McDavid’s Aggression

Connor McDavid has all the tools. He has the brains to think
the game at the highest level. He has the hands to make plays with the puck
that even the world’s elite marvel at. He has wheels reminiscent of a young
Pavel Bure. And he has the vision to find his teammates and see plays that are
difficult to spot from a bird’s eye view of the ice. However, what ties it all
together to make him the most dangerous player on the ice is his
aggressiveness. It’s not enough that he just has these gifts. His genius is in
the way he challenges the opposing skaters to keep up to him.

You need only to have watched the last game to be reminded
of the fact that Connor McDavid against five skaters is already hilariously unfair
for the opposition. His goal – the goal – was a blend of unnatural speed,
hands, vision, and aggressiveness that makes McDavid dangerously unpredictable
in the best possible sense of the phrase.

Perhaps what makes McDavid so dangerous is his
aggressiveness, not with his physical play like Kassian or Hendricks, but the
aggressiveness with which he attacks the defense. Because his skill level is so
incredibly high and his feet never out-pace his hands or his mind, McDavid can
challenge NHL defensemen in ways maybe only two or three other people in the
world can.

We know that McDavid can make those critical plays with no
time and space while he’s at top speed. He knows he can make those plays. He
also knows most people cannot. So when he attacks the Blue Jackets’ defense by
moving to the inside, what he’s really doing is throwing down the challenge to
Justin Falk and Jack Johnson. He has all the confidence in the world and knows
that there is better than a 50/50 chance that if he forces the defense to make
a play they will come up short against him.

In this case, McDavid starts his assault with that wicked
speed starting in his own zone. Eberle gets the puck up and over to Pouliot but
he’s a little flat-footed. McDavid is behind the pass by a split-second but in
the blink of an eye he’s got the puck and is heading towards the space between
Johnson and Falk. Johnson attempts to stick his hip out but McDavid is so fast
he walks around him before contact is made. Meanwhile, he’s regained control of
the puck and pulled it back towards him which apparently melts Falk’s brain and
leaves him sliding on the ice neatly out of the play. Now he’s all alone with
the puck.

That’s when he’s playing 5v5 hockey.

So when the opposition is down a man that aggressiveness
just ramps up. We’ve seen him draw defenders towards him. We’ve seen him use
that incredible speed to break through the blue line. We’ve seen him
relentlessly hound the puck as he did last night as well.

The rookie centre gets the puck and again makes a move that
challenges his target to make play even better than the one he is about to
make. In this case he attempts to take the puck around the goaltender and he’s
up to the task. But the rest of the defense is frozen in place, static, while
McDavid continues his dynamic and relentless attack. McDavid hasn’t given up on
the play even after his initial move is thwarted. He gets the puck back and
keeps the play moving around a Blue Jackets team that is watching a trainwreck
happen in slow-motion.

While the goalie is out of the play, having made one quality
athletic stop already, the defense can only pray the ref will blow the whistle.
He doesn’t. Instead, McDavid gets the puck back while he’s getting up from a
prone position and keeps the play moving towards Eberle and away from the
penalty-killers.

Goal.

McDavid is a scoring chance machine. That applies to all
game states. In his 14 games we’ve witnessed his ability to make the power play
deadly as well as his ability to find space at even-strength. He’s so gifted in
so many aspects of play but it’s the willingness he has to throw down the
gauntlet to seasoned NHL veterans, just 14 games into his own career, that
makes Connor McDavid the electrifying and terrifying player he is today.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    McD does indeed see the ice better than any Oiler player and it shows. i can’t help but think that with the production they might get down the road with Leon and Connor as the top 2 centers, Nuge is the logical player to be moved this summer for a d-man. (Hamonic perhaps?) then add a good UFA d-man, and the Oilers just may have solved the never ending problem of having a competent defense.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Yes please. I really like our chances with a just turned 19 and 20 year old tandem playing 40 mins a night at center – facepalm. You want to help McDavid? – provide him with some protection in the batting order.

      Soon, if not already, McDavid will get all the tough matchups. What happens if you run a Hall-Nuge-Drai line, that was killing it before injuries decimated this team? Now who do teams match up against? Meanwhile Drai continues to develop as a player on the wing and gives flexibility as a center when injuries / matchups demand it.

      While only 23 (soon) at least Nuge knows his way around the league and is an excellent 2 way guy, who will keep getting better.

      Why do you move Nuge for a 3 / 4 D man? When the hell did Travis (edit: NOT Justin) Hamonic become Shae Weber?

      Finally – finally this team has depth at center – and people want to destroy it, for a DECENT but not great defenseman.

      Protect McDavid. Save the Nuge.

      • .

        I wonder if Hamonic and a 2nd round pick could be had for Pouliot, Purcell, and Shultz?

        Hall-RNH-Drai

        Yak-McD-Ebs

        Would be a hell of a top six.

        Kassian-Letestu-Hendricks

        Would be a strong 3rd line.

        • 99CupsofCoffey

          Hamonic has a lot more trade value, than the 3 you have suggested. Purcell is worth nothing more than a mid round draft pick, and Schultz probably similar. Pouliot is not a wanted commodity either. Its going to cost Edmonton at least one of Eberle or maybe even Nuge to pry him.

        • Cain

          agreed. Except pouliot is without question a top 6 player.

          I see yak and kassian on the third line with a yet to be acquired center…who is good. Someone like Stoll 7 years ago.

          Letestu and Hendriks on the 4th line seems right.

        • The Soup Fascist

          My mistake – I make lots of them.

          I feel bad you did not have the cognitive ability to grab the basic premise of the argument in spite of my error.

          Apologies.

          I fixed it so you could take another run at it.

      • Danglishish

        All great points. I don’t think anyone would suggest that Nuge isn’t very valuable to this team.

        But the problem I have is that those who say Nuge should be off limits never address the obvious question:

        If we keep Nuge, what do we do about our defense? If there is consensus that only Nuge will get us a legit top pairing dman, what would you do? Do you move Ebs for a 3-4 dman instead? Is that enough to get this team over the hump? If you’re Chia, what is your plan to get us a d-core that makes us a contender?

        Genuinely curious…

        • A-Mc

          Hall would net us a really good defencemen. You’d retain your three centres, or one could play wing.

          Hall is a talent, but we will need a o give something good to get something good.

        • S cottV

          I would try to trade either Eberle and the 1st round pick or Yak and the 1st round pick for a #2 defenseman.

          I don’t think anyone will trade a #1 defenseman.

          Only way to get a #1 would be free agency

        • a lg dubl dubl

          Its called, UFA, good trades, taking advantage of teams with cap problems, fleecing a team, having a better prediction of a breakout season for a young defenseman than another team, pouncing on an opportunity and good drafting, analytics to identify undervalued players. Those are they ways we get a D man.
          calibre top 6. Why dilute that just to get a little better D core? How may teams are screaming for goals, and we are sitting here with potentially goals coming out of our ears if we could just get the puck to them. Sure we could trade some of them, and would be more balanced?? That’s the easy way. But that wont get us a stanley.

          What will get us a stanley is if chia manages to keep McDavid, Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Drai, Pouliot, Klefbom, Davidson, Sekera, Nurse, Talbot for the next 5 years and somehow manages to round out the roster with a top D pairing and a solid bottom six. He does that, and we are making some serious noise. He starts trading some of that core to fill other holes cause its the easiest thing to do, we maybe make it to the second round a few times????

          I want an all or nothing, high risk, high reward approach. Everyone things we should trade nuge or ebs cause we need defense, well my friends, thats the easy play for neophytes like us.

          • Danglishish

            “Its called, UFA, good trades, taking advantage of teams with cap problems, fleecing a team, having a better prediction of a breakout season for a young defenseman than another team, pouncing on an opportunity and good drafting, analytics to identify undervalued players. Those are they ways we get a D man.”

            Yes, that’s also called ‘pie in the sky fairytale management.” “Good trades” is a key component? Thanks for that insight, I’m sure Chia could use advice like that. “Fleecing a team?” Sounds simple, great plan.

            The whole point of my question was to point out that, while it’s fine and good to want to keep an asset like Nuge, unless you have another specific option in play, he may be the necessary piece to go.

            Your answer illustrates EXACTLY what’s wrong with the “don’t touch the core” argument.

          • Cain

            Couldn’t agree more.

            There always seems to be a: “somehow” or “unseen solution” or “find a way” answer to the question of how to get quality for unequal return…

          • Jay (not J)

            I didn’t know this was an option.

            I have to agree trading Nuge or Eberle is the obvious move. Give quality to get quality.

            If Chiarelli can do a “Neely + 1 for Pedersen” type of trade to add a defenceman then that’s the better way to go. (But I won’t hold my breath.)

        • The Soup Fascist

          Honestly, I would exhaust using a combination of a winger (Ebs, Yak), and / or our 1st rounder and / or one of the LHD we have, to shore up the RH d-side.

          Sekera, Klefbom, Nurse, Reinhart and Davidson are all lefties. Unless two are switching to the right side (not recommended), you have a problem. Now I don’t move Klefbom unless there is a big upgrade and I likely don’t move Nurse at all.

          Point is between some combination of a winger with pedigree, a seemingly high 1st rounder and a good LH d-man you should be able to find a solid RH 1st pairing guy. You also may have to acquire another through an overpay in FA.

          Moving out Schultz or not re-signing him is a no brainer. And management does not seem to like Fayne’s game so he is likely on the way out, though possibly salary retained. I would keep Gryba if he is not too expensive as a 7 – your mileage may vary.

          Moving a fine 2 way centre to shore up D, is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Solves one problem – causes another.

          Save the Nuge.

          • Danglishish

            I can 100% get on board with that.

            I think the challenge though is that any team giving up a legit top pairing dman is going to want a top line center in return. They are both rare commodities, so taking a package of winger(s) and 3rd pairing dmen for a d-stud may be unrealistic. You need to get very, very lucky to pull that off.

            I guess at the end of the day if Chia’s only option is to move Nuge for a stud, as much as I want Nuge to stay, I think that puts us over the top and makes us a contender so I’d accept it. Not preferred, but maybe necessary. Not doing anything is not an option in my opinion.

          • The Soup Fascist

            That is fair.

            So the secret is to find a potential top pairing guy stuck in traffic behind another stud.

            I don’t advocate trading the world for him as his contract expires in 2017, but a guy like Kevin Shattenkirk is a RHS guy who can certainly run a powerplay and be an offensive catalyst. He is buried behind Pietrangelo and feeling the heat from Parayko on the right side.

            Not ideal because of his contract – but the kind of guy that can be had especially for a team needing scoring wingers like the Blues.

            We need to see the lay of the land this summer. Cap will be an issue for some teams making them give up pieces they don’t want to. Draft lottery will obviously play a role.

            I am convinced whoever gets #1 would be courted by Arizona to trade the ticket for the Phoenix-raised Austen Matthews. OEL could definitely be in play for that pick given the ‘Yotes need to sell tickets and rumblings of a downtown Phoenix arena – where it should have been built in the first place.

      • Chet.

        PREACH IT!!

        Not to mention Kelfbom, Davidson, Nurse and Reinhart are all developing along at different rates which will help settle the back end down.

        Hamonic can be had, but not for an overpayment, especially not Nuge or Eberle.