GREAT EXPECTATIONS

It’s an understatement to say Connor McDavid is generating the kind of expectations and anticipation we haven’t experienced since Sidney Crosby entered the NHL in 2005, and that hullabaloo isn’t limited to fans of the Edmonton Oilers.

Buzz about McDavid torqued up to levels approaching giddy after he waltzed around Rexall Place like he owned the joint July 6, scoring five goals in a scrimmage that was played 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 as fans got their initial look at the first overall pick from the 2015 draft.

That came on the heels of an article by Sportsnet – one I missed at the time it was published – in late June predicting McDavid will score at a .94 PPG rate and finish among the top-10 in NHL scoring as a rookie with 77 points if he plays all 82 games. That item can be found in its entirety here.

Only Crosby, with a predicted output of 1.14 PPG in 2005 (he actually scored at a 1.26 rate with 102 points in 81 games), and Patrick Kane, pegged at .94 in 2007 (Kane produced at .88 with 72 points in 82 games) have been tagged as being this prolific in the last decade.

Is McDavid capable of .94 PPG and 77 points? Sure. Do I expect it? No.

A LOT TO ASK

Expectations

Predicting how past performance in the CHL or European leagues might translate to the NHL is tricky at best and it’s often hit-and-miss, even with the best available models. Simply put, how a player like McDavid might perform depends on several factors — ice time, how he’s used at 5-on-5 and on the power play, most common linemates, the overall quality of the team he plays with and the quality of opponents he gets matched up against.

Just looking at Oiler rookies in the table provided by Sportsnet, Sam Gagner was pegged at .61 PPG and produced at .62 in 2007. In 2010, the prediction on Taylor Hall was .55 PPG and he came in at .50. In 2011, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was picked at .57 PPG and blew that out of the water with .85. In 2012, Nail Yakupov’s expected rate was .50 PPG and he ended up at .65 with a hot finish.

Historically, that .94 PPG is lofty stuff. While we know McDavid will be sheltered, at least to start the season, with Nugent-Hopkins as the top centre, we don’t know who he will play with. Will coach Todd McLellan play Hall with RNH and Jordan Eberle or might he make Benoit Pouliot his top left winger and put Hall alongside McDavid? We don’t know how much ice time McDavid will get – 17 minutes a night, 18 minutes? How much power-play time?

What we do know is the Oilers have been anything but an offensive juggernaut the past three seasons – they’ve been bottom-five in goal scoring in each of those seasons. In those three seasons the power play was No. 19 in percentage in 2014-15, No. 21 in 2013-14 and eighth in 2012-13. 

I can see McDavid scoring close to that predicted .94 PPG clip, but I think that’s the absolute top end, given the variables I’ve mentioned. I’d be more inclined to go with a slightly more conservative .89 PPG. As for number of games McDavid plays, I don’t know, but if he gets into, say, 78 games, that translates to 69 points. What are your numbers?

WHILE I’M AT IT

Megaphone

  • We had another question about who should be the next captain of the Oilers in Monday’s mailbag. While I said I’d prefer that Andrew Ference sit down with McLellan, get his thoughts and then step forward to relinquish the “C,” I don’t believe it’s so imperative the captaincy be passed on now that Ference should be stripped of it. Leaders will lead with or without a letter and I’d have no problem if McLellan took a season to decide who his captain should be.
  • Best competition going into training camp will be on the blue line, and it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to say that. If you assume Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Oscar Klefbom and Justin Schultz are in, that leaves Ference, Eric Gryba, Nikita Nikitin, Griffin Reinhart and Darnell Nurse battling for the final pairing and the seventh spot. My depth chart has Ference, Gryba and Nurse in 5-6-7 going into camp. 

 Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • Rem99

    Interesting transformation this off season with both the team and with me. Prior years Oiler fans over the last 4+ years have had “hope” poured over them to the point of drowning us. The incompetence of this team has left me almost abused, I not sure how others have been treated by other nhl fans but the laughter, constant defending, the results have left me somewhat hesitant to predict anything too optimistic. It wasn’t that long ago that I wouldn’t shy away from boosting about quickly turning the team around,about the young talent we had and predictions of this year we will surprise people, even after all the changes this summer – almost every area in the organization addressed and improved, an actual NHL run organization with talent that others are drooling at and yet still hesitant to boost about my team. Enough is enough, Connor McDavid is landing at the right time with the oil, book it 80+ points, top 10 in scoring, Oilers beating out Flames/Canucks, meaningful games in March / Playoffs to follow!!! Book it.

  • wiseguy

    I think his ppg will depend on how healthy Hall can be. Will Hall play a full season? (Has he ever?) if Hall can play 82 games I think 1.00 ppg is possible, especially with PP time. But Hall always gets injured so I’m going with 65 points.

    • BobbyCanuck

      This may be the first season that Hall does not get injured.

      1) He may finally feel he has some other players on the roster that can take the heat of him

      2) He may finally feel that it is not up to him to win the game single handedly

      That’s what gets him hurt. Oilers lose and lose and lose, Hall gets pi$$ed and irrational, starts doing things that put his body in trouble

  • monsterbater

    Does Nurse still have all 3 years of his ELC remaining? if so a year primarily in the AHL would likely serve the Oil long term.

    Sign him to an extension after year 2 of his ELC, similar to what they need to do with klefbom this offseason. 6 years around the 4 mill per mark would be ideal.

  • freelancer

    PSYCHING UP FOR THE NEW SEASON : Time to soar like an eagle with high expectations to look forward to . Healthy dose of optimism . Not the reserved conservative depressing pessimism of others . It’s the off season , don’t really appreciate or require depression of pessimism .Lofty goals reap lofty rewards .

    Generational talent like McDavid brings new hope for him to break rookie scoring records . If any can he can he can . So what can we maybe expect ?

    Teemu Selanne – as a rookie at 22 yeasr old had in 1992-93 season : 84 games ,76 G ,56A ,and 132 pts. with 24 Power Play goals .

    Generational talent at 19 years of age was W.Gretzky . He had in 79 games : 51G,86 A = 137 points with 13 power play goals . As an 18 year old with Oilers of WHA he had 72 games with 43Gand 61A = 104 points . Of course wayne followed up his rookie season with 164,212,196,205,208 and 215 point seasons . Wayne’s last year of junior wasv like McDavid : 63 games – 70 G, 112A=182 points .

    What is interesting is that all three players are 6 feet even .

      • Train#97

        Then I take it you do not view Mcdavid as being a generational talent ? Further to my expectations : Crosby had in 81 games – 39G,63A=102 points his rookie season . M.Lemieux had in 73 games , 43G,57A= for 100 points his rookie season . 100 points for a generational player first year is not that unrealistic to be honest . To predict less is rather conservative and pessimistic if you believe he is a generational player as many are predicting .

        • ubermiguel

          Those were different times. Lemieux didn’t even crack the Top 10 scorers his rookie season with 100 points. Crosby was 6th in scoring, and scored less than another rookie named Ovechkin (which is a reminder that at the time there was no clear separation between Crosby and Ovechkin…Crosby was not clearly “generational”, merely very very good).

          If McDavid cracks the Top 10 we should be very happy, but he’ll only need 75ish points for that.

        • freelancer

          As has been said many times it is a different game the Lemieux’s time… heck it is a different game from 5 years ago. The highest amount of points last season was 87… 87!! The game is much more defensive, goalies are much bigger and better than the past. To state that McDavid will outscore anyone from last year by over 10 points is not only foolish but just plain wrong.

          If the kid proves me wrong and scores 100+ points you can proudly say you were right, but you might want to temper your expectations slightly. If he has a 65+ point campaign in his first season everyone should consider that a resounding success. Anyone who says otherwise obviously does not understand the game.

          • Dan 1919

            They said the same things when Gretzky came into league , if your old enough to remember it . McDavid is the new era make no mistake about it . Maybe you have a closed mind , and do not fully understand /grasp it as yet ?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Page 3 is now reserved for the Oilersnation 9th annual Cyber Brawl.

    With tension here at an all time high, please have your digital weapons checked for the appropriate devastation capabilities.

    [insert Mel Gibsons Braveheart speech here]

    Starts by pulling madjams gonchies up over the top of his head, and snaps the waistband across his eyes for added effect. Take that madjam!

    • Train#97

      You might have to pull them over your own head as I look forward to seeing this generational talent push Gagner for 8 points in a game , or even D.Sittler’s old mark of 10 points in a game . He might even help a teammate reach those lofty goals . Be more open minded to what a generational talent might bring , you’ll enjoy it that much more if he does so . Don’t be a stick in the mud with a generational talent .

  • Train#97

    Just for fun – here is some staggering figures from M.Lemieux’s final year in junior in the QMHL . 70 games played with 133G,149A=282points . That’s over 4.00 points/game . Playoffs : in 14 games he had 29G ,23A=52 points , just slightly under4 points a game . Never broke the 200 point level as an NHL’er , with 199 being his best . He was quite the player in his own rite .

  • Cowbell_Feva

    McDavid , as stated by many , is the new generation of talents for the new era of hockey since the lockout . He grew up with the new rules and is excelling at it like no one else has , thus a new emerging generational talent has been born to fit that reality . He will stretch those bounds like no one else before him , and so it should be . It’s not matter of whether I am right or wrong , it’s all about what he is capable of considering , and I find most of you to be conservative in your estimations based mostly on old NHL rules of play . . How many multiple games might he have ? I would think several that he is capable of . Nice thing is , Oiler fans can readily get on the bandwagon on this new era generational talent .

  • freelancer

    I might even be conservative in my estimation of what McDavid might accomplish his first year , just like everyone was with Gretzky and his generational era . You think I want to be defensive and under estimate him before season even starts ? No way . The dream is alive and the reality is closer than a lot think or expect. I am sure McDavid has his sights on duplicating Gretzky , and challenging those scoring figures . How soon most of you forget how the Oilers rewrote hockey with a generational talent like Gretzky . Why destroy that dream prematurely , as it’s only the off season .

    • Dan 1919

      LOL!!! Some of you people on here are beyond dreaming…more like out to lunch! Mc D is gunna be awesome!no doubt! but if you think he will challenge any of Gretzky records you are delusional! 215 points! 50 goals in 39 games! those will never be broken! The game has changed buddy…all the players are bigger,stronger and faster…and the goalies are way better than they were in the 80 ‘s. The sooner you get with the times and forget that era of hockey dude the more your write ups and opinion will make sense. Go Oil!

      • Dan 1919

        A lot more people said Gretzky could never break records of those before him if you recall . You might even be one of them for all we know . Records are made to be broken . If I am out to lunch , then you might be still back figuring out your breakfast . What part of McDavid represents the new era of hockey do you fail to comprehend ? Your the one who is delusional not knowing where the new era is taking us , just as you probably were when Gretzky helped transform hockey here . You sound like the show ” Guide To a Married Man – deny,deny,deny ” .

        • Dan 1919

          LOL! Your a dreamer buddy! Plain and simple…Different game pal!!!Your not even worth the time to debate with…records are made to be broken eh! this ain’t the 100 meter dash dude! Here’s a nickels worth of free advise dude…don’t bet the farm on Mc D breaking any of Gretzky’s records. You don’t even realize how stupid you sound! Mc D would blush and say thanks and when you left would laugh his ass off at you!

        • Cowbell_Feva

          I understand McDavid represents the new era of hockey. But that doesn’t mean he will break any records….you haven’t seen him play a single NHL hockey game and you feel like he’s going be the best hockey player to ever play the game? ?

  • Randaman

    Bought my 4 game power pack today. Flames, Leafs, Bruins & Predators.

    Pretty pumped

    Go Oil

    Oh, and McDavid will have somewhere between 80 & 90 points.

    Calder winner

  • Dan 1919

    Mcdavid has come to the Oilers right at the perfect time, to me the core have turned a corner even though the oil were close to last place last year I really enjoyed the last half to the session, and watching Hall and Ebs light it up at worlds was just another indicator that, I see McDavid do really well in Edmonton this year.

  • Dan 1919

    I see a few factors effecting his PPG this year. First off, it’s his stature in his coaches mind. If McLellan feels he can handle first line minutes off the hop, we may see a line featuring Hall Eberle and McDavid right off the get go. I think if you want McDavid and Yakupov in your top 6, they need to be separated and that’s what has me thinking this could happen. If McLellan elects to give Yakupov more shelter in a top 9 role, we could see McDavid with Hall and Purcell. I think if McLellan plays McDavid with Hall and Eberle, you give all three the chance to achieve 35-50 even strength points.

    Now, the kicker for me is McLellan’s power play. His power play has been incredibly effective since he came into the league. I think the power play is what will push McDavid’s production over the top. If we see an Oiler pp click the way it projects to, things could get special in a hurry. Depending on how the lines stack up, we could see both McDavid and Hall scoring between 25-35 pp points.

    What brings this all back to earth is the likelihood that the team will falter for stretches at either even strength or special teams scoring, but which they always will for at least a few game stretches at a time. With luck, cold streaks sometimes coincide with an easy turn in the schedule, allowing players to gain confidence and begin burning again. If everything breaks the Oilers’ way this season you could of course see McDavid score 80 points, with luck maybe even more, but out west that is a tall order and something none of us should be setting as an expectation.

  • Dan 1919

    Pouliot – Nuge – Yakupov / Hall – McDavid – Eberle /
    Korpikoski – Lander – Purcell / Hendrick – Letestu – Pitlick

    Pouliot – Nuge – Eberle / Hall – McDavid – Purcell /
    Draisaitl – Lander – Yakupov / Korpikoski – Letestu – Hendricks

    There is a version of this team that plays hard, a version where two of it’s lines can be relied upon to step up and play hard checking hockey without the burden of a small, skilled teenager who doesn’t exactly know how to adjust defensively. I think McLellan will want to have two lines in his pocket that can emphasize strong puck pressure hockey when his top two lines begin to soften down the stretch. Just projecting, but I think the top version of the roster is one that could be strong sooner than the second and give Drai more time to develop. No need to rush everyone along at once.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    if this is the thread we’ll be returning to at the end of next season, i say mcdavid gets 94 points. if i was guessing for money, 76 points.

    hall is a ppg guy when motivated. if hes on the second line with mcd you gotta think both of them have a shot at league leading numbers, top 10ish