Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid is about to wreak havoc on the North Division

We’re now 17 games into the hockey season and there’s a number of things that have grown apparent:

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are playing some of the best hockey of their careers. While neither of them has lost a step offensively they’ve both recommitted themselves to the defensive game and the numbers are showing it.

McDavid has scored nine goals and 30 points in 17 games this year, while Draisaitl has eight goals and 26 points in that same time. Their number one and two in scoring in the league, and have a solid lead over the next closest player, Mitch Marner, who has 23 points.

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But when you dive into the Oilers superstars underlying numbers, there are a few key stats that jump out from their 5×5 play last year vs. this year. Let’s take a look at some of these.

McDavid Draisaitl
CF% 57.31 – 47.93 48.73 – 48.18
GF% 51.61- 51.67 73.91 – 52.67
xG% 63.86 – 48.29 48.07 – 49.17
Shots/60 8.33 – 8.13 4.39 – 6.91
Individual sh% 7.69 – 14.69 15.79 – 16.42
oi sh% 8.99 – 11.17 12.23 – 11.08
oi sv% 88.55 – 90.49 95.52 – 90.69
PDO 97.5 – 101.7 107.8 – 101.8

Analytics at 5×5 via naturalstattrick.com. First number 2020-21, second 2019-20.

So, there’s a fair amount of data to consume there, but there are a few things that jump out in particular. First, McDavid’s play driving has exploded and the shot attempt share with him on the ice this year is higher than it ever has before in his career.

That’s great to see from the Oilers superstar, as is the massive goal differential the Oilers are seeing with Draisaitl on the ice. That, however, isn’t expected to last in thanks to a spiked on-ice save percentage. There will be some correction there back down to the mean, but his hot start there is great to see.

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But there’s one thing, as you saw from the title of this piece, that leads me to believe we’re about to see an explosion of offence from Connor McDavid: his shooting percentage.

Historically McDavid has been a high-shooting percentage player regularly clipping the 14% percent mark, but this year his 5×5 shooting percentage is half of that.

His 5×5 goals/60, too, is down from 1.19 last year to .64 this year. He’s creating offence in other ways in thanks to a big spike in his assists/60 climbing from 1.65 to 2.14 last year vs. this year and that’s a big reason why he’s atop the league in scoring.

McDavid, who is one of if not the most offensively gifted players in the league, will see those low goal-scoring regress to the mean sooner rather than later. That market correction will come at the cost of the other teams in the North Division, who have already had a tough enough time corralling the explosive Oilers captain who has only been held off the scoresheet three times this year.

The Oilers have some games coming up in the next week where that could begin to take shape. The Oilers play Winnipeg tomorrow, before two games this weekend against the Calgary Flames, and another two against the Vancouver Canucks next week.

While Calgary is middle of the pack in terms of goals against, a lot of that is due to a goaltender in Jacob Markstrom who has stood on his head and looked every part of a Vezina-calibre goalie.

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Vancouver, meanwhile, have given up the most goals against this year and can’t seem to stop the bleeding. This next week or so sure will be interesting to watch.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]