Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for McDavid to shoot the puck more and dominate, says Gretzky

It took Wayne Gretzky five seasons before he won his first of his four Stanley Cups. It took Mario Lemieux seven years to hoist the first of his two Stanley Cups. It took Sidney Crosby four years to bring the cup back to Pittsburgh. As we enter year three of the McDavid era, talk of a Stanley Cup and expectations have risen, but patience is still key.

“Experience becomes a factor,” said Gretzky, who spoke to reporters in Scarborough at Jumpstarts $50 million dollar donation announcement. “I think the experience they got in playing in pressure games is going to go a long way to making this a better team.”

Getting those two playoff rounds under their belt was a huge step-forward for McDavid and the Oilers. And while number 97 notched his first 100-point campaign (and captured the Art Ross Trophy), along with the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsey Award, his development and confidence as a leader should be noted in the same class.

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The ‘C’ that McDavid wears on his chest is a testament to the night and day transition we’ve seen from the once 16-year-old camera-shy Junior phenom to a leader at the NHL level, on-and-off the ice, at 20-years-old, the age of overage players in the CHL.

“I think one of the things that make Connor (McDavid) such a wonderful player is his unselfishness,” said Gretzky.

“And he’s still a young player. And I think there are times last year that because of his youth, his respect for his teammates and the game, that he passed more than he probably should have or could have,” continued Gretzky.

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But the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner may need to get a wee bit more selfish, and develop a score-first mentality, says Gretzky.

“I expect and anticipate Connor will shoot the puck a little bit more this year. As I say to him all the time, you have the best shot on the team, shoot the puck when you get that chance.”

“That’s what makes him special though, is that he’s unselfish.”

Gretzky himself was quite the selfless player, as his 1963 career assists act as an easy reminder. Mind you, Gretzky had such a stellar surrounding cast (that even went on to win a cup without him in ’90), he had a plethora of elite weapons to dish the puck to.

And this is no disrespect to Leon Draisaitl, a potential perennial all-star in his own right, but the Oilers’ scoring depth has taken a hit in the past two offseasons. Edmonton lost plenty of goal scoring as Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have been shipped out, and with little spending money to shop with, McDavid will be called upon to pick up even more of that slack. If anyone is suited to give tips to McDavid, it’s Gretzky, and it seems like he has, as his role and involvement with the Oilers has increased.

Now, McDavid may have been the league’s best player last regular season, but the real medals go to those that can call themselves champions and because of that, McDavid’s yet to climb to number one on Gretzky’s list of current NHL players.

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“(It’s) Sidney. I say that privately, publicly, and listen, when you win three Stanley Cups, two (Olympic) gold medals, MVPs, scoring titles, and do what he’s done — until somebody knocks him off of that — he’s the guy. And there’s no question that Connor is the next guy, and he’s got to win that Stanley Cup and he’s got to get those prizes and until that happens, Sidney deserves the respect and honour that he gets.”

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Hopefully, for Oilersnation, McDavid will start racking up those Cups and prizes in the near-future. But Stanley Cup’s aren’t won overnight, it’s a process. And throughout that process, having Gretzky more involved with not just Connor, but the Oilers will only increase the team’s chances of rejuvenating the City of Champions.

  • OilCan2

    Sorry Wayne but Sid; even with his glorious past is a step behind Connor. Look no further than the awards banquet last spring. Yikes I just realized I mentioned three of the best to EVER lace em up in one sentence.

    I remember when Gordie Howe told Wayne to use his backhand more often. Wayne (as a King) went roof daddy backhand on the Oilers to pass Mr Hockey on the all time points list.

  • AustinH1993

    Connor McDavid had just 3 goals on the power play last season. If the NHL continues to crack down on slashing and face-off violations, and if McDavid starts to shoot more instead of looking for a pass at every opportunity, that will be the difference between his 30-goal campaign last season, to possibly scoring 50 or more this season and beyond. The kid’s ceiling is something to marvel at.

  • Pen Hawk King

    All this talk of a Stanley Cup in Edmonton is frankly laughable to hockey fans outside of the frozen tundra of deluded Northern AB. To win a cup now you need an elite offensive D-man and the Oil simply do not have one. You need a Doughty, Keith, Chara or Letang (or Schultz) and that’s why all those proven winners have put their names on the Cup in the past decade. Guys, Klefbom and Larrson won’t be joining them anytime soon i can assure you.

    Get off the koolaid boys, it takes more than McDavid to win the cup in this age of cap parity. Edmonton just doesn’t have the horses. Sorry boys.

    • West Ed Mall

      Ouch, the mere mention of justin schultz is a kick in the teeth because he was the missing piece you speak about. To think Gretz and Coffey personally stepped in to get him signed and then he foolishly got traded for a measly third and won two cups. Think Chia pulled the trigger on that one didn’t he?

    • Jordan88

      Penguins won without an Elite offensive D-man, Schultz is and has been a power play catalyst and Pittsburgh used him as that and Letang was out with injury. The correct assumption is you need DEPTH and good chemistry to win a cup. and Edmonton does have that. Pittsburgh won because Malkin and Crosby are a dominating force in the league and they make their line mates better. Also Boston won as well.

      Good teams win, and one player does not make the team. Our 4th line is out playing most 2nd and 3rd lines.

      • Pen Hawk King

        Sorry guys but sounds like a bunch of sour grapes too me. I watched every Pens playoff game and Schultzy was an absolute beast in Letang’s absence. He stepped up to elite level big time and had 13 points compared to Tangers 15 the year before. No wonder Wayne and Coff went to bat for the kid!

        Face it, your GM dropped an horrendous clanger trading away an elite offensive D which put the Pens over the top and will in turn cost you a cup for years to come.

        Gretzky and Coffey knew it, the Pens know it after re-signing him for big bucks…. so why don’t you?

    • Jack Dupp

      It’s ok MacT. Your Norris prediction for Jultz was a tad off. Good on the Pens for properly utilizing him. 3rd pairing and PP is where he slots in, (think Marc Andre Bergeron with a little more size). The former “braintrust”, and I use that term loosely, had miscast him and over played him. As for Klefbom not being elite, the 24 year old kid hasn’t yet played 200 games and he took another massive step forward last year. With the incremental steps forward he’s taken in the past, he very well could be an elite player by the end of this season. I see very little wrong with the Oilers roster at this time. There are probably 20-25 teams in the league that would trade their roster for the Oilers in a heart beat. Now to the real heart of the matter, pick a damn team and stick with it. Based on your handle, rhetoric and the drivel you spouted, I am going to assume you are a Millennial. Grew up with a crappy Oilers team so in your, (ill informed), opinion you assume they will always be bad. News flash, they will be a thorn in the side of the league for the better part of the next decade. Anyway, please don’t bother responding as you clearly don’t possess the mental acuity to partake in any discussion involving the Oilers.

    • thenoble1

      We have a jealous Edmonton hater here. It’s one thing to mock a hockey team but to mock the city itself and their people then you my friend are one with a mental disability!

    • not so daily doug

      Roman Yossi, PK Subban, Ryan Ellis.Nashville had 3 elite defenceman, #1’s on most teams and they lost. Hockey is a team game. The best thing about any #1 dman is the shut down role they can play. Larsson could become that guy,

    • RBC

      It looks like people in Calgary need a quick geography lesson. Edmonton is not in northern Alberta! Look at a map buddy, Edmonton is in the centre of the province. In fact, if one considers latitude, Edmonton is actually in the southern half of the province.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Well McDavid as 1st on the Oilers for shots in goal and 16th in the NHL. His shot totals were great but he does have another level. There were so many times where he could have shot the puck instead of passing. Can’t wait to see what he does this year. He apparently worked in his shot in the off season.