It’s hard to believe that Connor McDavid is still only 21 years old. As of right now, he is the best hockey player in the NHL, and arguably in the world. You might recall, this was where Sidney Crosby a few years ago. But years have passed and while Crosby is still a great hockey player, he’s no longer “Sid the Kid”. Which makes you wonder if McDavid is able to make his talents last? Part of it has to do with age, but another part of this equation has to do with being an elite player.
Connor McDavid, who is the captain of the Edmonton Oilers has been affirmed as the game’s best player by his peers for two straight years. He’s scored 27 goals in the final 30 games of last season. This is an extraordinary stretch that raised very little excitement beyond Edmonton because teammates collapsed around him. If McDavid can remain healthy, it’s likely that he will score 120 points minimum. It’s more likely, however, that he will score 130 or even 135. In fact, he’s had four goals and seven assists in four preseason games.
His agent, Jeff Jackson, has indicated that he believes McDavid’ has a wiseness to him that is well beyond his years. Even if that’s true, is his agent pumping him up just because he’s his client? While that’s inconsequential, what we really want to know is whether the Oilers will keep McDavid, in a similar way that the Pittsburg Penguins kept Crosby. Further, if they choose to do this, they will also have to surround him with a remarkable cast. Is that even a possibility for McDavid and the Oilers?
The Oilers came very close to reaching the conference finals in 2016-17, but they had some setbacks last year. They won their first game, then lost eight of the next 10. They finished sixth in the Pacific Division, 17 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild-card berth from the Western Conference. This was the 11th time over 12 years that they missed the playoffs.
But they are now counting on a number of guys to return to form from two years ago. Which is a huge leap of faith to have in their players. Not only that, but it seems a bit naive on the part of the coaches and general manager. If the Oilers flounder in any way during the first few games of the season, there are some people (including the aforementioned) could be out of a job.
The Oilers are starting with a bit of a disadvantage. They have kind of a crappy schedule. They open on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils – in Sweden – and then they play nine in a row against teams that made the playoffs, including the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators twice each! It was just last year that they began poorly and kept going downhill.
What does this mean for McDavid? He needs players around him that are worthy. Imagine if Crosby had of played for another team? He would have definitely played just as well, but he would not have gone as far with another team. There is a lot on McDavid’s shoulders, but also on Edmonton as an organization The coaching staff was shuffled around in the off-season, but how much it will help remains to be seen.