Oilers’ McDavid on Pace for NHL’s Most Points in Over 25 Years

It’s one thing for an NHL player to be on a record pace over a few games, or even a month. But when that high level of production is maintained for a significant portion of the season, then you can start talking seriously about reaching new milestones.

The Edmonton Oilers will pass the one-third mark of their 82-game schedule on Friday (Dec. 9), playing for the 28th time in the 2022-23 season when they host the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Place, and superstar centre Connor McDavid’s statistics are projecting to make all kinds of history.

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

Following NHL action on Thursday (Dec. 8), McDavid leads the league in goals, assists and points, having scored 24 times and racking up 28 helpers through 27 games. After putting up the highest scoring numbers of his career in each of the last two seasons, he is averaging more points per game than in 2020-21 and is on pace to accumulate more points than in 2021-22.

Not only is the 25-year-old producing at a level new to him, but McDavid is also stuffing the stat sheet unlike any NHL player has in the last quarter century. Here’s a look at a few of the most remarkable benchmarks he would achieve in 2022-23 if he can keep it up for another four months.

McDavid’s Points Potential

Already it seems an almost sure thing that McDavid is going to establish a new personal best in points: he needs 72 over the season’s remaining 54 games to surpass his career-high total of 123 in 2021-22. That itself would be special: not since Wayne Gretzky in 1986-87 and 1987-88 has an Oilers player topped 120 points in consecutive seasons. McDavid, however, is on pace to do something even more spectacular.

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At his current average of 1.93 points per game, McDavid is on pace to record 158 points over 82 games, which would be the 13th-highest single-season total in NHL history, and the most by any player not named Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.

McDavid would also be the first player with a 150-point season since Lemieux tallied 161 in 1995-96. Bernie Nicholls, Gretzky, Lemieux, Phil Esposito and Steve Yzerman are the only players to reach the benchmark of 150 points in a season.

Lofty Goal for McDavid’s Goals

Over his first six years in the NHL, the most goals McDavid has scored is 44, which he did last season. He’s already within 20 of equaling that total, and at his current rate of 0.89 goals per game would set a new career high by game No. 50.

If McDavid keeps scoring eight times every nine games, he’s going to finish 2022-23 with more than 70 goals, a feat last achieved 30 years ago when Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne each potted 76 goals in 1992-93, becoming just the seventh and eighth members of the 70-goal club (Esposito, Gretzky, Brett Hull, Jari Kurri, Lemieux, and Nicholls being the others). McDavid would be No. 9 – or perhaps No. 10: Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson has 23 goals in his first 27 games, and could flirt with 70 goals if the 23-year-old Californian keeps up his torrid pace.

McDavid Goes for 4 Again

In Edmonton’s 8-2 steamrolling of the road-weary Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place on Wednesday (Dec. 7), McDavid scored twice and added two assists, already the sixth time in 2022-23 that he has totalled four points in one game. For context, from 2012-13 to 2018-19, the most games of four or more points that all Oilers players combined for during the entire season was five.

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McDavid recorded four or more points in a career-high seven games in 2021-22, the most by an Edmonton player in a single season since 1987-88, when Gretzky had his ninth consecutive campaign with at least nine four-point games. At this rate, he would finish the season with a whopping 18 four-point games, tying Gretzky for the sixth most in NHL history. Lemieux holds the league record, with 26 in 1988-89, while Gretzky has the Oilers’ franchise record, with 23 in 1981-82.

McDavid Plays with Power

A big reason McDavid is recording four-point games with ultra-irregular semi-regularity is his brilliance on the power-play: he has at least two power-play points in five of his six contests with four points, and has registered at least one point on the man advantage in all of them. Overall, he leads the league this season with 25 power-play points, five more than the next closest player, teammate Leon Draisaitl. He is first with 16 power-play assists, and tied for second with nine goals, trailing only Draisaitl.

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

McDavid needs only 33 power-play points in the Oilers’ remaining 55 outings to set a new franchise record, surpassing the 57 Gretzky had in 1981-82. The NHL record is 80, established by Lemieux with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1987-88. McDavid’s per-game average of 0.93 power-play points through 27 games projects to 76 in 82 games, which would be fourth most in league history.

The NHL record for power-play goals in a season is 31 (Lemieux, twice, in 1988-89 and 1995-96) and the league record for power-play helpers is 58 (once again Lemieux, 58 in 1987-88). McDavid is on pace to pot 27 goals and dish out 49 assists while playing with the man advantage.

If McDavid is going to reach any, let alone one of these milestones, he can afford very few off nights between now and the Oilers’ regular-season finale on April 13, 2023, at home against the San Jose Sharks. There is ample reason that No. 97 can keep it up. Going back to the beginning of the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, he has totalled 280 points in 163 games, virtually the equivalent of two full seasons. That’s no small sample size, that’s an established pattern.

Next up for McDavid and his teammates is the Minnesota Wild, one team that has managed to make him look closer to human more often than not: the four-time Art Ross Trophy winner has 19 points in 18 career games against Minnesota, but had a goal and assist in their first meeting this season, just over a week ago in St. Paul on Dec. 1.

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