The NHL season is rapidly approaching. Rookie tournaments begin next weekend, training camps open up the following weekend and the Oilers play two preseason games versus the Calgary Flames on Monday September 18th. In anticipation of another season, we will discuss a different question every day until the season.
This year the analysis of the Oilers is much different. There aren’t ten “what if” scenarios that could make the Oilers a contender. They are a good team, and most of their best players are still very young with room to improve and grow. They will be competitive, and today’s question will focus on their best player, Connor McDavid.
McDavid had an incredible sophomore season. He led the NHL in scoring with 100 points and led the Oilers to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. He won the Art Ross Trophy, The Hart and the Ted Lindsay Award.
It was an excellent campaign, but McDavid is far from satisfied. He wants to improve his shot, be better in faceoffs and be more dominant in the playoffs. The scary thing for the rest of the NHL, and great news for Oilersnation and the Oilers, is he has only played 140 NHL regular season and playoff games. He isn’t even in his prime yet.
McDavid will try to become the first player since Jaromir Jagr (1998-2001) to lead the NHL in scoring in consecutive seasons. He’ll try to be the first since Alex Ovechkin, in 2008 and 2009, to win consecutive Hart Trophies. Sidney Crosby was the last player to win consecutive Ted Lindsay Awards in 2013 and 2014.
Of course his bigger goal will be going deeper in the playoffs, but the regular season occurs before the playoffs, so he’ll be able to challenge for the aforementioned three awards before switching his focus to a deep playoff run.
The best players are always challenging themselves, and while he might not say it publicly, you know he’d love to win the trifecta again. He is good enough to be a legitimate contender for all three.
How good can he be? It is hard to say.
I felt he got better as the season progressed, and in March with the Oilers pushing for a playoff spot, McDavid was outstanding. He finished the season with 25 points in his final 14 games. That is a 146 point-pace over an entire season. I’d love to see any player produce that many points, but I think it might be a stretch to see him do so this season.
Which leads to today’s question.
How many points will McDavid score this season?
In his rookie season, he had 48 points in 45 games, which prorates to 87 in a full season. He scored 100 in 82 games last year. He averaged 1.06 points-per-game as a rookie and 1.21 last year.
If he improves by .15 PPG again this year he’d score 112 points. Before I started this article and researching many factors, 112 points was the first number that popped in my head.
Henrik Sedin in 2010 was the last player to reach 112 points. Evgeni Malkin had 113 in 2009.
Crosby was the last player to reach 120 points, which he achieved in 2007, his second season in the NHL.
I believe 112 is very realistic, but the more I look at every factor, I believe McDavid has a good chance to reach 120.
He spent a lot of time working on his shot and shooting in motion. He will be a more dangerous shooter this year.
He had 251 shots last year, 17th most, and of the 26 players who scored 30+ goals, only Alex Oveckin, 10.5% and Patrick Kane, 11.6%, had a lower shooting percentage than McDavid’s 12.0%.
Oveckin had 33 goals on 313 shots while Kane scored 34 goals on 292 shots.
I believe McDavid will have more SOG and a higher SH% this year. I see him scoring 43 goals.
Another reason 120 points is plausible is because of overall scoring in the NHL.
Last season individual teams averaged 2.77 goals/game, the highest since 2.79 in 2011.
When Sedin scored 112 in 2010 teams averaged 2.84. If the NHL creeps up to 2.80 this season, which is possible considering it was 2.71 in 2016 and 2.77 last year, a slight increase to 2.80 isn’t out of the question.
I’d argue McDavid is better than Sedin, so expecting a few more points from McDavid in a year where offence is similar to 2010 is realistic. Vancouver scored 268 goals in 2010, and Sedin was in on 41.8% of them.
The Oilers scored 243 last year and McDavid was in on 41.1%. Edmonton’s best forwards are still developing and having them score 260+ goals this year is reasonable.
When Crosby tallied 120 points in 2008, he was in on 50% of the Penguins’ 240 goals. And the Penguins were a Cup Finalist in 2008. Dominant players can lead a team and play a large role in their success as Crosby and Malkin did in 2009 when the Pens won the Cup.
Some people have written and said McDavid’s production covered up many weaknesses of the Oilers, but the reality is when a truly great offensive player is on your team, the are heavily involved in goals. When the Oilers won their first Cup in 1984, Wayne Gretzky was in on 46% of their regular season goals. When they won their second Cup the next season, Gretzky was in on 51.8% of their goals.
I don’t recall many saying the rest of the team was weak. They had many other dominant players, but Gretzky was simply outstanding.
I think it is very possible that the Oilers will be a better team this year, and McDavid will actually be involved in a higher percentage of their goals than he was last year.
My original answer was going to be 112 points, but after looking at past seasons, other elite players and scoring overall, I am going with 120 points for McDavid.
How many do you think he will score, and why?
***I don’t see the need to mention, if he his healthy. We all know if any player misses significant time his point total is lower.**
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