McDavid’s Effect On Linemates

Connor McDavid’s first NHL season is over and while the NHL awards voters may opt to give the Calder to Artemi Panarin (who incidentally
doesn’t consider himself a rookie and has been a professional since McDavid was
12), the fact remains that McDavid has lived up to all of the hype that
preceded his entrance into the NHL. He is a genius, a virtuoso on the ice. This
is no more apparent than looking at the effect he had on his linemates.

When they say that great players make the players around
them better, for the most part this is a standard that is incredibly difficult
to live up to. Even the very best in the NHL need to be surrounded with other
good players to perform. “Making someone better” is literally impossible, but
great players might be able to find their teammates in better positions, feed
them better passes, have good chemistry, etc that result in better results.
Making someone better by leaps and bounds is the stuff of legends, not reality.

It’s a good thing for the Oilers, then, that Connor McDavid
is 2/3rd divine, was raised by wolves, and is spending his summer
questing for the Holy Grail.

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The effect that McDavid has had on his linemates is unreal.
At this point, I’m pretty sure the Oilers could hold a contest to pick
McDavid’s new winger from the season ticket holder base and that winner would
be able to score 15 goals next year in the NHL taking passes from 97. Here are three
players who weren’t already considered premier talent that spent time with
McDavid and their 5v5 production with and without him this season.

Nail Yakupov

Without McDavid: 504.25 minutes, 0.83 P/60, 0.59 G/60

With McDavid: 205.25 minutes, 2.63 P/60, 0.58 G/60

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The former 1st overall pick of the 2012 draft has
not had great success with the Oilers. His time here is almost certainly over,
barring the trade market completely collapsing on Chiarelli. Yakupov’s agent
made it clear that he believed the winger needed an offensively minded center
who can play the game at high speed to get the most out him. McDavid and Yak
made beautiful music together to start the season, but injury separated them
and they never did get reunited. Without McDavid, Yakupov was forced to play
with Letestu for the most part and he didn’t have the standalone ability to
overcome that.

Without McDavid, Yakupov was the draft bust he will likely
be remembered as when he leaves town. He couldn’t produce offensively at all.
He disappointed completely. With McDavid he produced at a rate that mirrors
some of the best players in the NHL. It was like a light switch being turned on
and off. Points. No Points. Points. No Points. *light switch rave* The
difference in production could not be more stark.

Benoit Pouliot

Without McDavid: 415.25 minutes, 1.30 P/60, 0.58 G/60

With McDavid: 285.75 minutes, 2.94 P/60, 0.63 G/60

Pouliot has always been a good 5v5 players. That’s his
calling card. He’s an aggressive forechecker with an active stick. That stick
is both the reason he keeps possession so well and the reason he takes
infractions in the offensive zone. He found great success with Connor McDavid
this season playing on the left side. A shoulder injury ended his season, but
before that point he looked like a perfect fit with the rookie sensation. Now
as others have emerged his place beside McDavid is definitely in doubt.

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Without McDavid this season his scoring had dipped below his
previously established levels quite a bit, but with him they ballooned. In the
four years prior to this season, Pouliot averaged 1.97 points per 60 minutes.
That’s very impressive offense for any player, let alone one who has bounced
around the league. So 1.30 without Connor is lower than expected, but 2.94 with
him is other worldly.

Patrick Maroon

Without McDavid: 633.75 minutes, 1.04 P/60, 0.28 G/60

With McDavid: 134 minutes, 3.13 P/60, 1.79 G/60

Patrick Maroon played the least with McDavid but had the
greatest turn around. That is scary for very obvious reasons. What if this was
just a short-lived hot streak and then he returns back to 3rd line
player? He’s played with talent in the past. He spend a fair amount of time with Getzlaf and Perry while a member of the Ducks, but even with Perry he averaged just a little over 2.00 P/60. When the Oilers got Maroon it was practically a favor to the Ducks because he had slumped so badly.
They even agreed to pay 25% of his salary just to facilitate the deal. That’s
how highly considered he was by Ducks management.

Then Maroon got a chance early on here to play with Connor
McDavid and Edmonton found themselves a very different player. His Points and
Goals per 60 minutes are so high that you HAVE to call them unsustainable.
Well, you have to unless you think Maroon is a significantly better goal
producer than Alex Ovechkin who averaged the NHL’s highest 1.37 G/60 over the
course of the season. The chemistry between Maroon and McDavid seemed very
natural despite any reasonable concerns about sustainability. Maroon goes to
the net and has soft hands. That might be enough with McDavid feeding passes.

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thinking cap

The genius of Connor McDavid is so multifaceted. He has
blazing speed, hands, vision, and a stick that acts like a puck magnet. However,
the effect he has had on the players around him, specifically in the ones who
aren’t NHL stars in their own right, is incredible. This 19 year old brings the
absolute most out of his linemates. He finds them with plays no one else can
see. He makes their skills stand out in the best possible light on a consistent

I’ve held off on talking about Eberle because I have
something else in mind with him and he was a very good NHL player before
playing with Connor McDavid. The truth is that McDavid works with everyone. He’s
the free square on the Bingo card. When we talk about great players making the
people around them better, the results speak for themselves. Connor McDavid
elevated the scoring for every player he spent time with.

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How much of a bump to scoring McDavid can be expected to
provide to his linemates long term is something we won’t know until he plays a
lot more than 45 NHL games, but this past season there can be no debate. The
kid was magic, transforming an array of middle-tier talent into elite scorers. 

  • tkfisher

    New long term strategy for management.

    1. Give McDavid his Finish sniper and let the dynasty follow. (I heard there was a pretty good Finn in the draft this year)

    2. Place a complimentary veteran player on the other side, pump their stats, inflate their value and trade said complimentary player for assets to keep the dynasty alive for the next 15 years.

  • kormega

    So McD didn’t make Eberle better because “he was a very good NHL player before playing with Connor McDavid”?

    Being a cock among hens is great for a hennery.

          • ajoseh

            Ebs played a bit with Letestu and his numbers dropped big time. Yak gets stuck with Letestu and everyone wants to drive him out of town. Go over the Ebs with Letestu numbers and it will show tha Yak actually played better than Ebs being stuck with Letestu.


            He got “stuck” with Letestu? Stuck?

            So he must have got “stuck” with someone last year also. Who damaged him last year? Oh yeah, right, the coach.

            And who did he get “stuck” with the year before that? Oh, I remember, that was also the coach.

            You people crying about Yakupov, are like a defence lawyer, trying to get a murder reduced to a misdemeanor.

            I’ll tell you what he’s “stuck” with. FAST feet, and SLOW brain. The only possibility of something changing out of those two? It will not be inside the head.

            He’s a “goal scorer” who doesn’t score goals.

            He’s an intelligent player, with limited intelligence.

            He’s a great player, who’s not great, no matter who he plays with.

            He just might still be here next season. Because, if Peter is hoping to find a GM, who thinks they have a McDAVID in their lineup to pair Slackapov with, he may as well wait for Nails brain cell to develope. Okey, there is Rutherford

            Time to STOP blaming everybody else for a player not being what he was advertised as.

  • vetinari


    McDavid is the “anti-Lander”?

    If we ever put McDavid on the same line with Lander, a black hole would emerge, swallow the entire arena and condense the whole Oiler season into a singularity called, “the offseason”?

  • TKB2677

    It’s funny. For a supposed goal scorer with a “lethal” shot, Yak doesn’t score any more goals per 60 mins with McDavid than without. Plus only being able to score while playing with maybe the best player in the world in a year or 2 is not exactly a ringing endorsement for him as an offensive player.

  • Dirtski

    I ran into him today! Still haven’t washed the hand he shook. Wanted to scream out like a school girl “OMG Connor Mcdavid!!” but tried my best to play it cool and not draw a crowd. Got a quick pic (I look like a starstruck idiot in but oh well) and a handshake then told him he was awesome. The end. Best day ever.

  • 24% body fat

    So, Eberle does not have this natural chemistry that all the media talks about. It is 100% McDavid.

    Is this not the reason to trade Eberle when his offensive numbers are above his average, and clear out 6M in space.

    And this is why we don’t trade Yakupov who can contribute 2.5M worth of production along side him. Why sell low?

    The teams best stretch this year was when Eberle wasnt in the line up. Move Eberle, and add the 2 nhl dmen we need than lets see how the underperformers perform.

  • LOIL99

    He was great this year. To make him better tell his wingers that if they don’t pass 97 the puck and let him make the zone entry they will sit on the bench. I don’t know haw many times 14 tried to gain the zone with his head down instead of passing to 97 and letting him do his thing.

  • Danglishish

    In some ways, this just confirms for me that no wingers on the Oilers current roster should be considered off-limits for trade. This includes our 2 $6mill wingers. As of #97s arrival, they are all now just assets to be used to create balance throughout the rest of the roster.

    In the end, whoever you put on McDavid’s wing is going to cash for you. If it turns out to be Laine (please, please, please), things are going to get pretty insane in the new building…

  • OilCan2

    Let’s talk Connor & Calder.

    Gretzky got passed over because he was in the WHA. Panarin has several KHL seasons and is in the running for the Calder. Connor is in the top 10 all time NHL PPG as a rookie. As noted he has the Midas touch on his team mates. Tied for all time NHL rookie of the month at 3; in HALF a season.

    The Oilers got fleeced for almost the whole team keeping a goalie and two skaters coming into the NHL. The Oilers will AGAIN get fleeced on the expansion draft.

    Connor went to the Otters who were dredging the OHL. He left them on the top. Connor came here to a team that was barely keeping the doors to the Coliseum open. Ten years ago the Oilers had no farm team and then 1/2 a farm team and and the ownership roster was longer than the players list. Mr K has set us up with two farm teams and a new rink.

    Connor may not care about the Calder but I know what his favourite drinking cup looks like.

  • Jay Arrr

    This article perfectly illustrates the greatest weapon of having a player like McDavid, IMO: It doesn’t matter who you put on McDavid’s wing(s), his is the line that the other team has to key on.

  • When Panarin wins Rookie of the year and walks away with the hardware, he should find McDavid and hand it to him. I understand the rules and I am not crying fowl, but come on. Not blaming Panarin at all, he is a heck of a player and will be for a very long time. Could you imagine the points McDavid would have playing along side with Kane? Scary, Scary. Again, I am not bitter or nothing 😉

  • BlownRegal

    On a side note, I wouldn’t mind seeing;
    Hall – Nuge – Ebs
    Maroon – McDavid – Yak
    Pouliot – Drai – Kassian
    Hendricks – Letestu – Pak/Lander

    Although now it’s too late.

  • RJ

    I appreciated the observation re: Yak, and I have mentioned this before elsewhere. Play him with a legit centre, and his P/60 are great. Play him with the black holes Letestu and Korpse, and his P/60 are not great. So while his McDavid stats are solid, his stats with Drai and Nuge weren’t awful either.

    But of course no one wants to point out McLellan underutized him in favor of Chiarelli acquisitions in the same way that MacT favorites got a push. And for the whiners who thumb this down, look at the P/60 and ask Matt to explain it to them.

    If they planned to move Yak, he should have played with quality centres, and given him a decent TOI, none of this 8-10 minutes per game.

  • fasteddy

    I know the GP thing is end of story for Mcdavid getting the Calder, but was pretty blown away to see that Panarin is actually a couple weeks older than Taylor Hall…

  • hockey1099

    Not including eberle in this was a poor choice as he played the most minutes with McDavid this year. Yak didn’t increase his goals per 60 with McDavid which is surprising. Based on the article it actually went down. Yak ain’t no goal scorer. Finding him a better centre in the world isn’t going to be easy so good luck turning him into a sniper. . The other two actually scored more which isn’t surprising at all.

  • madjam

    Conner the new face of the Oilers and trending to be the new face of the NHL . He is already so good he makes Yak and Maroon look much better than what they are .

  • @ Arch

    How much of a bump to scoring McDavid can be expected to provide to his linemates long term is something we won’t know until he plays a lot more than 45 NHL games, but this past season there can be no debate. The kid was magic, transforming an array of middle-tier talent into elite scorers.

    If McDavid can provide anything like the Crosby bump then I hope like hell this team has the management to take advantage of it.

    A bump like that can provide an asset growth tool by propping up trade values and a cap management tool by allowing the team to deal for younger cheaper guys who will produce with McDavid (until the team trades them at their new higher value).

  • freshpotofcoffey

    No one seems to be catching the glaring flaw in this article. Arch states that McDavid makes everyone look good.

    Not true! Korpse still looked like a Korpse when we he played with Him. So perhaps Connor is going to have to learn the Lazarus trick if He really wants to be McJesus.

  • camdog

    I think this says more about how bad Letestu was at driving offence. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like Mark Fayne’s game. Therse are 2 players that contribute the least to even strength attack.

  • cberg

    Funny thing, but although CM’s line mates were benefitting from his presence, the TEAM was better without him, or at least, had a better record. How do you reconcile that?