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?

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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.

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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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  • QuitForRealThisTime

    I think this conversation should be left to the miserable self righteous Toronto media whose super successful team is on the verge of yet another championship just like……uhh…..when did they last win a cup?

    • Drexel

      To be fair, the Leafs were a last place team whose rebuild started 3 years ago and are now most certainly a contender. The Oilers rebuild has at least 4 (so far) first overall picks and has been going on for a dozen years.

      • ROILYDoGG$

        Wrong the leafs have been rebuilding for 50 years they just don’t call it a rebuild.
        Not only that they are far from a contender. Are they a good team yes they are having a great year, with some luck, minimal injuries etc. If they face either Washinging, Boston or Tampa which is most likely they will be out in the first round.

  • D

    If there are no major changes that point this franchise in the right direction both on and off the ice, make the trade request at the earliest date he could have been a free agent according to the current CBA. I’m not sure if that would have been at the end of next season or two years from now, but whatever the CBA has for free agency is a fair amount of time for this dumpster fire to get its act together.

  • Hemmercules

    He’s here probably another 2 years. If there is no sign of improvement after the summer of 2020 he will start some dialogue about a trade I think. He’s paid handsomely and he committed to the team for that time so I would hope he sticks it out at least that long.

    I’m still waiting for Katz to emerge from his cave and just start dropping the hammer on all these idiots. The Oilers have been getting absolutely destroyed by the hockey media lately, Connor is pissed, Bobby is a blathering idiot, Season ticket holders are dropping like flies and roasting the organization on their way out. If Katz has any self respect he shows himself after this season is over and starts working to improve this situation.

    • Johnny Loves Puck

      I was going to type a reply to the article but you got it here. Maybe add that CM is a stand up guy and clearly committed but he’s also not an idiot and gets the statement “past performance is the best indicator of the future”. He’ll give 6 years total but if there’s no hope, there’s no chance he sticks.

  • Ratt McNuge

    Here’s the thing: Asking for a trade because the team is crap would be acting like an entitled little brat if you ask me. He’s not entitled to win Stanley Cups just because he’s Connor McDavid. We are all dealt the hands we are dealt in life, and the kid is being played millions of dollars to play hockey. I don’t feel bad for him. I feel bad for the fans who have to watch him play on a crappy team.

  • TKB2677

    Seeing an article like this in what is supposed to be an Oilers site, written by a supposed Oilers writer I find extremely disappointing. Typically the people who write this crap are Toronto based media types who have been pissed off and jealous the Oilers have McDavid since they won the lottery. Those are the same guys who zero’d in on McDavid’s face and cherry picked a facial expression of McDavid and said “oh look at his face, he’s not happy to be going to Edmonton.” All they do in Toronto is pile on the Oilers because it’s an easy target, they aren’t talented enough to actually find a real story and they know that if they put McDavid in a title, people will read it even if it’s completely BS.

    I heard yesterday on both Edmonton afternoon sport shows that the moron from Toronto who just wrote the complete lie about McDavid requesting a trade has NEVER EVEN BEEN TO EDMONTON. So what Oilers “insider” does some guy who barely knows where Edmonton is on a map have? So it’s disappointing that someone here would write a similar piece about McDavid wanting out.

    To say that McDavid may want out means you are calling him a quitter. Elite players don’t QUIT. Do I expect him to be pissed off and sick of losing. Hell yes. Do I expect him behind closed doors to go to management and voice his frustration. Hell yes. Do I expect him to even get mad at management and ask then what the hell is going on? Hell yes. Is he quitting? HELL NO. Elite players want to be part of the solution. Even when Hall was here and he spent his whole career on a crap team. He was PISSED he was traded and spent an entire year sulking about the trade. He wanted to be part of the solution, not be moved out.

    • Elite players will not stick around to watch idiots preserve there own jobs while paying little attention to what needs to be done. This is a unique situation. We all know any other owner would have piled all the Klowns in the Klown car and pushed it off the High Level Bridge years ago. It is not comparable to other superstars early careers. The NHL has never seen a gong show like this, and McDavid knows and probably has for years , that they need to be fired, now he plays for the team, and he knows for sure now. Direct shot at the OBC and deservedly so.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        You’re not wrong, but the 70’s-80’s Leafs and the Ballard Years are a comparable… Heck, that owner turned the water fountains off during the games to sell more drinks… When the league demanded he put names on the jerseys, he refused, siting that the fans are more connected to the team with just a number. Ballard gets fined by the NHL, so he puts the names on the back in the same colour. I have one of those Sittler Jerseys.. I digress, sorry. I have to believe that Connor is so competitive that he’ll want nothing more than to turn this team around. Quite honestly it would be the best thing for his career as he doesn’t seem like a “quitter” to me. I do think that if nothing changes upstairs though that he will demand they listen, they can’t not, in the interest of their wallets. That will get changes happening, the wallets… and Connor has the power to make that happen.

        • And extra salt on the peanuts. Just being compared to Ballard would alarm most people, too busy counting taxpayers cash to be bothered about it.Also he did not fulfill his obligations before he robbed the taxpayers and blew town. As he has not fulfilled that perhaps the City should send him the bill for the maintenance. Sweetheart deal, and does not fulfill his end to the surprise of no one. I cant see why the taxpayers should be stuck with their end when he reneged on his.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            To your point, should or could, the taxpayers that contributed to the Oiler’s Entertainment District & Group elect a committee as a board to have a say in operations.
            Being similar but with completely different circumstances than the Saskatchewan RoughRiders & Green Bay Packers. As they are a large % owned by taxpayers & are run by an elected board of directors… As far as I can see, the Riders have one of the best fan-bases in all of sport? As do the Packers in the NFL. I’m not sure if that’s directly related to fan ownership or not. But it’s something to think about. And depending on the % the taxpayers contributed, they should be able to hold certain people accountable?

      • TKB2677

        Name me an elite player that has quit on his team and asked out?

        Hall spent 6 crap years and was pissed off he got traded.
        Tavares spent 9 mostly crap year with the Islanders and he NEVER asked to be out.
        Nash spent 9 years in Columbus and they were garbage the whole time.

        There are 3 elite players off the top of my head. So name me an elite player that pulled the pin on his team so early in his career?

          • BobbyCanuck

            Not really, the Lindos example is quite relevant, as in Lindos is in the Hall of Fame, so it would appear that the NHL has no issues with players reneging on commitments, or draft rules

          • Glencontrolurstik

            That’s the problem BobbyCanuck, the NHL should have “issues with players reneging on commitments, or draft rules.” Lindros was the first of this calibre to my knowledge.
            Before him, players went where they were told… period.

          • Redbird62

            Eric Lindros did not renege on anything. He had no legal or moral obligation to sign a contract with the team that drafted him. The league draft rules are set up to benefit the NHL and Junior Teams, not the players. Eric Lindros had not signed or agreed to play for any NHL team. He informed Quebec if they drafted him he would not sign a contract with them. Knowing that he could not choose to play for any other NHL team, he stayed in the OHL and also played for Team Canada. If Quebec never traded him, he may have gone to Europe to play. Lindros is no different than the players who don’t sign, go to college for 3-4 years and eventually become free agents. And by the way, even once you sign the contract, it doesn’t mean you have to play hockey for that team, it means if you want to get paid to play hockey, you have to play for that team, unless the team agrees to make a change.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            RedBird, sheer entitlement by a Jr. Kid (I know it stemmed from his Dad) who thought he was gords gift to the league was not a thing before Lindros… Every kid before him just felt lucky to be in the NHL until he came along… Before him salaries were not disclosed (unless one of the parties released them) as it was none of our business. I don’t even think the cap was in place.
            Overall in some ways I think the league and the fans should spend less of their fan energy on the business of the game & focus more on the actual sport. We are losing so much pouring energy into that aspect, (myself included), that I/we are maybe missing out on the finer points of the sport itself…

        • No players have played for a gong show like this. Unprecedented. Crosby got Patrick fired for his incompetence or he may have walked, and there in lies the difference. He needed to be fired for his failures, and that is exactly what happened. How about Lindros, pulled the pin before they even called his name. If they win the lottery, it would not surprise if Jack Hughes does the same thing. Who would want to come to this dumpster fire, when management seems to think everything is just wonderful? Bobby Nicks is also a great example and I quote.
          “We have 7 or 8 defenceman in the minors ready to contribute next year”
          Everybody knows the truth is we have a bunch of guys in the minors that are ready to be a 7th or 8th defenceman period. Tells lies even when he knows the truth will come out. Absolute farce. These idiots still believe they are only one or two pieces away from being good. That in itself would get them fired anywhere else but 80’s land.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            As I said, the 70’s – 80’s Leafs were a very close comparison to the upper office Gong Show that we are experiencing here… Leaf OBC, total upper management mediocrity and an OBC that even got famous muppets fashioned after them… (google Muppet Old Men, images)
            You think the Oiler Fan-base is pissed off? Well, I can tell you that’s minor compared the the Leaf Fan-base’s feeling in the 70,s… By the 80’s many had left and the fans that remained had gotten used to it, it was like a cult following that continues… The Edmonton media now is mild compared to the roasting that the Leafs got from the eastern scribes for years & years, and the fans knew that it all stemmed from the muppets in the balcony… Remember who the powerhouse team was then as well. Yes, the arch rival Canadien’s. So many similarities, between them then & us now that I think about it…
            Anyway, if we get through this successfully, it will make the fan-base stronger, we’ve had 14 years of anticipating the winning feeling, with a one year teaser…

          • Randaman

            Don’t worry about the first overall pick. If we win the lottery we will trade the pick. Talk about winning the lottery. Trade the pick with Lucic? Russell? Sekera? Koskinen + + for ???

        • The Voice In The Dark

          Eric Lindros; Patrick Roy; Pavel Bure; Chris Pronger. That’s four off the top of my head.

          Not saying it will happen with McDavid, but to say it won’t just because, “elite players don’t quit” is foolish.

  • rnj

    “He carried a team bogged down with marginal players to five playoff appearances in seven seasons and one trip to the Final before leaving”

    McDavid has one playoff appearance in four seasons, that’s the difference. He’s not getting good looks at a championship, it’s a tire fire. If LeBron won league MVP or got close and didn’t make playoffs would he have been there that long?

  • A-co

    If you have ever worked for a company where management doesn’t care as much as the people working for them and you take pride in your work it’s tough to continue to take your job seriously and care like you should. If I was Connor I would ask for a trade on CBC after hours Saturday night…this franchise has turn into a joke during the Katz Era. ..Hey Darryl if you want to hang out with your buddies from the 80’s oilers dynasty teams pay them to sit around your pool in Malibu…don’t pay them to sewer this team…I will now have my morning coffee and cigarette

  • The Dave

    Not many people have keyed in on it, but in that same interview McDavid said “We don’t even have a GM” in response to a question. He is upset, and I expect he is upset at the organizations lack of… well… organization.

    What would I do if I’m McDavid? I dunno, but I know what I’d do if I was McDavid’s agent. I would be calling Katz. Not Bobby, not Kevin, not anyone but Daryl, and I would express my frustration that the team is showing more loyalty to a previous generation of superstars than it is to the current generation of superstars they have sitting in front of them. I would bring up a few stats, like that the Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL by multiple metrics since Katz bought the team, show what the Oilers would look like without McDavid to prove that the team is still incompetent and the only improvement is because of him, and I would talk about what the plans are going to be to change it. Drastically. And not “We’re going to fire the Coach, whom McDavid liked, and trade for the defenceman that hurt him, who can’t crack an AHL lineup” drastic. More like “clear out the front office” drastic.

    And if all Katz cares about is money, I would bring up that playoff games = lots of money, and he can shed some salary by dumping about 5 buddies of his that should really all be attached to an Oilers Alumni charity organization rather than the actual hockey club.

  • DieseldaveM

    Him asking for a trade could end up being a blessing in disguise. The return would be astronomical and the cap space would balance the team. Is the goal to have the leagues best player or to have the leagues best team?

  • mikel

    if I were him, I would give them 1 year to right the ship…this time next year, if there isn’t signs of positive change (playoffs), trade me before the next season begins…

    it’s pretty much not going to happen, but maybe with this kind of consequence hanging over them, they might start making the right decisions…