Remember when Connor McDavid got drafted into the NHL and he was a small, innocent child who wasn’t the greatest at taking faceoffs? He could skate laps around anybody he wanted to but unfortunately, winning faceoffs is something a person can’t just be genetically good at. Any rookie who comes into the league struggles with winning faceoffs as it takes strength and experience to win against the big boys. Arguably, faceoff % was probably Connor McDavid’s worst attribute when he came into the league during 2015. He said it then, and he still says it now that he needs to work on it and improve.
You know what Oilers fans? As expected, Connor McDavid’s faceoff win percentage has increased over his three seasons in the NHL, and it’s looking pretty good this year to start. Of course, he’ll tell you that it’s still something he needs to improve on, but Connor’s practice is paying off on the ice, and he’s officially winning more draws than losing.
Connor’s Faceoff Stats
2015/16 season – 41.2%
2016/17 season – 43.2%
2017/18 season – 41.4%
2018/19 season (so far) – 49.5%*
*Note: Connor was at a 51.7% average before last nights game but unfortunately had a tough faceoff matchup against Sidney Crosby. Still good though!
That’s a nice looking percentage this season, hey? Of course, he’s only played seven games, but it’s a good start. Here’s what the captain had to say about his faceoff skills.
“It’s hard to work on faceoffs in the summer. Guys aren’t really wanting to sit there and drop pucks and go head-to-head all summer long, so it’s kind of just experience, getting stronger, and taking the reps, that’s the only way you’re going to get better… I don’t think there’s any cheating anymore because the refs call it so tight now, and that’s good. You want the faceoffs to be fair and one guy to have an advantage over everyone else, so they call it tight.”
If you want to watch the full Connor media interview you can find it here. I find Connor’s comment about the linesmen calling the rules tighter interesting. As annoying as it is to watch the linesmen kick a centerman out of every draw, they’re really only enforcing the rules. It just shows how lackadaisy faceoff rules have gotten over the years, and now younger guys have a more fair chance to win draws. Rules are there for a reason folks, even if it reduces entertainment value.
Welcome to the NHL, Connor McDavid: 0-for-6 in faceoffs in the first period (0-3 vs. Backes). Maybe toughest part of game for 18yo to adjust
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 9, 2015
Anyone remember this tweet from Connor’s first NHL game? I don’t, but it’s hilarious to look back on. I remember Nuge also struggling with winning draws when he first entered the league (37.5% in his first year), and now his faceoff percentage this season is 43.8%. Over the past few years Nuge has become consistent at winning ~45% of the draws he takes. It’s not like Nuge and Connor have become jacked since they were first drafted. They have obviously gotten stronger but they’ve also had a few years to learn what their opponents do in the faceoff circle, and what the best strategies are against them.
Connor McDavid is perfect in a lot of ways, and if he also becomes perfect in the faceoff circle, it’s another utility the Oilers can add to their bag. As if Connor needs to do MORE to help this team win games. Has anyone ever finished a season winning 100% of the draws they’ve taken? I bet Connor can do it sometime in his career.