While Wanye and Baggedmilk (and other fans I’m sure) are crossing off the days on their Octane calender eagerly awaiting the start of the NHL season, we are in the down cycle of the NHL off-season. With arbitration finished, the remaining free agents holding out hope they can sign a deal and most teams’ rosters set, it is a good time to look at expectations for the coming season.
What should Oilers fans expect from Connor McDavid?
McDavid has been the most talked about Oiler this summer, which is expected considering his immense talent. McDavid will be a successful NHL player, but how many points should we expect from him as a rookie?
Gabriel Desjardins came up with a guideline for NHL success. It is a good tool, but like any prediction it is far from perfect, because no two NHL players are alike. Their quality of linemates, teammates and coaching can impact how a rookie plays.
Desjardins’ data has McDavid scoring 23 goals and 63 points. It is a interesting number (more on that later), and one that seems many in Oilersnation would be disappointed with. Because McDavid has been compared to Sidney Crosby, some fans expect McDavid to come close to Crosby’s 102-point rookie season.
Scoring is down from 2005/2006. Jamie Benn led the NHL with 87 points last season. Sixteen players scored more than Benn’s 87 points in Crosby’s rookie season, so everyone who expects McDavid to reach 100 points should temper their expectations.
I’m not saying he can’t do it, but no one should expect him to.
Let’s look at the Oilers other first overall picks.
Taylor Hall scored 22-20-42 in 65 games. (.646 points per game)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied 18-34-52 in 62 games. ( .839 PPG)
Nail Yakupov scored 17-14-31 in 48 games. (.645 PPG)
Desjardins projected Hall to score 17-29-46 points (.561PPG) in 82 games, RNH 11-27-38 (.463PPG) and Yakupov 18-22-40 (.487PPG) They all produced a higher PPG, especially RNH, than what had been projected. If that trend continues, then it is likely McDavid will surpass 63 points.
The other factor to consider is Hall, RNH and Yakupov didn’t have the luxury of playing with veterans as skilled as Hall and Jordan Eberle are today. Hall has been a PPG player twice in the NHL and Eberle has scored 63+ points three times. McDavid will play with one and possibly both of them for extended periods this season. He will have more skilled veteran offensive linemates than Hall, Yakupov or RNH had when they were rookies.
FIRST OVERALL PICKS…
How have other #1 overall picks (forwards) produced in their first season since 2000?
Ilya Kovalchuk 2001/2002 (18 year old season)
29-22-51 in 65 games (.784 PPG). Prorated to 82-game season = 37-27-64.
Rick Nash 2002/2003(18 year old season)
17-22-39 in 74 games (.527 PPG). Prorates to 19-24-43.
Alex Ovechkin 2005/2006 (20 year old season).
52-54-106 in 81 games (1.31 PPG). Prorates to 53-54-107. **His September 17th birthday meant he missed 2003 draft by three days, went in 2004 and then the lockout season delayed his debut until October of 2005.
SIdney Crosby 2005/2006 (18 year old season)
39-63-102 in 81 games. (1.26 PPG). Prorates to 39-64-103
Patrick Kane 2007/2008 (19 year old season)
21-51-72 in 82 games. (.88 PPG)
Steven Stamkos 2008/2009 (18 year old season)
23-23-46 in 79 games (.582 PPG). Prorates to 24-24-48.
John Tavares 2009/2010 (19 year old season)
24-30-54 in 82 games. (.658 PPG)
Taylor Hall 2010/2011 (19 year old season)
22-20-42 points in 65 games (.646PPG). Prorates to 28-35-53
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2011/2012 (18 year old season)
18-34-52 in 62 games (.839 PPG). Prorates to 24-45-69
Nail Yakupov 2012/2013 season (19 year old season)
17-14-31 in 48 games (.645 PPG). Prorates to 29-24-53
Nathan MacKinnon 2013/2014 season (18 year old season)
24-39-63 in 82 games.
WHAT DO WE SEE
- If you average the actual point totals of the #1 picks in their rookie season (I didn’t include Yakupov because he didn’t play a full season) the other ten scored 631 points, an average of 63 points, which is what Desjardins’ data projects for McDavid.
- I don’t like prorating because it is just a projection, and there is no guarantee the player will perform exactly the same as he did in actual games played, but I know many like that number so I included it.
- It is likely McDavid will miss at least one game, and injuries will impact how many points he scores. Only Kane, Tavares and MacKinnon played all 82 games.
- Crosby and Ovechkin’s rookie seasons occurred during the highest offensive season the NHL has had in the past 15 years. McDavid is a special player so I understand why people expect him to be closer to Crosby’s totals, but considering how offence has dropped since 2006, I don’t see it being possible.
- Crosby finished 23 and 21 points behind league leaders Joe Thornton and Jaromir Jagr in 2006.
- If McDavid plays close to the full season I predict he will tally 74-77 points. I hope he scores more, and if he scores less I won’t be shocked or disappointed, but I think it is best not to expect 100 points from McDavid. It simply isn’t realistic.
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