GREAT EXPECTATIONS

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How long has it been since a member of the Edmonton Oilers won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring champion? That would be 1986-1987, when Wayne Gretzky topped the scoring parade with 183 points. That’s long enough ago that Connor McDavid was a decade away from being born.

If you put much stock in what the writers at The Hockey News have to say, that’s a drought that’s about to end after almost three decades. In the annual Pool Guide put out by THN for the 2016-17 season, they’ve got McDavid, the Next One, taking the baton from the Great One in the Art Ross race.

While I haven’t seen a hard copy of the magazine yet, THN is projecting McDavid for 96 points in his sophomore season and pegging him to win the scoring title ahead of the likes of Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, who led the way with 106 points last season, and John Tavares.

That would make McDavid, who is 19 now but will have turned 20 when the regular season ends (his birthday is January 13), the youngest scoring leader since Crosby did it as a 19-year-old in 2005-06, and he’d be the third-youngest ever after Crosby and Gretzky, who was 20 years old (January 26 birthday) when he won it in 1980-81.

DARE TO DREAM

DreamOn

Given that McDavid managed 48 points in just 45 games as a rookie and was third in the entire league with 1.07 PPG last season behind only Kane and Jamie Benn, I can see why THN is bullish on No. 97, but all the cards are going to have to fall his way for him to top the scoring race.

First, McDavid’s age and experience is a factor. History tells us that. You can see the names and ages of Art Ross Trophy winners dating back to 1947-48 here. Crosby had a full season (he played 81 of 82 games) on his resume when he won it as a teenager. Gretzky had 160 WHA games and another 79 in the NHL before the 1980-81 season. McDavid has 45 games as a pro.

Second, until the Oilers prove otherwise, they’re still an also-ran team that will likely finish in the bottom third of the league and one that doesn’t score much – they ranked 25th in the NHL with 203 goals last season. McDavid is going to get more than his share of that production, but it’s a pretty small pie.

If McDavid can replicate his 1.07 PPG and play all 82 games, he’ll come out at 88 points. I don’t doubt McDavid can put up points at the same rate and even bump it up a bit, but staying healthy for every game is the challenge because, even with Milan Lucic on his left wing and more size in the line-up to ride shotgun, he’s a target.

I won’t be surprised if McDavid wins the NHL scoring title a handful of times – say, five or six – during the next decade or so as the Oilers improve (you’d think) as a team. My best guess is that he’ll be in the conversation atop the leader board this season, but winning an Art Ross Trophy for 2016-17 is a big ask. Wouldn’t that be something? 

WHILE I’M AT IT

SoapBox

  • Assuming Lucic and Jordan Eberle get the most playing time on either side of McDavid at even strength, I’m curious to know how you project both of them for the coming season. Lucic’s career-high for points is 62 (2010-11). Eberle had 76 points in 2011-12.

  • This from Bob Stauffer on Twitter last night: “Told interest from multiple teams on unsigned Bruins pick Matthew Benning. Right shot D, smart, competitive. LA, EDM, VAN all make sense.” Benning played junior in Spruce Grove. Dad Brian was born here and played for the Oilers. Bruins drafted Benning in 2012 when Peter Chiarelli was GM in Boston. Sounds like a telegraphed shot.

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

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  • vetinari

    Pretty sure McDavid’s performance will dictate how the Oilers perform. If he ends up top 10 in the scoring race, the Oilers may end up with a shot at the playoffs. Another serious injury and we’ll tread water. Can’t wait for training camp.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    For McDavid to reach 90+ points, Ebs(or Yak) has to bring it every night as well.

    The pp has to land in the top 10 by seasons end.

    Healthy all year.

    Defence needs to actually play defence.

    A lot of things need to finally fall into place(team wise)for McDavid to reach that point total.

    I’d love to see 97 be concidered for the Art Ross but the kid can’t do it alone. I hope the Hall trade serves as a wake up call for the rest of the team and they start playing as such.

    • Mitch92

      For McDavid to reach 90+ points, Ebs and Yak will have to be on different lines! Looch, CMD, Puljujärvi is going to be our top line for many moons to come. Then Eberle can dominate in his more natural second line assignment with RNH feeding him and Pouliot or Maroon doing the heavy lifting.

      • I'm too tall for this @#$%

        Puliot, RHN, Eberle has been an effective 1st line in the past. I’m guessing they would clean house if played as a second line against softer competition than the last time they played together.

  • Hemi

    At the risk of being completely out to lunch, I believe we do have a legit shot at squeaking into the playoffs.

    What’s the scoop on Benning? Why was he unsigned?

  • madjam

    Can McDavid top the 1.5Pts/game I set for him last year ? 120 is not that far out of reach with Jesse and Draisaitl expected scoring contributions . Will Jesse press for Calder and perhaps Art Ross ?

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      You’re calling on Jesse to push for the art Ross? Based on what? You know there’s Austin Matthews, Patrick Laine and fellows like Mitch Marner expected to play in the league next year why wouldn’t you set your sights on the Calder? Even then he’s unlikely… Do you work in Oilers management?

      • Mitch92

        Having the most rookies in your line-up does not necessarily increase your chances of one of them winning the Calder. The Leafs may have upwards of 10 rookies in their line-up this season which does not bode well for them in the results column.

          • Mitch92

            What is your point, that there is heavy competition for the Calder this year so Jesse should just not even bother to show up? CMD and Jesse Puljujärvi could be as dynamic a pair of forwards this season as Kane and Panarin in Chicago were last season and that would easily be enough to knock Smugly Matthews and any other Leaf out of contention for the Calder.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            you just can’t proclaim Jesse P. as a legit Calder contender because Leaf fans need to have something to cheer for with their team, therefore either Matthews or Marner shall be Calder winners! didn’t you know this by now?? 😉

      • madjam

        Like Laine , but prefer speed ,future projection and acumen of Jesse . Matthews okay but over rated . Do not care for the diminutive Marner . Jesse and McDavid should press Kane and Panarin feats from last season due to their speed , skating and size advantage . Difference being we do not have a Seabrooke or Keith to anchor our defense . Jesse will be a power also on power play , whether as a winger or point man on either side . Jesse fills more than just one hole !

  • Dobbler

    I’m sick of being cautiously optimistic. I want to throw caution to the wind! McDavid is the reincarnation of Greztky…and Ghandi and Bruce Lee and Jesus and Evil Kenevil. 100+ points this year, and he drags the perfomance of everyone on the team up with him (kicking and screaming if needed), and the Copper and Blue make the playoffs (the cup will be in 2 years).

    Unrealistic? Maybe… I don’t care. All praise McJebus!

  • daryl

    What all the pundits seem to forget is the Oilers could have had 85 points last year if Conner and Oscar had been healthy. It is not a reach that they should have 95 points this year. Think about it we now have Adam, Milan, Jesse, Oscar, Brandon, and Conner this team will make the playoffs!

    • The pundits are forgetting what? Woulda-coulda-shoulda doesn’t count for anything, especially when it comes to what will happen the following season.

      Should have 95 points? This team will make the playoffs? I’ll mark you down as optimistic.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      I agree

      When the Flames traded for Dougie Hamilton many thought they would been playing for at least home ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs and maybe a division title. They assumed this because they saw an already good Flames team made better by key acquisitions.

      If daryl is right and the Oilers would’ve had 85 points last year (something we’ll never know) with a healthy McDavid and Klefbom, despite all the other holes and injuries this roster suffered with last year, then logic would suggest that if the same pundits projected bigger and better things for last year’s Flames they shouldn’t be shocked an “85 point” Oilers team makes the jump into the 90s the following year and makes the playoffs.

      The added bonus is that this team should be extra focused to avoid the embarrassment of 11 years out of the playoffs. That record takes names and numbers.

  • Borbs

    I’m with Brownlee on this one. After ten years of woulda-coulda-never have, I’m going to take a wait and see approach to this season. Cautiously optimistic is still not even how I’ll be this year. I’ll get excited at Christmas if McDavid is going great guns. After the last decade, no sense getting worked up until it it’s necessary. I just don’t have the energy for it anymore.

  • Oiler Al

    Here we go again! McDavid 19 yrs,Puljujarvi barely 18 and you want kids ..again… to carry the team. Lets not put pressure on these kids. Let them develop into the Stars they can be.

    Oilers have stop playing desperate,even though its been 10 years.

  • Oiler Al

    Here we go again! McDavid 19 yrs,Puljujarvi barely 18 and you want kids ..again… to carry the team. Lets not put pressure on these kids. Let them develop into the Stars they can be.

    Oilers have stop playing desperate,even though its been 10 years.

  • OilCan2

    Jesse and Connor will be the story this season. Add Lucic; or what if,… you threw Yak on that line and had Jesse on left wing. He played there for a very strong Finnish team last season.

    Ahhh; the joys of summer:) endless maybes.

  • RJ

    Everyone is going to be healthy and have a career year. Puljujarvi is going to be the greatest rookie of the past 20 years.

    Even though MacLellan and Woodcroft disproved the hype, they get another chance to see if they can do more on the PP.

    The lack of a puckmoving defenceman won’t hurt them in the least.

    The fact none of the young centres is remotely competent at faceoffs last season doesn’t matter.

    Eberle notes that he’s going to have to stop dogging it because he wants another big Oilers contract soon. He exceeds last season’s total and gets 50 points.

  • madjam

    Dan Marr described Jesse as the ” ultimate power forward ” . Selanne speaks highly of Puljujarvi . He comes to Oilers speaking no more English than Jarri Kurri had when he started here , and made 75 points in 75 games his first crack . He definitely fits the Chia template . Can play several positions well due to his flexibilities and special teams play .

    You wonder why Columbus passed on Jesse ? Could Katz have paid someone to pass on him I wonder ?