THE WONDER YEARS

connor1

It’s not really any kind of stretch to argue that Edmonton Oilers’ centre Connor McDavid, who celebrated his 20th birthday today, is one of the best two or three forwards in the NHL right now, just one day removed from his teenaged years.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

With a couple of assists in a Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils, McDavid, after all, leads the Art Ross Trophy scoring race with 14-36-50 in just his second season and with only 89 NHL games in the record books. As good as McDavid has been, the best, common sense and history tells us, is yet to come. He’s just getting started.

Like the most prolific players over the last four decades – I’ll cite Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby as the most obvious examples – McDavid is hitting his 20s under a full head of steam, already a bonafide star and one of the best players in the game as he enters his prime production years and the sweet spot of his career.

When you couple McDavid’s unquestionable talent and his immediate impact with an Oiler team that looks to be on an rise to contention after a decade staggering around aimlessly, it’s pretty good bet that fans of No. 97 are going to have plenty to high-five and yell about over the next five to seven years, the prime of his career. I can count on one hand the players I’ve seen who’ve been this good this young.

PRIME TIME

ConnorMcDavid

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

As a rule of thumb – not to be confused with an exhaustive and definitive statistical study – NHL forwards generally begin their most productive offensive seasons in their early 20s and have a run of five, six or maybe seven years in prime time.

A rare few, like Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby and McDavid, are up to speed by age 20. Some remain very productive for longer stretches, than those prime five, six or seven years, even well into their 30s, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Here’s a look at the most productive seasons and corresponding ages for Gretzky, Lemieux and Crosby (in Crosby’s case, the most productive seasons to date).

THE GREAT ONE

Season

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

+/-

S

S%

1980-81

20

EDM

80

55

109

164

41

261

21.1

1981-82

21

EDM

80

92

120

212

81

369

24.9

1982-83

22

EDM

80

71

125

196

60

348

20.4

1983-84

23

EDM

74

87

118

205

76

324

26.9

1984-85

24

EDM

80

73

135

208

98

358

20.4

1985-86

25

EDM

80

52

163

215

71

350

14.9


THE MAGIFICENT ONE

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

S

S%

1985-86

20

PIT

79

48

93

141

-6

276

17.4

1987-88

22

PIT

77

70

98

168

23

382

18.3

1988-89

23

PIT

76

85

114

199

41

313

27.2

1992-93

27

PIT

60

69

91

160

55

286

24.1

1995-96

30

PIT

70

69

92

161

10

338

20.4

SID THE KID

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

S

S%

2005-06

18

PIT

81

39

63

102

-1

278

14.0

2006-07

19

PIT

79

36

84

120

10

250

14.4

2008-09

21

PIT

77

33

70

103

3

238

13.9

2009-10

22

PIT

81

51

58

109

15

298

17.1

2013-14

26

PIT

80

36

68

104

18

259

13.9

Simply put, players who can dominate and challenge for a scoring title by the age of 20 are few and far between, McDavid is in some select company here. Crosby won the Art Ross Trophy at 19. Of course, we’re talking different numbers from a different era with Gretzky and Lemieux, and it goes without saying McDavid won’t approach those. Nobody will.

With 20 candles blown out on the cake, it’s going to be a helluva lot of fun to watch McDavid over these next five to seven years when he’s at the height of his powers. If McDavid wins the Art Ross Trophy this season, he’ll be the first Oiler to cop the silverware since Gretzky, who claimed it 10 times. How many might McDavid have by the time he’s done?

I’LL SAY THIS ABOUT THAT

Megaphone

It’s a cheap play, but I don’t have a huge issue with the elbow Taylor Hall landed to Zack Kassian’s face in the third period Thursday. What I have an issue with is Hall’s lame “I really didn’t mean to do it” explanation afterward. His reaction on the ice when Kassian came calling was worse.

“I meant to give him a nudge, not in the face but definitely give him a nudge,” Hall said. “It just wasn’t a smart play. I definitely deserved four minutes there and if I could go and take that back, sometimes your emotions get the best of you.”

A “nudge?” Nudges don’t have opponents spitting blood, as was the case with Kassian, who picked himself up after hitting the deck on the face-off play and hunted Hall down, only to have him turtle and refuse to answer the bell for the miss-deed. Hall has to man-up there, drop the leather and square up with Kassian. Turning his back and covering his face with his gloves wasn’t a good look.

I said it last night and I’ll say it again: old school rules might have seen the linesmen, ahem, concentrate on the scrums that ensued and let Kassian pull Hall out of the pile and have a little mano-a-mano time to make his displeasure known. Incident here.

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

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  


  • The upright turtle should put an end to any and all Messier comparisons.. forever, always has been an insult to Messier and last night was just further compiled evidence.

    On McDavid…. if he stays healthy.. gonna be a fun ride.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Kassian and other Oilers based on what I saw over the last 2 games against NJ , Will not forget. Taylor is going to pay somehow.

    Cowardly act as far as I am concerned. And the first thing he did is cover his lips.

    I’m over you taytay, cant wait till Lucic , Nurse, Maroon , Kassian himself see you again.
    If your crap team is good enough maybe in the cup final.
    Its is blatantly obvious to me now there were more issues with you here.

    Good Bye , Be aware.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      Hah!

      Do you forget what Kassian did to Sam Gagner’s face? And what Kassian said to Sam Gagner afterwards?

      C’mon. In my books, Taylor Hall is now the enemy ONLY because he’s no longer wearing an Oilers jersey. In his time here, he was pure class off the ice. When he wasn’t class on the ice (remember that time he kneed Clutterbuck?), we cheered like hell for him.

      A little nastiness against Zack Kassian (who’s obviously no saint) won’t change my opinion about Taylor Hall.

      • Big Jacks Meat

        Stuff happens , I understand. I pull for my TEAM and who ever is on it. Don’t get me wrong I liked Hall as a player on OUR team and actually have his Jersey. Taylor did what he did for his team,
        good on him but someday , somewhere…
        He perhaps exacted revenge for Gagner , I doubt he would have done that to Lucic or Anyone else.
        But to Turtle…you C’mon bro.

        Very good player , didn’t get enough for him but there is a reason. Enjoy the swamp Hall.

  • 1. Star players are not expected to fight guys like Kassian. The idea that he needs to is stupid.

    2. Kassian is the last person who gets to demand someone fight him when he wants it after all the times he acted like a jackass and refused to fight anybody over it.

    • McPucker

      I would agree with #1 except considering what Hall did to Kassian, he should be prepared to answer the bell.

      Add to that, I believe it was a butt-end.

      #2 I can agree with. I’m glad Kassian didn’t ask him to dance.

      We could have heaped more blame on Kassian had the ref had his arm up to give Hall a penalty though I’m still not sure I’d blame Zack for going after him.

      That’s not a typical Hall play. Maybe or maybe not he meant to do it. I think it might have been reactionary and he didn’t intend to hit Zack like he did. I’m sure he didn’t plan on giving him a butt-end but thing is, he did.

  • Oilcounty88

    Listening to Taylor Hall talk about the loss after that game made me remember the 100 times I’ve heard him repeat the exact same thing over the past 5 seasons in edmonton. He can basically regurgitate the same well rehearsed speech over and over. “I thought we sat back in the third” “not enough compete” “we need to do a better job of simplifying our game”.

    Think Hall has a long road ahead of him in Jersey before they start competing. Hall turtled when Kassian came at him (I likely would too) but it was nice to see Nuge and Pou get into it when Eberle got hit awkwardly into the boards. Shows the character this team has in the room.

    Saturday night is going is shaping up to be a real BOA. Finally!

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      What would you like him to say then? That the Devils suck but stay in games only because of Schneider? That he’s their only offensive driver? That their defence is crap? That they have few prospects waiting in the wings?

      Seriously, what would you want him to say?

      I feel bad for him (as much as I can for a young multi-millionaire playing the game he loves). Not every team can win a Connor McDavid and trade what was once their best player to fill holes.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Hey Hall , why don’t you just turn and drop gloves with Kass , I would love to ask you that face to face.

    Your stink is now out of the dressing room for good.

    Enjoy the bottom of the standings… again.

    Look up , yes that’s the Oilers who traded your
    butt.

    Ok , I have vented enough.

  • tileguy

    Robin, why do you think Hall did what he did, and please don’t say it was payback for Gagner.

    My guess is he wanted to show the Edmonton crowd that he was a big boy and boy oh boy did that backfire!

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    MacT’s Neglected Helmet wrote:

    A little nastiness against Zack Kassian (who’s obviously no saint) won’t change my opinion about Taylor Hall.

    It’s not the nastiness, per se. It’s the refusal to back himself up after the cheap shot that then requires his team mates to take up the cause and it’s his bull sheet in the post-game chat when he says he only meant to “nudge” him.

    Add to this, the elbow to Nuge that removed Nuge’s lid and you’ve got a cheap shot artist in the making. The kid’s got talent and assets but no sense of the team part of the game or how to play well with others.

    • Haven’t 80% of the people commenting on this very site spent the last 10 years telling everyone who will listen that NHL teams need goons so guys like Hall don’t have to fight? Give it a rest. Teams don’t want to pay their star 6 million dollar players to fight. Especially not against an idiot like Kassian.

      • IUsedToBleedOilBlueButIBledOut

        Dude, the point everyone is making is that Hall took a cheap shot and didn’t have the balls to stand up for himself afterwards. Of course the star players shouldn’t fight, but that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to go around elbowing anybody they want in the face. If you are going to play that way, then you better be prepared to fight. If you want to be that soft star player who doesn’t fight, then don’t take cheap shots. Pretty simple.

      • tileguy

        Tiger

        Why do you think he took the cheap shot at Kas? What does that say about Hall? What should Kasian of done?

        My opinion, he wanted to show Edmonton that he wasn’t a soft hockey player and it backfired when Kas skated him down and Hall went into his little dance, hands protecting his face, don’t hit me, don’t hit me. The player has a character flaw.

      • Come on, man. You’re not even trying with this.

        Hall initiated this situation. When Kassian came back at him spitting blood, maybe Hall should have made a quick line change so a “goon” could come on and fight for him. Sure.

      • Randaman

        Typical Tiger response. Are you still a Flames fan? If Hall has the balls to blatantly elbow an idiot like Kassian and a friend in Nuge, then he better have the balls to back it up.

        We always wanted someone like Lucic, Marroon or Kassian to prevent cheap shots against our stars, not back up cheap shots by our stars.

        There is a difference.

      • O.C.

        TUG. Many of your posts are cerebral. Maybe not so much here.

        If you are going to goon it up as a star, you need answer the bell.

        EG Doughty. Thornton. Benn. Messier. Mahovolich. O’Reilly.

        Cheap shot and run is lacking honour.

  • Jay (not J)

    Tambo really drilled that turtle move into Hall after his ankle incident. I hated it while he was here that he wouldn’t play the physical game and I think that it had an impact on him as a leader and in the dressing room. He should have been ( I don’t want to say encouraged to fight, but)taught to at least hang in there and hold opposing players accountable for the liberties that they take. Teammates see that and they respect it and every man should at least once in their lives see the look on the face of that guy you just went to the mat for. Sam Gagner could go from hobbit to giant on the ice when the team needed it. Hall on the other hand, well he’s really got to get over that early schooling by the proudest guy to ever pick first overall. Stand up for yourself man.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    If you’re mad at Taylor Hall for not fighting Zack Kassian over a cheap shot, I suggest you use Daryl Katz’ secret time machine to travel back to 2013 to reconsider.

    There’s a classic Jerry Seinfeld joke that says sports fans are silly because they are really only cheering for jerseys and logos. Mere pieces of clothings. That’s what we spend all this stress and energy on. Not the humans that are wearing those jerseys and logos. Just pieces of clothing.

    As a sports and Oilers fan, I accept that’s usually true. It’s part of the fun to believe that your TEAM are the GOOD GUYS and the other team are the BAD GUYS. But there are certain times, like when one of your former adopted sons returns to the only town that he used to know, you need to drop that crap and recognize the individuals involved.

    I’m not excusing Hall for turtling last night. Not cool. But don’t use that one play (against frigging Kassian!) as evidence that Taylor Hall is a bad player/person.

  • OilersGM

    Connor is the best in the league no doubt especially passing the puck there is no one better. I just hope Connor practices his shot to make him even more dangerous as goalies are cheating towards the shooter McDavid is passing to.
    If he does make his shot a lethal one he will obviously score more and have more tap in setups for his teammates.
    When Crosby was out the first 6 games of the year he was practicing his shot. Trying to go bar down and snapping it as quick as possible, It shows by being the leading goal scorer to date this year. I want McDavid to score 40-50 goals a year with the Art Ross trophy.

    • Edmontonman

      I agree a bit, but he’s number one in scoring at 20 years old. Think he’s doing something right and he knows what’s the best option for every single play.

      • OilersGM

        Connor is not just the best player but the smartest as well that goes hand in hand so he does know the best option for every play, but let’s just say his breakaways how many times has he missed? Quite a bit I’d say that’s no knock on him but he would score way more.

  • Spydyr

    I for one am going to enjoy the ride. I thought watching Gretzky play for my team was a once in a lifetime opportunity. To have the pleasure of getting to live through the McDavid years should be something wonderful.

  • Spoils

    i don’t mind his statement after the game, nudge or not – he said i deserved a penalty, i shouldn’t have done it, it was dumb. pretty fair.

    the turtle though! oh gawd

    that’s like seeing your ex with a muffin top or an acne breakout or a new and really dumb tramp stamp… it’s over.

  • Oiler Al

    I bet that the boys [Hall,Nuige,Ebes,Mcdavid & Gadsik ] out for dinner the night before….Gadzik jokingly said to Hall, Iam not playng tomorow night, so I guess you will have to take care of Kass….NO PROBLEM. The task might have seemed easier with a couple of bubblies under the belt.

  • Elgando

    I’m not gonna say the Kassian deserved that shot but if you watch the video over a couple of times you’ll see that Kass tried to lift Hall’s stick and actually got his own stick up into his grill before Hall took exception. Take a look for yourselves. When Hall fired back he never even looked at where Kassian was, no aim taken.

    Either way it’s hockey and Taylor needs to drop em in a case like that, even if it’s gonna hurt for a few seconds. That turtle move was embarrassing.

  • R U Kidding Me!

    Jesus! For 4 seasons between 1981-85 Gretzky scored 323 goals in 314 games!

    That is beyond ridiculous. And people say Gretz was the best passer in the game. Try best goal scorer too.

    He really is a level above even Lemieux, Howe, Crosby etc..

  • Bubba Train

    I loved the Hall on Kassian elbow. Loved it.

    And I also love Kassian the player and wish no ill will on Zack.

    First, though intentional, i doubt Hall intends to have that effect. Doubt he has turned overnight into a cheap player.

    Why I like this play is it unintentionally has resolved the trade. For some Hall would never be good enough, he took fan abuse for years regardless of what he did. His reputation took the hit that should be on Oilers management.

    Whatever. Finally it’s as if he says F you Edmonton, and lays out one our biggest scrappers. Brilliant. And fight afterwards? Not a chance. Why give any satisfaction back?

    The bridge has been burned.

    Who else this ” may” help. Nuge, Ebs. Just a theory but I think burning this bridge and getting on with the new direction of the team.

    Sail on Taylor Hall. Break up is complete.

  • geeker99

    Taylor’s hit against clutterbuck was so close to being perfect. there was little to no payback for the hit. what Zach brings has been lacking on this team. Just hope he looks up at the clock in big games. which is every game.