Photo Credit: © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW(FE): If you were Connor McDavid

With the season winding to an end and the Oilers sitting on the outside of the playoffs looking in, the Oilers have ultimately wasted three of the first four years of Connor McDavid’s NHL career.

You can give them a pass on the first one, given the fact he was a fresh rookie who missed half of the season due to an injury, but these last two seasons after the team’s supposed breakout year in 2016-17 have been incredibly frustrating. And that frustration isn’t just felt by the fanbase. It’s felt, most of all, by the captain himself.

The Oilers were officially eliminated from the playoffs after Tuesday night’s loss in Vegas. We knew long before that night the team wasn’t going to defy the odds and go on a run, but the official elimination from playoff contention is always a gut punch. McDavid clearly felt it that night.

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“It’s really high. It’s really, really high. It’s frustrating. We want to play in the playoffs as a team. I personally want to play in the playoffs. I’m not happy about it. It’s going to be a long summer.”

This was probably the most frustrated we’ve seen the soft-spoken captain in an interview before and his words carried loudly around the league. Many have spouted off about the possibility (or inevitability) of McDavid demanding out. I don’t really put much weight on those opinions as most don’t actually have any insight into the situation and many actively looking to stir things up. This is the hyper-analysis of his draft lottery body language all over again.

That said, when Elliotte Freidman chimes in on the situation, you can’t help but pay attention. Friedman said on his 31 Thoughts podcast that he believes the Oilers have one or two more years before McDavid requests to be let out of this situation. While many will say McDavid should or will demand a trade simply to start controversy, I don’t believe Friedman is that type. He’s very well-connected and puts a lot of thought into the things he says.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. If you were in Connor McDavid’s shoes, how would you handle the future? Would you commit to the organization no matter what? Would you flex some influence and demand a certain coach or general manager is brought in? Or would you be looking to get your way out as soon as possible?

Throwback Thursday: Today in 2008, Edmonton Oilers sign Shawn Horcoff to six-year contract extension

It’s very obvious McDavid’s career has been wasted up to this point. No matter how much of an optimist you are, there’s no way around that. Nobody expected for the Oilers to be on the outside looking in after his fourth season, not even this organization’s biggest critics.

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There really aren’t many instances in the NHL in which a player of McDavid’s calibre has been in a situation so bad. Mario Lemieux would probably be the best comparable, as the Penguins didn’t manage to make the playoffs in his first four seasons in the league. Other first overall pick comparables who saw virtually zero success with their first franchise are John Tavares, who made the playoffs in just three of nine seasons with the Islanders before leaving the team as a free agent, and Rick Nash, who made the playoffs once in nine seasons with the Blue Jackets before requesting a trade.

Even if we take a look outside the NHL to the NBA, you don’t see a superstar player jump ship that quickly. The Cleveland Cavaliers massively flopped having LeBron James in his first go-around. He carried a team bogged down with marginal players to five playoff appearances in seven seasons and one trip to the Final before leaving to sign with the Miami Heat. Even Kevin Durant, who infamously ditched the OKC Thunder for easy championships in Golden State, stuck with the Thunder for nine seasons. Anthony Davis, whose career has been completely wasted in New Orleans, finally requested a trade this year, which is his seventh in the league. Also wasted in New Orleans, Chris Paul played six seasons before asking for a trade.

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Mike Green opts out of return to play

So, really, McDavid asking for a trade after four seasons would be pretty unprecedented for a player of his calibre in recent history. It’s a sticky situation because while McDavid is obviously a tremendously competitive person who desperately wants to have a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup, he also isn’t a quitter. If he was quieter, he wouldn’t be this good at hockey.

There’s no doubt that leaving puts a damper on a player’s legacy. I’m not just saying this as an Oilers fan who would be sad if Connor McDavid left. It’s just a reality. When LeBron left Cleveland, his two championships in Miami were met with a shrug. Four years after The Decision, LeBron returned to Cleveland and his 2016 championship is viewed as a bigger accomplishment than the other two combined. Then there’s Kevin Durant, whose two rings with Golden State are scoffed at because he just latched onto an already great team.

Still, a player can only put up with so much. As Friedman said, there’s reason to believe he can only take another couple years of incompetent management here before he decides to move on. If you’re Connor McDavid, and the organization doesn’t get it right, how long can you stick it out?  

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  • Gravis82

    Take this article down. Garbage. Do I need to remind you that you are not in toronto and this is an Edmonton Oilers fan blog written for fans by fans? Are you a fan of the edmonton oilers? Because I dont think that any real fan would write this article.

    • The voice of reason

      Wait, so you rather leave this discussion to those with a clear agenda ? Smart thinking.
      No, we clearly as a fan base need to be aware of this because a player of Connor‘s quality cannot allow an organisation to waste full 8 years of what should be an exceptional career, and what this organisation is jeopardizing. If you believe that we should pretend this will not be an issue for him, you are actively contributing to letting it materialize. Sticking the head in the sand is NOT the solution. I am fully aware that it will attract the Leafs fans but we will have to deal with them and not let them take over the discussion. But this discussion is emerging not due to envious fans of other teams but because of missing the playoffs in 3 of 4 years.

  • Datsyukian

    Besides all the moral/ethical aspects, quitting also carries a risk. Even if he goes to a star-studded team, he is not (no one is) guaranteed to win a Cup. And it just might be that the Oilers win a Cup after he is traded (I am not saying it’s likely but who would have thought Vegas – a club with zero stars would reach the finals?). How would he feel then?

  • Derkus the circus

    Toronto is one of the richest teams and the fact they couldnt win in an almost 40 yr span without a salary cap is embarrassing. Hell…even the new york oilers eventually bought their way out of a long drought in 1994. All the tools out east would love to see Mcdavid leave. It isnt happening. It took Ovechkin 13yrs to win. Im not saying i want to wait that long but jeez a little more patience people…lets pray the next regime of mngmnt arent idiots

  • Datsyukian

    To answer the question in the article, I think yes, McDavid should flex his influence and demand changes (not publicly, of course). I’m curious to see how many folks here trash this, but I actually think that it would help, not hurt the team, if your superstar player was a bit of a rabble-rouser and a “jerk” – both with the management and the lazy-bum players. Being nice, politically correct and “leading by example” rather than word, only gets you so far. And in Connor’s case, because of his unique talent, nobody in the organization, including Katz, has any power to challenge or do anything to him. He has the power to change coaches, POHO, GMs, anyone. So he should use some of that power.

    • Stallions #35

      I agree with that… if you have the influence, you should use it positively. Tell them what is and isn’t working ( behind closed doors) if there are steps taken to fix it great, if it falls on deaf ears then that basically tells him what the management and owner’s priorities are. Going back to the season ticket holder Gregor spoke with…just seems like Management doesn’t care about the product on the ice.

      Taking it a little further, we kind of need to know what are McDavid’s immediate expectations? Would playoff next year make everything okay even if its a first round exit? Is he expecting to have a cup contending team in 2 years? Is making the playoffs next year then missing again the year after acceptable? These are all things management needs to know from him… sad to see the first four years of his career where it is, but its not the end.

  • You just got LITT up!

    I think McDavid has one (1) year left. I don’t imagine he would stick around for a multi-year rebuild (based off his comments the other night), and as much as ON might not want to admit it, another re-build is exactly what the Oilers are being forced into. The current cap structure dictates that changes cannot (easily) be made and therefore, we will ice essentially the same team next year. The Oilers suck now and our “core” players all had career years, one thing goes wrong next year and we might be worse than this year FML!!!!

  • Svart kaffe

    He should at least give the next GM a reasonable chance. It’s not an overnight process and next season will be re-tooling, everybody knows that. So 2-3 seasons more before it’s even an issue.

    But what Connor really could do is convince free agents or players with NTC-clauses to go to Edmonton. Imagine getting a phone call from Connor telling you what could be accomplished if you took the deal the Oilers offers?

    Also, I don’t necessarily think a frustrated Connor McDavid is a bad thing. Maybe he’ll get angry enough to put some demands on the guys in the locker room as well? Maybe the whole team is frustrated enough to feel like enough is enough?

    Also, why is there no talk about other players wanting out? RNH? Nurse? Klefbom? Nobody spins a story about how Draisaitl just want to call it quits and leave this sad organisation behind. Also, Hall didn’t want out. Eberle didn’t want out. I think these guys are more stubborn than most journalists who conjure these stories are. Quitters would rarely be in a position to go #1 in the draft. Had McDavid been a whiny quitter maybe he would be writing for Sportsnet instead of being the best player in the NHL?

    • Dark Knight Returns

      – hello, Connor here!
      – hey ! What’s up buddy?
      – you should come to play with the Oilers, we can’t pay you a lot cause if the salary cap, the city is cold most of the time,there’s not a thing to do, but the festivals are bananas. And you know what???? Imagine the great things we are up to.
      – like what?
      – well, Leon scored 50 and nuge 30. We are still 25th place on the league but…
      – …
      – hello?

  • toprightcorner

    1) I am committed to win a cup with the Oilers but management has to do their part to improve the team because me and Leon can’t do it ourselves

    2) Management needs to start winning trades so do whatever it takes to bring in people that can do that. Every trade that has been made has made it worse

    3)They need to add skill and people who play hard every game. then I would tell him the people that don’t work hard or hurts the team in the room

    4) Quit telling people that we have the players to win, because we don’t. This is not on the players, it is managements fault so start telling people management had not been good enough and you will fix it. We do not have good enough players to succeed.

    5) The next time you fire a coach or the GM, then it is time to trade me.

    6) If you are loyal to me by continuing to improve the team around me, then I will be loyal to you. If the players get worse, then you are failing.

    7) One last thing, if I roll my eyes when they announce the new GM, then you better fire Bobby and pray that the GM doesn’t screw it up, because the GM will dictate whether I stay or go.

  • Billsbills

    Cam, do better. This post is garbage designed to get emotional responses. Well here’s mine, you can go the way of Archeology guy. He was always irrelevant.

  • Spiel

    McDavid and Draisaitl have not missed many games the last two years, and the team has missed the playoffs badly. Think what will happen when the injury bug inevitably bites.
    If I was McDavid I would be personally calling free agents to try and get them to play on my team. Without some more help and depth, it is dark days ahead.

  • Heschultzhescores

    The Toronto media is stirring the pot and we are dumb enough to bite. Ignore them and their 50 years of losing. Hilarious hearing the 50 year losers tell everyone McD need to leave. With their history, nobody shouid sign there.