After having his rookie season with the Edmonton Oilers rudely interrupted by a busted clavicle that kept him on the shelf for 37 games, Connor McDavid completed the equivalent of a full NHL campaign in a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings Thursday.

McDavid hit the 82-game mark last night, and his numbers are what you’d expect from a player who arrived in Edmonton riding a wave of hype and hoopla we haven’t seen since Sidney Crosby, the guy McDavid is jockeying with atop the scoring race for the Art Ross Trophy, came into the league.

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Despite a December that’s been slow by the standard he’s already set, McDavid, who is still two weeks from celebrating his 20th birthday, has 29-61-90 through his first 82 games (1.10 PPG). In 2015-16, McDavid scored 16-32-48 in 45 games (1.07 PPG). Through 37 games this season, he’s scored 13-29-42 (1.13 PPG).

With Crosby hotter than a three-dollar pistol with 42 points, including 26 goals (in just 31 games), and Pittsburgh teammate Evgeni Malkin right behind McDavid with 15-26-41, Oiler fans don’t only have a playoff race to contemplate in the second half of the season after a decade out of the post-season, they’ve got an Art Ross Trophy contender in McDavid.




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The fact that McDavid, who was held off the score sheet against the Kings and has just 1-3-4 in his last eight games, is still in the race against Crosby has me thinking they’ll go nose-to-nose the rest of the way. Seasons tend to go in ebbs and flows and McDavid will have another stretch when he heats up. Crosby, inevitably will cool off. It’ll go back and forth the rest of the season.

The Oilers haven’t had an Art Ross Trophy winner since Wayne Gretzky did the deed in 1986-87 with 62-121-183. Gretzky won his first scoring title in 1980-81 with 55-109-164 – he turned 20 during that season (Jan. 26). McDavid turns 20 Jan. 13. While McDavid won’t approach Gretzky’s numbers in this era, he’s on pace for 92 points this season and he’ll likely take a run at 100.

In the bigger picture, the Oilers, now 19-12-6 for 44 points, have won four of their last five games without McDavid lighting it up and having to carry the team on his back. The Oilers didn’t hit 44 points until Game 51 last season. It took them 59 games to hit 44 points in 2014-15. A scoring race. A playoff race. What’s not to like so far?



  • The Oilers finished last season with a goal-differential of minus-42. Through 37 games this season, they’re plus-10. That’s fourth-best in the Western Conference behind only Minnesota, Chicago and San Jose. Going into this season, I thought the Oilers were capable of cutting that minus-42 by 30 goals or so, but I didn’t see them as a plus-team.
  • Eric Gryba’s game-winner against the Kings last night was his first in a career that’s spanned 236 NHL games. It was the just the sixth goal of his career. His single-season high is two goals, a feat he managed in each of his first two seasons. Goals, let alone game-winners, from guys like Gryba are like finding a crumpled, old $20 bill in a suit pocket.
  • The win over Los Angeles gives the Oilers a 14-4-4 record against Western Conference teams and they’re 5-3-2 against Pacific Division teams. They were 9-15-5 against Pacific teams last season. If you want to look at why the Oilers are in contention for a playoff spot, that’s a good place to start. 
  • Kris Russell led all Oilers in ice time against the Kings with 21:51. I thought he played very well yet again. I’m not so impressed that I want to see GM Peter Chiarelli throw a long-term contract (anything more than two years) at him, but Russell can play second-pairing minutes here and he’s damn sure worth signing.
  • On the flipside, and still going with what my eyes tell me as opposed to plugging the Bronte 5000 super-computer with data, I’m thinking the only reason Benoit Pouliot is still around is because there’s no way to move his contract with the way he’s playing right now. 

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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  • passenger

    Way off topic, but am I alone in thinking the Hype Machine was working much harder for Tavares and Stamkos prior to the draft? In my lifetime* of watching this stuff, my list of players inciting collective media hysteria has McDavid at 6th, as follows:

    1. Lindros (no hype since has even been close, and pre-internet!)

    2. Crosby

    3. Daigle

    4. Tavares

    5. Stamkos

    6. McDavid

    *again, just my lifetime since I became a sentient observer, somewhere late 80’s/early90’s

    • socaldave

      You are indeed all alone. Like, on an island. Like the guy from The Martian levels of alone. I live in LA, so am forced to get most of my hockey media from other places/cities, and EVERYBODY is talking McDavid. Doesn’t matter the team being discussed, the player, whatever – almost every conversation works its way ’round to #97.

      • passenger

        Oh, I know that he’s a huge topic of conversation and the next face of the NHL, that just underscored my point…those other guys were “riding a wave of hype and hoopla” far greater than his.

        I don’t say this as a reflection of him as a player, not even close, I was just reacting to the above quote in Brownlee’s post. The Lindros pre-draft hype was absolutely insane. He was everywhere. Remember?

        Another aside, I lived there for 5 years…I’ve got one huge Oil fan buddy down there. Take the Vermont exit off the 10 and stick your head out the window after a goal. You’ll hear him.

        • Not my impression at all. Tavares, Stamkos, and Daigle had nowhere near the hype Mcdavid had. None of them were considered generational talents, they were seen as really good first overall picks, but nobody was hyperventilating over them like Mcdavid.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    McDavid is finally getting teammates that can pick up the slack when he’s not dominating.

    But how about that steal and “almost goal” last night from McDavid? I jumped out of my seat.

  • RJ

    Remember when MacT’s improvement plan was to expect that his $6m men would improve, only they never really did?

    Seems worth mentioning given they finally have an elite player who keeps getting better.

  • Leef O'Golin

    D-men points are trending up as well. By my count we’re at 55 after 37 games, which is slightly ahead of last year’s pace which totaled 102 pts from the blue line. Nice work.

  • Natedogg

    Conner is beyond words, but if we make the playoffs maybe “Hart Trophy Winner” will suffice. PS- The Great One’s birthday is Jan. 26 (same as my mom).

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    The only thing I wish Connor would do better is shoot more. However, this seems to come with experience more than anything. He has 40+ goals per season ability.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    We Need another piece. [ Yeah that kind too]
    Probably a couple I just don’t know where its more vital right now. In order of importance in my opinion.

    1. Back up Tender
    2. Quarterback RH Point.
    3. Vet RH Winger with Speed for Connor.

    Thoughts ?

    • List of upcoming free agents:

      I think a back up goalie should be no problem, and that’s to say nothing of internal options like Broissoit or Ellis.

      RHD that can quaterback a PP pretty much does not exist. And not even in UFA, like in the league those are unicorns. Maybe CO trades Barry, but that won’t happen till off season because of expansion draft. And even then they will ask for minimum Nuge. Best shot imo is Stone from Arizona. Impressive numbers last year. Still young, big, could maybe get him at the deadline, then resign him after the expansion for not too much given his low numbers this year. 3 mill for 3 years or something. That is the best I can come up with. If you have a better idea, please elaborate.

  • The hot start was good, the team looked a little shaky through November which was to be expected given it was a really tough schedule. Early December the team was kind of coming out of the November haze and got hit with a few injuries. But then through the last half of December the team has been real strong. I think they will falter again at some point, but unless *knock on wood, crosses fingers, prays to all Gods* Talbot gets injured, then I think we are looking at playoffs. I can’t see the Oilers falling far enough down the ladder that they have to fight LA and Calgary for a wild card spot. Especially not Calgary.

    LA has serious injuries to Quick and Triffoli, and Kopitar is struggling.

    Calgary is minus 9 on goal differential, and there best players has like 25 points. That’s just not a playoff recipe. But even if one of those teams do come back, and Edmonton has to fight for a wild card, well Nashville and Winnipeg have been struggling. And Dallas has both injuries, and poor goal tending and defense.

    So, who had Oilers make the playoffs this year? Speak up now and rejoice for the dark ages are over.

  • Petrolero

    I think Arizona may be interested in puliot. Pronger’s contract is up at the end of this season so they’ll be looking to take on cap space to reach the cap floor. They’re also very analytics focused and poo is supposed to be good for those numbers.

    • dsanchez1973

      That might have been the case in the past, but even by advanced stats, Pouliot is having a weak year – around 8th/9th among Oiler forwards in most possession stats despite facing lesser competition and having slightly favorable zone starts. I don’t think he’s having a year that’s endearing him to anyone – eye test guys or analytics guys.

    • Before the season ended in 2015, the team was abysmal. Mac T went on record and in the same 20 seconds said he would feel comfortable going into next year with a young D core (Nikitin, Schultz, no more Petry, Klefbom, Ference, Hunt). And that next year was going to be another development year.

      Before the season had even closed, Mac T was already promising another failed year. I think it was like that day Nichols was hired to do an audit. Not a few weeks later, Edmonton won the lottery, fired Mac T, hired Chi, and very soon after that hired McLellan and moved Lowe out of the front office.

      That was the TSN turning point. Hearing all hope was lost because management was clearly inept. The rebuild had failed. Then, the hockey Gods basically saying, not today. And here we are, looking at not just trying to make the playoffs, but actually competing when (not if) the team gets there. What a turn around.

    • S cottV

      MacT’s biggest blunder (among a number of blunders) was in my opinion – Eakins.

      But – it did lead to McD, so all’s well that may end up well. But that was painful. The swarm – lol…

      While we aren’t ready to make a splash in the playoffs, it would be good for the experience.

      The longer Quick is out, the more it’s a possibility.

      Something tells me – it will come down to the wire. Make or break for the last wild card, in the final week of the schedule.

      ANA, LAK,

  • Boom or Bust

    Its an amazing year. No doubt all of us wanted progress…I wanted to place 20 or above…that would of been a successful year to me…but Were we are at…and how we are playing…just wow man.

  • tileguy

    Why can’t plus 10 be written like plus 10 instead of plus-10, same with minus-42. Drives me nuts in the + – caragories s Justin Shultz is playing at a plus-22.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    I want to send Vancouver into 2019 tomorrow not 2017. They are due for an Oiler assault. For the first time In years , the Boys smell Blood.

    No more losing to crap. Start Tomorrow.

    5-2 Oilers.

  • camdog

    14-4-4 against the west this season. This needs to be repeated over and over again. A lot of people still don’t believe it but it’s there for everybody to see.

  • paul wodehouse

    …good gawd he looks good in that sweater…no better years than the 80s…haven’t even read your great idea (full season) piece Robin Brownlee but please let me say to you and your wife and Sam>>> have a SAFE and HAPPY NEW YEAR …oh and to each and every one of your 3 dozen fans!