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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Top 100 Oilers: Connor McDavid (7B)

On one hand, it could be argued it’s just short of ridiculous that Connor McDavid would be ranked in the top 10 on a list of the Top 100 Edmonton Oilers of all time after just 140 games in the NHL. In a city that has celebrated five Stanley Cups, what has McDavid won? In a city where Wayne Gretzky played, it seems premature to have McDavid within a $5 cab ride of the Great One on this list. I certainly thought so when I started it 24 months ago.

But, given what we’ve seen in those 140 games, I’m convinced McDavid belongs in the same company as Gretzky and five other HHOF players who won all those Cups. Ten or 15 years from now, he might be four or five spots higher. We’ll have to see about that. What I do know now is the image of a once great franchise that had been tarnished by a decade of failure and ineptitude took on a shine again on April 18, 2015, when the Oilers won the NHL draft lottery and the right to select McDavid first overall. On that day, everything changed.

Connor McDavid

Center — shoots L
Born Jan 13 1997 — Richmond Hill, ONT
Height 6.01 — Weight 190 [185 cm/86 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 1 #1 overall 2015 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2015-16

19

EDM

45

16

32

48

-1

18

105

15.2

850

18:53

2016-17

20

EDM

82

30

70

100

27

26

251

12.0

1733

21:08

Career

127

46

102

148

26

44

356

12.9

2582

20:20

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2016-17

20

EDM

13

5

4

9

3

2

37

13.5

291

22:25

Career

13

5

4

9

3

2

37

13.5

291

22:25

AWARDS

2016-17 Art Ross Trophy

2016-17 Hart Memorial Trophy

2016-17 Ted Lindsay Award

NOTABLE

January 25, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) moves in for a shot on goal against the defense of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (4) during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In compiling this list, team success, Stanley Cup rings, weighed as heavily for me as anything. That’s why I’ve ranked some players higher on this list, even if they played secondary roles, than others who were clearly more talented and who had better numbers but never won anything. The seven players I have ranked ahead of McDavid on this list have a combined 32 Stanley Cup rings. Five of them have five rings each. Six of them are in the HHOF.

So, given all the silverware gathered by those above him, not to mention enough individual awards to fill a moving truck, what is McDavid doing here less than two full seasons and just two playoff rounds into his career? Well, in a hockey city where the last Cup was won seven years before McDavid was born, a hockey city rich in superlatives, No. 97 already has managed a few of his own. Just as significant, McDavid has put some swagger back in the step of fans around here after some truly dark days.

McDavid scored 30-70-100 last season to claim the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader. He is Edmonton’s first Art Ross winner since Gretzky won it in 1987. He became the first Oiler to reach 100 points since Doug Weight in 1995-96. McDavid’s Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP was the first since Mark Messier did it in 1990. When he was named captain on Oct. 5, 2016, McDavid became the youngest captain in NHL history. It has been, to say the least, a noteworthy 140 games.

THE STORY

Mar 30, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

How many Stanley Cups will McDavid win in Edmonton? How will he stack up statistically to the likes of Gretzky, Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson by the time he’s done? I don’t have the answers, but with McDavid having just signed an eight-year contract extension worth $100 million, we’ve got lots of time to find out. The kid is 20. For my money, he’s the best player in the game right now. He’s got a decade of prime time ahead.

How great McDavid might become remains to be seen. Right now, he’s the most exciting player in the game. He sells tickets in every rink. He’s been the single biggest factor in the Oilers returning to contention after being also-rans for far too long. With McDavid, a talented young core and a great new building, how many unrestricted free agents now consider Edmonton an attractive destination? This used to be the Last Chance Motel. Not now. GM Pete Chiarelli won’t have to assume the position and beg UFAs to pretty please come to Edmonton the way Craig MacTavish, Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe did.

I refuse to draw any hard comparisons between McDavid and the Oiler team that is taking shape now and the great teams of the Boys on the Bus era led by Gretzky. I don’t imagine we will ever see the likes of them again in today’s NHL. Unless I’m mistaken, you’ve got to win one Cup before you can win five. That said, hopes are as high as they’ve been around this hockey town in three decades and from where I sit the best player on the planet is again draped in Edmonton silks. Let’s see where that takes us.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.

 

PREVIOUSLY:

  • Mitch92

    Ranking CMD just outside of the 80’s Gretzky lead dynasty group makes perfect sense at this point. It is easy to predict that he will eventually join that group of upper echelon players once he returns the Oilers to glory by winning the Stanley Cup, hopefully multiple times. Until then he can remain outside looking in. You have to have something to work for!

  • Spydyr

    Us older folks were lucky enough to watch the Greatest hockey player ever play for their team in his prime. Now we get to watch McDavid for the next nine years. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Still can’t believe he plays for the Oil…The decade of darkness will fade quickly to a distant memory. Just like the 90’s….call them the “Blah Years”.(Compared to the 80’s anyway)

  • Frank Linkesch

    Hey Robin, I love reading this series so much. One question: If you had to start it now, would Leon Draisaitl make the Top 100? And where would he fit in? Greetings from Germany, I am looking forward to reading Lowe, Anderson, Fuhr, Coffey, Kurri, Messier and Gretzky

  • OilCan2

    CMD deserves to be a single digit member of this list. The Oilers have a rich history of excellence and now with Connor as Captain they have an exciting future as well.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Any contention of McDavid’s position on such a list points to the limits of top 100 lists rather than the qualities of McDavid or any of the Boys on the Bus.
    In the earlier Randy Gregg post’s comments, RB makes the (entirely reasonable) argument that ” Stanley Cup success plays into things heavily . . . [i]f individual talent and statitistics were my first measures, this list would look much different . . .” But here RB’s reversed his own list’s logic/ criteria: no Stanley Cup victories and a clear instance of outstanding individual talent and statistics.”
    What’s a listmaker to do? Top 100 lists are great for clicks but not so great for consistency.

    Here’s a (tough) question: Ultimately, if Gretzky, Messier, or Kurri never play another game, their position on the list won’t change by more than a position or two, but if McDavid were to never play another game (gord forbid) what would his place be on the list? Because that’s got to be the McDavid you’re assessing, no? Would he be top ten? Perhaps, but he’s the only player being evaluated on future results, and most folks who know would say that past performances do not guarantee future results.
    I’m not arguing against potential McDavid greatness, I’m only saying that according to the criteria offered (see Gregg post) McDavid doesn’t make the top ten.

    • Redbird62

      Actually I think RB is being reasonably consistent with his personal list of top 100 (+1). While he indicated Cups were a valuable criteria, they are not the only criteria. Thus a guy like Chris Pronger, who played only 1 year here and only got to the cup final, is ranked ahead of several who won multiple cups with the Oilers as role players, but he was fantastic that year and was the biggest reason, followed closely by Roloson, why the Oilers got to the finals. That one year of performance got him sandwiched between Steve Smith and Randy Gregg in RB’s eyes. Weighting between cups versus individual performance is subjective, but I guess as a fan, do I appreciate what Connor did over the past 2 years more than say Esa’s contribution to the Oiler’s dynasty. I personally would take watching Connor this past season, since I believe the Oilers would have won those Cups with whoever his replacement would have been.

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Well, Pronger did carry the team on his back to game seven of the Stanley Cup finals. Less than a handful of Oilers have done that. McDavid may (and probably will–gord willing) but until then, folks like Pronger got one up on him as a Top Oiler.
        I return to the question: if McDavid were to never play another game (gord forbid) what would his place be on the list? He’s the only player for whom the future is more important in his placement than his actual achievements. The problem with that is it’s a logic that’s not been applied to (for example) Draisaitl, Lucic, Larsson, or Klefbom–all players who could be top 100 Oilers if the same future-focused criterion were applied to their careers. Actually any player could be on the list using a future-outcomes based approach to the “achievements” that merit his place on the list.

        I guess what I’m saying is that Top 100 players is a troubled concept because we easily run into massive exceptions to the rule like McDavid and Pronger. Not to mention that 7b is a bit of a cheat because we’re now looking at 101 players in the top 100.

        Serious question: does a 40 goal rookie make the Leafs top 100?

        • Redbird62

          Any top 100 list not based on objective statistics is subject to debate. And because RB is publishing it over almost a 2 period, it was out of date before he was half way through. He even conceded he was making an exception for Connor sometime back in the Spring, by squeezing him on to a list he assembled in the summer of 2016. I think RB expects people to differ from him on where people would personally rank individual players. I guess because he laid out what he was doing with this list only back in the first column its easy for people to lose sight of his intent. My recollection is its the Brownlee TOP 100 Oilers not the official Top 100 Oilers and people were encouraged to agree or not. Hell, we couldn’t get Oilernation to agree on the order of the top 10 Oilers from the 2016-17 season other than McDavid almost certainly being number 1.
          On your question though, I have not seen or studied the Leafs enough to formulate my own Top 100, but I can see some Leafs fans putting him on their list. And of course their glory years spanned the original 6 era, not a lot of current fans can make a comprehensive comparison.

          • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            My question about Matthews has an obvious answer for most Leaf fans: hell no. And that’s because it’s too early to tell where he’ll end up. For me, that’s a fair and reasonable reservation. At the same time, he did win the Calder and 40 goals is 40 goals, which is a lot today. In other words, he’s got loads of promise to be a great player and I’m pretty sure that he’s a big part of the Shanaplan and won’t be traded any time soon, but I still don’t think he’s close to a Top 100 Leaf. Not yet. I’d apply that logic to McDavid as well–perhaps as much promise as any player since Mario and yet so much remains in the realm of promise.
            Personally, I hope that RB has to rewrite this list in 5 years and include folks like Klef, Drai, Looch, Maroon and Larsson among others in a new top 20 because of the new Stanley Cup banners, but until that happens, I’m not sure I’d put those players on the top 100. Not yet, but hopefully soon.

    • McDavid has already impacted this franchise in a way many players have not just by being here. When did this city last feel as it does now about this team? The Art Ross, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay rank a fair bit higher than just “individual talent.” When is the last time any Oiler won any one of those trophies, let alone all three in a season? There is no inconsistency here.

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Here’s the inconsistency: Regarding the logic for the list and specifically for Randy Gregg’s position in it you say, ”Stanley Cup success plays into things HEAVILY . . . [i]f individual talent and statitistics were my first measures, this list would look much different . . .” (EMPHASIS mine) Whereas in your comment here you cite McDavid’s winning the Art Ross, Hart and Ted Lindsay trophies–all individual awards.”

        That’s counter to your argument regarding Gregg’s position. And of course these individual awards are all measures of individual talent; don’t kid yourself and don’t think that anyone else believes that these aren’t individual awards that recognize individual talent. So, that’s the opposite of what you said about your logic for Gregg’s ranking, and further proof comes in recognizing that Hart and Norris winner Pronger (who carried the team on his back during the 06 run) ranks below Gregg–how does that make sense based on what your now saying about McDavid? It doesn’t make obvious sense.

        Further inconsistency comes across when you write things like: “How many Stanley Cups WILL McDavid win in Edmonton? How WILL he stack up statistically . . . by the time he’s done? I don’t have the answers” and “How great McDavid might become REMAINS TO BE SEEN” (EMPHASIS mine).

        For no other player in the Top 100 (101 actually) is there a mention of what they MIGHT do but haven’t done–only for McDavid do you focus on future outcomes. Like it or not, the fair comparison is with what the player has accomplished to-date, not what a player may accomplish within the next 20 years. Otherwise, I could tell you about a 13 year old guitarist who’s better than Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page and all the other Jimmys, but who might never make it in my top 10 guitarists of all time.

        But honestly, I’ve got no bone to pick about Gregg being where he is or McDavid being where he is–they’re both great examples of what it takes to win the game and I’ve got great respect for them both–at the same time the logic of the list (any list) takes a hit when the criteria for one pick (e.g. Gregg) is different than the criteria for other picks (eg. Pronger or McDavid) and when one pick is significantly based on things he’s not actually even done (McDavid).

        We could reasonably call the list “A Bunch of Oilers that RB Really Likes and You Should Too.” And there’s nothing wrong with that. Hell, there’s nothing wrong with your list–I love the players you’ve shone a light on, particularly the ones we may tend to forget or need a reminder on, but the numbering of them doesn’t really matter or help beyond a certain point.
        You’re about to get into the question of is Kurri better than Messier? or is Coffey better than Fuhr? etc. And the answer is yes and no. The number won’t matter in the end.

        Ultimately my argument is more a philosophical one. I don’t think the force ranking a list of athletes, guitarists, movies, or works of art or literature means a lot in terms of their actual ranking. The value is in the conversation that they compel, not the actual rank. In that respect, I could care less about the actual numbers and don’t find them particularly helpful while at the same time this work adds a lot to the community for purposes of discussion. I thank you for that.

        • O.C.

          And this is why we have blogs. To throw out these opinions. “Who is (better, stronger, faster, a bargain)?” And who isn’t.

          There is no right or wrong here. ON’s 2 year series that RB is penning is a masterful chronology of the Oiler greats in history.

          The point isn’t “who fits where?” below the 2 greatest, but rather that they are all remembered and honoured for their contributions to Oiler lore.

          And that Oiler fans can feel honoured to have their Team have had each of these fine men battle together in the orange and blue silks.

  • singlemalt

    Loved the article Mr. Brownlee. 7B is perfect for now but hopefully he ends up at 2!! Can’t believe I got to watch Gretz and now Connor!! Life is good, very good!

          • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            Ending up in the ranks of either Messier or Gretzky puts a player up in the ranks of those who’ve won multiple Cups at least one Conn Smythe and potentially others as well as a host of individual awards from the regular season (like McDavid’s already doing), over at least 8 seasons while setting some records along the way. If ever there were a player capable of hitting those marks, it’s McDavid. Personally I hope he blows Messier and Gretzky away, and I’m pretty sure that Mess & Gretz would be happy if he did that, too.

        • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          Everything is more difficult for an individual player today regarding individual stats, except for pay checks. Notwithstanding, a player like McDavid could come close to Gretz or Messier in terms of Art Ross trophies, Hart trophies, etc., not to mention Conn Smythe and Stanley Cups. Crosby & Malkin are going for #4, as are Toews and Kane. In terms of Top 100 players all time, Crosby, Toews and Kane have been recognized by the NHL itself to be in that class. McDavid could qualify as well and in doing so approach comparable awards to Messier and possibly Gretzky. As someone once wrote, “How great McDavid might become remains to be seen.” My personal wish is that he’s better than anyone who’s ever played the game.

  • smiliegirl15

    On one hand, I am surprised at the 7B ranking but at the same time, Connor isn’t quite ready to go lower (higher?) on the list…yet. I think when all is said and done, it will be Gretzky then McDavid.

    • Jaxon

      Messier will be awfully tough to pass as well, I would think. So he could end up being 3rd. And Draisaitl might even sneak in there somewhere when all is said and done. And then there may be Doughty to consider someday, ha ha. And Talbot? Or Hall’s return?