Connor McDavid’s first five NHL seasons have been very impressive, and probably underappreciated when you look at the previous 40 NHL seasons. His high-speed stickhandling and skating abilities are breathtaking, and in an era where elite athletes are playing at high levels for longer periods of time, it is safe to say McDavid has yet to reach his peak. The next 10 years could be just as impressive, potentially more.
His point totals in his first five seasons were 48, 100, 108, 116 and 97. However, his points-per-game have increased every year, going from 1.06 to 1.21 to 1.31 to 1.48 and 1.51.
Last season he scored 97 points in 64 games after spending the summer rehabbing his knee. He didn’t have a proper off-season of training, but the still produced more points-per-game (P/G).
In his first five seasons, McDavid has scored the most points in the NHL, while his 1.34 P/G had a larger gap between him and second place Nikita Kucherov than his point totals.
In the history of the NHL dating back to 1917/1918, only six players (and three in the past 80 years) have led the NHL in scoring during their first five seasons: Joe Malone, Howie Morenz, David “Sweeney” Schriner, Wayne Gretzky, Alex Ovechkin and McDavid.
Malone was a goal-scoring machine in 1917/1918 though to 1922. He scored 142-32-174 in 96 games and he averaged 1.81 P/G. He only played eight games in 1918/1919, but still led over a five-year span. Cy Denneny was second in points with 173 and while Newsy Lalonde was second with 1.70 P/G.
Morenz burst on the scene in 1923/24 and amassed the most points between 1924-1928 with 121-43-164 in 172 games. He averaged 0.95 P/G. Aurel Joliat was second with 146 points and 0.85 P/G.
Schriner led the NHL between 1935-1939 scoring 92-122-214 in 240 games. He averaged 0.89 P/G. Matt Barty was second with 194 points and 0.81 P/G.
It never happened again until some kid name Gretzky showed up.
Gretzky was on a different planet between 1980 to 1984.
He scored 356-558-914 in 393 games and averaged 2.33 P/G.
Mike Bossy was second with 294-300-594 in 380 games and a 1.56 P/G.
Marcel Dionne was third with 256-332-588 and a 1.53 P/G.
Please stop with foolish suggestions Gretzky only scored because it was the high-scoring 1980s. He scored way more than pretty much everyone else. He still led the NHL in scoring between 1979-1983 and he wasn’t in the NHL in 1979. From 1978-1982 he was fifth in total points and he only played in the NHL for three of those five seasons.
Gretzky (2.33) averaged a full one point-per-game more than every player in the NHL during this first five seasons, except Peter Stastny (1.57), Bossy (1.56), Dionne (1.53) Bryan Trottier (1.41) and Dave Taylor (1.36). Utterly ridiculous.
Gretzky proceeded to score 606 points in seasons six through eight, averaging 2.53 points-per-game in those years. McDavid is just entering his prime and I think it is valid to believe he will average over 1.60 P/G in the coming seasons.
Ovechkin made his NHL debut in the 2005/2006 season along with Sidney Crosby. Their first five seasons were very close, but Ovechkin scored more points.
Ovie had 23 more points, while Crosby averaged 1.36 P/G to Ovechkin’s 1.34. Crosby then had injury issues in the next three season playing a total of 99 games. His P/G was outstanding at 1.61 and is another illustration of why I believe McDavid is poised to take his game to greater heights.
**Side note. Since 1984 only nine players have led the NHL in scoring over a five-year span.
Gretzky did it over the first 12 situations of his career, starting in 1980-1984 up until 1991-1995.
Adam Oates tallied the most between 1992-1996.
Then Jaromir Jagr did it for the next nine situations starting in 1993-1997 up to 2001-2006.
Joe Thornton led three times between 2002-2007 and 2004-2009. (These were six years, but five seasons due to lockout)
Ovechkin did it four times from 2006-2010 to 2009-2013.
Martin St.Louis led in 2010-2014.
Claude Giroux did it twice from 2011-2015 and 2012-2016.
Crosby did it three times between 2013-2017 to 2015-2019.
And McDavid led from 2016-2020. Could he match Jagr’s stretch of nine times in a row?**
Regardless of era, many of the NHL elite scorers over the past 40 seasons have been incredibly productive from seasons six and beyond. I mentioned Gretzky and Crosby’s production in seasons six-to-eight, but even beyond that they were still elite.
In the past five seasons, Crosby and Ovechkin’s 12th-16th in the league, they were both still top-ten in total points and Crosby had the fourth-best P/G at 1.15.
McDavid’s greatness will span another decade, and possibly longer, with much more education on training, rest and nutrition. We have seen it with Lebron James, Tom Brady and other truly elite athletes who are able to maintain their greatness longer. Are they better than the great players in the 70s, 80s and 90s or do they simply have better education on how to maintain their high level of play longer? I believe it is the latter.
Rest days, proper nutrition, stretching, physio and many other sports science alternatives allow today’s best players to extend the “peak career” years.
As a fan of sport, I love it. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing James, Brady, Crosby and others near the top of the respective leagues for 15+ seasons? And the good news for NHL fans is that McDavid will get better over the next decade.
But what can we expect from McDavid this season?
The NHL has had two previous 48-game seasons (I expect the 2021 season to be around 48 games) in 1995 and 2013. There is a precedent to use as a comparison, however; neither of those seasons included a global pandemic with no fans in the stands and only games against teams within your division. It isn’t a perfect comparison, but they are the best we have.
In 1995 the NHL had two superstars in Jaromir Jagr and Eric Lindros lead the league with 70 points respectively. Lindros had 29-41-70 in 46 games with a 1.52 P/G, while Jagr tallied 32-38-70 in 48 games for a 1.46 P/G. Jagr was in his fifth NHL season, while Lindros was in his third season. Both posted their highest P/G totals to date during that shortened season.
In 2013, Martin St. Louis led the NHL with 60 points in 48 games, while linemate Steven Stamkos had 57 points and Crosby and Ovechkin had 56. Crosby only played 36 games and his 1.56 P/G was much better than second-place St.Louis’ of 1.25 P/G.
Crosby produced at a 1.52 P/G clip despite playing only 63 games in the previous two seasons due to post-concussion symptoms. McDavid will enter this season 100% healthy, and well rested having only played four games since March 12th.
I expect his P/G to increase this season like it has the previous five and I see McDavid producing at a 1.75 clip. Which equates to 84 points over a 48-game season.
What projection to do you foresee?
MONTH OF GIVING…
Our ninth annual Month of Giving begins today. Every weekday from today through to Wednesday, December 23rd, we will be auctioning off a package on my TSN 1260 radio show with all the proceeds going to various charities including The Christmas Bureau, Santas Anonymous, Operation Friendship Senior Society, The Mayfield Rotary Club, Holiday Hamper Program and more.
We will have a new package every day, and you can see all the packages for this week at Jasongregor.com so you can plan ahead and make sure you don’t miss out on a package. We will update the site on Friday to showcase the following week’s packages.
Day #1: A one-year membership at Blackhawk Golf Club courtesy of Al Prokop.
- As a private club member, you are usually required to buy a share, which is currently $25,000, however, the Blackhawk Golf Club has generously bypassed this for our auction, and the winner will be just like any other member for a year.
- The successful bidder will receive full unrestricted golf playing privileges for the 2021 season including club storage, locker room access, use of practice range and short game area, as well as clubhouse, account for all purchases. The bidder will also be entitled to bring guests as per the Club’s standard guest policy.
You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 between 2-6 p.m. today and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260. All the money raised will help out The Christmas Bureau.
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