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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid talks contract negotiations, Draisaitl, expectations, and more

Over at Sportsnet, Shawn McKenzie spoke to Connor McDavid at the BioSteel Camp about everything from Oilers 2017-18 expectations to contract negotiations to his excitement about working with Leon Draisaitl to build something beautiful. 

As we all know, Connor knocked his sophomore season out of the park with 100 points and a trip to the playoffs, but how can he get even better? When asked if he’s doing anything different to build off of last year’s century season, he said:

“You can always change things, but, for me, I’ve stuck with what I’ve done for the past few summers. I’m lucky to be surrounded by some great hockey minds and training minds.”

So no changes, huh? No new breakfast foods? Not even new sheets or something? Give us a scoop here, Connor.

“Why change if you’re surrounded by the best?”

Fair enough. I can barely walk up a flight of stairs without getting tired so I’m going to take your word on this one. I’ll just go on assuming that you’re working way harder than I ever have and leave it at that.

On the Oilers using last year’s success to motivate them…

While we fans know that making the second round of the playoffs doesn’t land anywhere close to a finish line, it is interesting to hear what the players think. I want to know whether last season’s playoff mini-run was just as much a tease for the players as it was for the fans.

“This year was only a little taste.”

Mmm… Yes, Connor. YES. Tell me that you want more than just a playoff appearance. Say it slowly, sexy.

“It made everyone hungrier and wanting to go further.”

Mmmmm… Tell me more about this year. Tell me more.

“The way the city responded makes coming back exciting and fun. Everyone is looking forward to getting back and trying to make the playoffs again.”

And we’re looking forward to having you guys back! The city is 58% sexier when the Oilers are in town and I don’t think anyone would argue against that. It’s science. You wouldn’t argue with science, would you? Of course not.

On the Oilers being a Stanley Cup contender…

As he’s probably been asked hundreds of times this offseason, Connor was probed about whether or not he feels that the Oilers are Stanley Cup contenders. From where I blog, he nailed the answer.

“I’m not going to comment on that.”

But why not, Connor? Teach the people.

“We know we have a good team – we showed that last year – and it’s up to us to reestablish ourselves.”

Agreed on all counts so far. Go on.

“Realistically we still haven’t done anything in the league. We made the second round and that’s great, but that’s not what hockey is about.”

Ah… They haven’t won anything, he says. That’s what I’m talking about. I love seeing the captain acknowledge that making the second round of the playoffs ain’t shit in the grand scheme of things. Win or GTFO right, Connor? Horse before cart — all that stuff.

“It’s about winning and we have a long way to go to do that.”

YES! I’ll take this kind of real talk over the “we think we can make noise” drivel that’s been spewed around here over the decade of darkness. Making the playoffs is one thing, but winning it all is the goal. Be still my heart.

On his contract and Draisaitl being signed for eight years…

One of my favourite things on the planet was the tinfoil hat saltiness from other fans about the Oilers being unable to sign McDavid to a long term deal. Remember the lottery day? There were all kinds of theories that he didn’t like it here, and body language experts that were certain that he was going to bail on the city that drafted him. Now that he’s locked up for the next nine years, Connor McDavid admits that he’s happy to not have to worry about it.

“I’m never jealous of the guys that are going through all the media stuff when it comes to contracts.”

Media stuff? What ever do you mean?

“I’m close with Stamkos – I train with Stamkos – and watched him go through that last summer… I was not jealous. I think that it’s not very fun and can wear on you, so I’m happy not to deal with that.”

Wait a minute… What pressure did Stamkos go through? There was definitely no hype around his signing so I don’t know what he’s talking about. OH WAIT THERE WERE LITERALLY 9000 ARTICLES WRITTEN ABOUT HIM JOINING THE LEAFS JUST BECAUSE HE WAS FROM ONTARIO. DO YOU MEAN THAT KIND OF MEDIA STUFF, CONNOR?!? DO YOU MEAN HOW PEOPLE FREAKED OUT WHEN STAMKOS LIKED A TWEET AND THINGS LIKE THAT?! Thanks for pushing him into our arms even further, Toronto. Pretty big of you guys to do that. LAWLZ.

Anyway…

When asked about Leon Draisaitl being back in the mix for the next eight years, McDavid wasn’t shy with his excitement.

“It’s so exciting that he’s back and there for eight years and I get to play with him for a long time and work together towards something great.”

When Connor is excited, I’m excited. Not to mention, how great is it to have these two guys locked in during their prime? Not only are Oilers fans excited, the NHL was even pumping our tires when they had both McDavid and Draisaitl in their list of Top 20 centremen. That’s the kind of one-two punch that can scratch the itch around here and I’m pumped to have them both locked in.

On the Oilers moving out of the league basement…

One of the biggest stories from the 2016-17 season was finally seeing the Oilers ascend from the league’s basement and make their triumphant return to the NHL playoffs. How did it happen? As always, Connor has the answers.

“I think what you’re seeing now is the product of some good decisions. We hired a great coaching staff, a great head coach, and a great GM.”

So what you’re saying is the old boys club wasn’t getting the job done? If so, say absolutely nothing at all. Cool. Got it. *taps nose*

“They’ve made some changes that have been ballsy changes but have definitely worked out.”

#BallsyChanges

“What you’re seeing is a great collection of hockey minds that have put together a pretty good team, that are good people as well. I think that’s an important thing.”

I’m probably reading way too much into this but I do find it interesting that Connor mentioned the quality of the individuals that make up a team as well as their skill. For conspiracy loving fans like yours truly, these kinds of comments add weight to the idea that there was something off with the makeup of the team and that it had to be addressed. It’s either that or he just made an innocuous comment that doesn’t really mean much of anything. Either way works for me.

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    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Leaf fans when the chance of Stamkos coming to the Leafs was strong….”oooo, he’s a generational talent, i hope we can get him, one step closer to the cup, yadda yadda….” when they heard he wasn’t coming….”we don’t need him, he doesn’t fit in age wise, we can’t afford him, yadda yadda….” LOL

  • DerpSolo

    I remember sportsnet absolutely losing its sh*t when it was rumoured Stamkos was interested in the leaves. So funny now to look back at the foolish articles 😂

    • Derian Hatcher

      A lot of people seem to enjoy hacking on Edmonton as a city. I have spent a lot of time in TO. I will never understand why some people brag about that city. Smogville on many days. Just the experience in the airport on connections to the US is enough to make me never want to live there. To each their own, as some people love The Big Smoke, but I think between Stamkos’ decision and Connor’s comments (and decision to sign for the maximum 8 years), it can be argued that The Center of the Universe is NOT the preferred destination of every hockey player.

      Now, before all the trolls pile on to say how bad Edmonton is (I know Edm has it’s warts), I am just saying that Edmonton has some great attractions, characteristics, and people. Seems two of the top 20 centers in the NHL see it that way as well.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          but Edmonton sucks because it doesn’t have an ocean, mountain or great lake close to it so there’s “nothing” to do there, haven’t you heard???

      • SaltNPeca

        Born and bred Edmonton boy who’s lived away from Edmonton for 7+ years now. Yes I enjoy my current life and city and am not planning to move back. Some things I really like about Edmonton:
        > Yeah it’s legit winter in the winter time. These humans overcome the elements and thrive. It also means I can literally pickup my gear and play shinny at virtually any moment.
        > Hockey is #1. The people actually play hockey, skate, have their kids in hockey, etc. The Oiler fans are hockey fans first and foremost.
        > Edmontonians are actually humble and typically blue-collar types.
        > Private season ticket ownership is high. Fans tolerated, watched, and hoped throughout the dark periods. except for maybe the lockout and jersey throwing .
        > While you hear a lot of talk from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver about liberalism I found Albertans and Edmontonians are simply good people regardless of politics or stereotypes. LGBT, immigrants, working class, various religions, etc are welcomed and treated as humans. The old redneck stereotypes actually don’t apply.

        Please don’t change Edmonton.

  • OldOilFan

    McD is the league’s no.1 attraction, but he hasn’t [yet] taken the growth step that Gretzky did, i.e. when Gretz started to “curl up” between the goal line and faceoff dot on rushes, and later when he started to set up behind the net…

    Connor is a different player, of course. Personally, I think we could see him post 25G + 100A this year – if only he will vary his trademark speed-demon rush to the net, every now and then. Anyone else thinking the same as me?

    • DerpSolo

      I think Gretzky to McDavid comparisons need to stop. Two different players, who played in different eras of the game. But I do envision Connor scoring more goals this year using his speed, and being a bit more greedy, utilizing his shot more

    • That's My Point

      Gretzky was doing the curl because he was slowing down and wasn’t fast enough to beat the defencemen; this curl slowed the play down and the opposition came backchecking and the rush was then over except for maybe a slapshot from the point. Once Gretz was traded the team speed picked up and the rushes went right to the net instead of the curl to wait for everyone else to join in. IMHO

    • Dr

      This is what makes me so excited about McDavid. He’s only 20, already has one Art Ross trophy to his credit, and he will still develop and get better. When he learns how to be more unpredictable (even more so), and learns the tendencies of teams and d-men, he is going to be even better. Hard to believe sometimes…

  • Hockeyfan

    How funny will it be if/when, the big lotto welfare cheque that is mcd gets hurt or Talbot goes down or plays bad, or drai has a bad year. Last year was a fluke, lucky if the welfare coil make the playoffs. lack of depth will do that, especially when 1 manchild does ALL the scoring. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHHHHHHH.

    • The Dave

      Honestly I don’t know if you think you are funny or doing any real trolling or upsetting any Oiler fans, but I kinda feel sorry for you.
      I mean, you’re pretty disconnected from reality. You don’t make anyone here angry or annoyed really, but I think you are kinda making us all feel bad for you and look down on you. The Flames made the playoffs by snagging the last spot in the division, got swept, and you’re trash talking a 100+ point team that went 7-6 in the playoffs… it’s weird. It’s not like we won the cup, but we got to watch our team win some playoff games.

      Also: You always talk about welfare picks like we should be ashamed about it or something, but it was a lottery, and we won it. About as much credit goes to us (and every other team in that lottery) as we would deserve for winning or losing a coin flip. That was the only way to get Connor McDavid. And we won it. Sometimes you get dealt a 2-7 offsuit, and sometimes you get pocket aces. Ain’t our fault we got the good hand, but it would be our fault if we didn’t enjoy it, or let a butt-hurt Calgarian make us feel guilty about winning a perfectly fair game of luck that everyone agreed on.

      So I guess what I’m trying to say is try not to bank too much on what you’re trying to do here, or on the Oilers not doing well in the upcoming 9 or so years, because I don’t think that’s a great plan, and neither do the odds-makers in Vegas. Maybe a new hobby is in order. When the cup finally comes back home to Canada it would be a shame if you weren’t able to enjoy it if the Oilers are the ones that did it.

      • DerpSolo

        @the Dave, don’t feed the troll. Everything that spews out of stickhandlers mouth is as good as what comes spewing out of his ass. Just let him embarrass himself, he’s a natural at. Great roast man

      • Hockeyfan

        it would be a disgrace if the coil won the cup after being a welfare team for a decade. i would rather see Pheonix win. if coil won, i would use the cup as a toilet. Stay welfare proud league leaches.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            oh oh, sounds like Hockeyfan has come to the conclusion that the Oilers are actually going to win the cup before the Lames ever do, thank you for that by the way!, and is trying to make us feel guilty if we do so he can feel better, but….i will party and dance all night long WHEN we do and will have no guilt or shame when it happens !!!

        • Shameless Plugger

          We sucked for ten years and in one playoff season matched the fLames total series victories over that decade. Get a clue bud. Your team was, is and will be mediocre at best for the foreseeable future, and maybe just maybe they will be able to get out of the first round. Been there done that. See Oilers teams of late 90’s early 00’s.

      • Hockeyfan

        when the coil won mcd, they had 62 lousy tanking points that season, after picking top 5 for 5 years running, with 3 of those 1st o/alls. a disgraceful franchise who set dozens of futility records the past 10 years. welfare team. Stay welfare proud.

        • Oil DAWG

          You really have an obsession with Welfare. You use it in every post… God help you if you ever should need it… the way you talk… probably will be soon!!

          • singlemalt

            I think he is already on welfare for the brain. What in the world is a welfare team for a decade mean??? The poor bugger lives in an alternative reality where there is welfare in the NHL. I can’t stop laughing!!

  • madjam

    With our youth just getting their feet wet last year , you wonder just how high them and rest of team will climb . Will we see a team have 5 or 6 players in top 10 scoring in the near future ? I see plenty of potential progression that might unfurl . Look up , as it’s only in it’s infancy as of last year and growing mightily . If I am wrong I will spend a good portion of winter in Arizona as punishment .

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      it’s amazing to see how good this team can be in the future when our kids have some seasons under their belts….not just McJesus and Leon, but Klefbom, Nurse, Benning, Slepy, Caggiula, Puljujarvi, and soon enough….Benson and Yamamoto. such a bright future, Lames fans should be worried !!!

  • Connor McDavid’s leadership here in saying they haven’t done anything yet really sets the tone and bar to the top. His comments on management and coaching prove he believes in their decisions because he’s seeing the net positive results. There’s a lot of love on that team now and it’s great to see again.