While he may not yet be a member of the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid has already taken Oilers Nation by storm. Ever since this organization had the good fortune of winning the NHL Draft Lottery, it has become almost impossible to find a fan of the Orange and Blue who wants to focus on anything but the future when it comes to their beloved hockey team.
Despite another four-point effort from the soon-to-be first overall pick during Game Four of the Ontario Hockey League Final between the Erie Otters and Oshawa Generals on Wednesday night, the Otters dropped a 6-5 overtime decision and are now one defeat away from seeing their season end before reaching the 2015 Memorial Cup. With that said, McDavid has certainly delivered the goods in his junior hockey swan song.
After yesterday’s goal and three assist performance against the Generals, the absurdly talented youngster has now scored twenty-one times and “chipped in” with twenty-eight helpers in just nineteen post-season appearances. To put that into perspective, Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle currently sits second in playoff scoring with twenty-nine points in twenty games. In other words, the kid is on a completely different level and everyone knows it.
— Edmonton Journal (@edmontonjournal) April 21, 2015
As if expectations were not already going to be crazy enough, the moment Wayne Gretzky came out and said “he’s as good as I’ve seen in the last 30 years” was the very moment this thing went in an altogether different direction. While the common hockey fan generally uses Sidney Crosby as a potential comparable for the 2015 OHL Player of the Year, No. 99’s comments suggest the better comparison may very well be that other guy who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins all those years ago and wore the No. 66 on his back.
With all due respect to Mr. Crosby, as great a career as he has been able to put together, he is nowhere near the offensive machine that Mario Lemieux was during his seventeen years in the National Hockey League. There is no question today’s game is far more structured and played by far better athletes than it was three decades ago, but the numbers guys like Gretzky and Lemieux consistently produced throughout their careers speak for themselves.
The Best Since No. 66?
If McDavid proves to be as good as advertised and needs only a minimal amount of time to adjust to the pro game, would it really be so far-fetched to expect him to finish among the league’s leading scorers in his rookie season? While some might suggest that could be a bit of a stretch, let us not forget that Jamie Benn led the National Hockey League in scoring in 2014-15 with a grand total of 87 points.
Now there certainly is a difference between scoring at a 2.55 PPG clip in the OHL compared to putting up points on a nightly basis in what truly is an eighty-two game grind in the NHL but no one is suggesting he is going to produce at that same rate in the pros. However, to think McDavid will not be able to average somewhere in the neighbourhood of a point per game on a team that already features talented youngsters like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, seems extremely unlikely.
McDavid – Hall Combo Could Be Magic
Will he have to deal with his fair share of growing pains over the course of his rookie campaign? Most certainly but you can pretty much bank on him delivering a handful of memorable performances that will leave hockey fans across the league shaking their heads in disbelief and allow him to pad his stats in the process. At eighteen years of age, McDavid should not be expected to carry this team to the promise land but expecting him to put up some eye-popping totals in what has correctly been branded as a “3-2 league” by Los Angeles Kings bench boss Darryl Sutter, is more than reasonable.
After all, we are talking about a “generational talent” and those players tend to live up to their billing…especially when we are talking about the National Hockey League. This kid is going to be pretty darn special and in my mind, if he has the chance of playing alongside Taylor Hall and the two remain relatively healthy, there is absolutely no reason to think he cannot reach the eighty point plateau during his first kick at the can and to be perfectly honest…he might be able to do even more than that.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.