically pass first, but he has started to alter his game.

On the 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed his goal-scoring ability and brought up some good points, backed up by McDavid’s teammate, Leon Draisaitl. Friedman stated, “Draisaitl knows McDavid is going to do it and that McDavid agrees.” Draisaitl is already an elite passer and one of the best in the NHL. Has no problem being the playmaker as he did so in last season’s playoffs and has hit 50 assists in four consecutive seasons. McDavid has already unselfishly helped Draisaitl to two 50-goal seasons in their careers, so you can expect Draisaitl to return the favour.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Friedman also said, “if it is true that McDavid is going to be a goal-scorer this year, he’s going to be unstoppable, even more than he already is.” He has the skating ability and skill to create space, get open, and get into scoring position all the time, which will give him ample opportunities to score this season. Marek added, “he may win the Rocket Richard if he decides he’s a goal-scorer. Connor McDavid, if he wants it, can probably score 60 goals.” Scoring the most goals in the league might not mean as much to McDavid as winning games, but it will help the team do just that.

McDavid Altering Game Like Elite Passers Before Him

Friedman continued, “I remember talking to Sidney Crosby and Jason Spezza and how they were both told they were too easy to defend because people know they’re going to pass first … Defences can cheat because they know he’s going to pass first.” Both Crosby and Spezza realized that and changed their game, and I expect McDavid to do the same.

It’s harder to pinpoint when Spezza made the change, but Crosby changed his approach when he went from 33 goals in 2008-09 to 51 in 2009-10. He also added 32 goals the following season in 41 games. He started to shoot more, and since the defence would likely anticipate a pass, Crosby had a better lane to score. Spezza ramped up his shots in years five and six and the goals followed. Less predictable is good and every player in the NHL has great shooting ability. The elite players even more so.

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In no way was Friedman saying McDavid is too easy to defend. “I think he’s going to do it to become a more dangerous player,” said Friedman. McDavid has already shown flashes of his ability to score goals in his career. He has 12 career hat tricks, two of them coming on opening night games, as well as 243 goals in 489 games.

In seven seasons in the NHL, McDavid has put together six 30-goal seasons and three 40-goal seasons. He reached as high as 44 last season, but because he is a pass-first player, his focus was on setting up his teammates and reaching the 70-assist mark in a season for the fourth time. He has also raised his shots per game each season for the past four, indicating he’s trying to score more. In 2018-19, McDavid hardly recorded over three shots per game. Last season, he nearly reached four shots per game and recorded over 300 shots for the first time in his career, which ranked among the league leaders.

If McDavid has indeed changed his game to shoot more and attack the net himself, it’s showing early with four goals in two games.

McDavid has the Players & Team Around Him to Accomplish This Feat

McDavid is only 25 years old and he’s only getting better as he enters his prime. This means more goals, points, and overall better play from the best in the world. He isn’t mostly trying to score goals on his own as he’s had to do in the past. For many seasons, he’s had very few options that can help him score. Now he has a lot of help.

Leon Draisaitl Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Throughout McDavid’s tenure in the NHL with the Oilers, there has been one constant, Draisaitl. He’s recorded 53-plus assists in each of the past four seasons. McDavid and Draisaitl are the go-to duo when the Oilers need a goal. They typically start every overtime together where they dominate and regularly end the game. They play on separate lines normally, but oftentimes the coach will put them together, especially when double-shifting them. As two of the best players in the world, pucks go in the net when they are on the ice together at even strength and while up a man.

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The supporting cast is also far better than what the Oilers have had in many years and the best since McDavid has been on the team with Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, Ryan McLeod, and Dylan Holloway (from ‘Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche both acquired star power via the draft, but built supporting casts differently,’ Edmonton Journal, May 30, 2022).

Kane has already shown a very unselfish play this season by helping McDavid finish off his first game hat trick instead of scoring on the empty net himself. The team is very quick and can keep up with McDavid better than previous groups (from “Edmonton Oilers 2022-23 season preview: Playoff chances, projected points, roster rankings”, The Athletic, Sept. 30, 2022). Not to mention the puck-moving defencemen the Oilers have in Evan Bouchard and Tyson Barrie.

McDavid has been on a scoring tear for the past few seasons, especially and throughout the 2021-22 playoffs. There doesn’t seem like a limit to his abilities. He will not only hit 50 goals this season and could very possibly lead the Oilers in goals, but he could also hit 60 and challenge for the Rocket Richard.

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