Connor McDavid had one heck of a rookie season, and it’s one worth remembering.
As one of the most highly anticipated prospects to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby did so in 2005, McDavid enjoyed a tremendous first season in the League, one which certainly had both its ups and downs.
A broken clavicle suffered during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers in November put a damper on McDavid’s first months in the NHL, a period of time which had seen him score five goals and 12 points in 13 games before his injury.
However, once he returned, McDavid illustrated the elite skill and ability which made him the first overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Having missed 37 games due to injury, McDavid exploded following his return, scoring 11 goals and 36 points in just 32 games played. In all, McDavid wound up recording 48 points in his 45 games played as a rookie.
His 1.07 PPG mark ranked as the best of any rookie skater during the 2015-16 season, while it also placed third highest in the League amongst any player to play over 40 games, putting him alongside Jamie Benn and Patrick Kane, while besting the production of Sidney Crosby.
Projected to become one of the NHL’s greatest players, McDavid illustrated his incredible potential on the ice on numerous occasions as a rookie. While he is likely best defined as a playmaker, McDavid showed off his scoring touch in 2015-16, netting a number of jaw-dropping tallies throughout the year.
The top five goals from McDavid’s rookie season are listed below:
5. Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames – October 17th, 2015
A few weeks before suffering his freak injury, McDavid enjoyed the best game of his young career to date, recording three points, two of which goals, in a 5-2 win over the Oilers’ provincial rivals in Calgary.
After picking up the puck just over his own blue line, McDavid did it all own his own, driving to the net before releasing a quick wrist shot, perfectly placed to the far-side of the net and just over the right pad of Jonas Hiller. Despite playing in just his fifth career game, the amount of respect shown by the Flames’ defense is incredible, as they back off, likely anticipating a pass, yet are beaten by McDavid’s quick release, one of the most underrated aspects of his game.
4. Edmonton Oilers at Buffalo Sabres – March 1st, 2016
Speed is the name of the game for Connor McDavid, but it is his ability to use his incredible skills while moving at top speed which ultimately makes the youngster’s game so dangerous.
In what was a 2-1 overtime win for the Oilers, not only did McDavid score both goals, but his second of the game was an absolute beauty, as he sped past Sabres defender Rasmus Ristolainen before beating goaltender Robin Lehner with a deceptive backhand shot. In what was one of the first of many battles between McDavid and fellow 2015 first round pick Jack Eichel, McDavid got the better of his counterpart, who had nearly ended the game seconds earlier.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs vs Edmonton Oilers – February 11th, 2016
After he missed playing his hometown team earlier in the season while nursing a broken collarbone, McDavid wasted no time in his first contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs, striking the twine just under four minutes into the game.
Once again, McDavid used his speed to create a superb goal, which was ultimately capped off by a lightning quick finish. Take a look at McDavid’s exit from his own zone – Mark Arcobello, who is by no means a slouch in the skating department, tries his best but essentially watches McDavid blow by him in order to take a chip pass from Benoit Pouliot. The rest is, well, history, as the goal sparked a career-high five point night for McDavid.
2. Detroit Red Wings vs Edmonton Oilers- October 21st, 2015
McDavid originally debuted his now signature breakaway move at the World Junior Hockey Championship, but the first time he used it in NHL action came against the Detroit Red Wings early in the season, and it was nothing short of spectacular.
Once again, McDavid used his speed, as well as his size in this instance, in order to break free from veteran Brad Richards’ coverage and accept a pass from Pouliot, who put an incredibly easy looking pass onto McDavid’s stick.
1. Columbus Blue Jackets vs Edmonton Oilers – February 2nd, 2016
After missing said 37 games due to injury, to say McDavid was excited to make his return to the Oilers’ lineup would be a monumental understatement. In his first game back alongside his Oilers teammates, McDavid produced what was arguably the greatest goal in the entire 2015-16 NHL season.
After accepting a hand-off from Pouliot, not surprisingly, McDavid rushed head on at Blue Jackets defenders Jack Johnson and Justin Falk. With Johnson attempting to separate McDavid from the puck, and coincidentally tripping Falk, McDavid was free to waltz in and use virtually the same deke he implemented against the Red Wings in October.
Not only did the goal leave Oilers fans speechless, but it kicked off a triumphant return to NHL ice for McDavid, who wound up totalling three points in the contest on route to an eventual 5-1 victory.
Which of Connor McDavid’s rookie goals was your favorite? Comment why below!
Brett Slawson is a four-year veteran of The Hockey Writers who covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL prospects, and the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Contact Brett on Twitter @brettslawson92, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.