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A Guide to McDavid Scoring 150 Points… Again

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Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
9 months ago
Last year, Connor McDavid became only the sixth player in NHL history to score 150 points in a season and the first since 1996. It was a remarkable season, and his offensive prowess has many wondering if he can reach that lofty plateau again.
Phil Esposito was the NHL’s first 100-point player. He tallied 126 points in 1969 as a member of the Boston Bruins. He was also the first to reach 150 points when he produced 152 in 1971. He scored 133, 130, 145 and 127 points in his next four seasons, but could not reach 150 a second time.
Wayne Gretzky scored 164 points in his second NHL season in 1981 with the Edmonton Oilers. His next six seasons saw him set offensive totals that most likely will never be broken. He scored 212, 196, 205, 208, 215 and 183 points between 1982-1987. He was injured in 1988 and scored 149 points in 64 games, before producing 168 in 1989 with the LA Kings. He scored 163 points in 1991 with the Kings for this NHL-best ninth season with 150+ points.
Mario Lemieux joined the club in 1988 with a 168-point season. He tallied 199 points in 1989 and had 160 in 1993 and 161 in 1996. Injuries limited him — otherwise he likely would have had at least seven 150-point seasons.
Steve Yzerman (155 points) and Bernie Nicholls (150) entered the exclusive club in 1989. Yzerman had seasons of 137 points (1993) and 127 points (1990) but was unable to reach 150 again. Nicholls’ second-best season was 112 points in 1991.
Gretzky and Lemieux are the only players to reach 150 points on multiple occasions and in consecutive seasons. McDavid could become the third, and I don’t think many hockey players, fans or pundits would be shocked if he did.
However, it is extremely difficult to do. If he never reaches 150 again, it won’t be a failure in my eyes. Since Esposito reached 150 points in 1971, there have been 8,833 situations where an NHL forward played at least 70 NHL games in a season. Only 17 times has a forward scored 150 points, which equates to 0.0019% of the time. Lemieux did it playing 60 games in 1993, so it is actually lower if we use the 70-game threshold. My point is scoring 150 points in a season is extremely rare.

MCDAVID COULD DO IT…

Feb 27, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates a goal, his 50th of the season during the second period against the Boston Bruins at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
However, McDavid has a realistic shot to do it in the coming seasons. Here are 10 things I feel need to happen for him to score 150 points again.
1. Avoid injuries.
Only Lemieux and Gretzky finished the season with 150 points while playing fewer than 78 games. Esposito tallied 152 in 78 games, but he didn’t miss a game that year (the season total was 78 games). McDavid has been fairly healthy for most of his career. He broke his collarbone in his rookie season, and he missed seven games in the COVID shortened 2020 season. In his other six seasons, he’s missed a total of six games and didn’t miss a game in four of those years.
Injuries are impossible to predict, however, McDavid is always in great shape and takes care of his body year round. He did score 151 points through the first 80 games last season, so missing a few games won’t derail his chance to reach 150 again.
2. Maintain a high-shot volume.
He registered 352 shots on goal last year. His previous highs were 314 in 2022 and 274 in 2018. He was on pace for 292 in the 56-game 2021 season, but last season he fired the puck at a much higher rate averaging 4.29 shots/game. Gretzky is the only player to score 150 points while averaging fewer than four shots/game. The top three in shots on goals among players with 150 points are Esposito (588), Yzerman (388) and Nicholls (385). Then it is Lemieux (382), Gretzky (370 and 354). McDavid is next at 352. Only Lemieux and Gretzky managed to reach 150 points when having fewer than 350 shots on goal.
3. Score 50 goals.
In the 17 seasons where a player reached 150 points, only once — Gretzky in 1991 with L.A. — did a player do it without scoring 50 goals (Gretzky finished the season with 41 goals and 122 assists). Keep in mind Gretzky had 11 seasons with 100+ assists — Lemieux is the only other player in league history to do it, and he did it once in 1989 with 114 assists, which is tied for eighth most. Gretzky was a different breed of player, and if McDavid wants to score 150 points, he will need to reach 50 goals for the second time in his career.
4. Score 80 EV points.
I know he scored 75 EV points last year, so yes, it is possible to reach 150 without 80 EV points, but McDavid and Lemieux are the only ones who did it. (Point #5 explains why). History suggests it is more plausible if you have at least 80 EV points. And McDavid is capable of doing that. He had 84 in 2018 and 81 in 2019. He had 68 in 56 games in 2021, which prorates to 99. Last season was actually only his fifth-most productive season at EV scoring. Yzerman had 101 EV points in 1989, Esposito had 99 in 1971 and Nicholls had 87 in 1989.
5. Produce on the PP.
Lemieux and McDavid are the only players to score 70+ power play points (PPP) in a season in NHL history. In his four seasons scoring 150 points Lemieux scored 80, 79, 79, and 55 points on the power play. He had 55 in 60 games and averaged 0.91 PPP/game. He ranks 1st-4th in highest PPP/game average in NHL history and among the 150-point players. McDavid scored 71 PPP last year for an average of 0.87/game. His previous highs were 0.67 and 0.66 in 2020 and 2021. The Oilers have the best power play in NHL history and will be dangerous again this season.
6. Teammate Scores 40 Goals.
Johnny Bucyk had 51 goals with Esposito in 1971.  Dan Quinn (40 in 1988), Rob Brown (49 in 1989), Kevin Stevens (55) and Rick Tocchet (48) in 1993 and Jaromir Jagr (62) and Petr Nedved (45) in 1996 with Lemieux.
Leon Draisaitl scored 52 goals last season with McDavid.
Gretzky had Glenn Anderson (52) and Mark Messier (50) in 1982,
Only twice has a 150-point player’s teammate not scored 40. Gerard Gallant had 39 goals (he missed six games) in 1989 with Yzerman. In 1981 Gretzky’s highest teammate in goals was Jari Kurri with 32 and 75 points.
7. Teammate Produces 90 points.
Gretzky in 1981 and Lemieux in 1988 didn’t have a teammate with at least 90 points. However, in most cases the 150-point men had multiple teammates with 90+ points.
1971 Esposito teammates with 90+: Bobby Orr (137), Bucyk (116) and Ken Hodge (105).
1981 Gretzky teammates: None.
1982 Gretzky: Glenn Anderson (105).
1983 Gretzky: Mark Messier (106), Jari Kurri and Anderson (104.
1984 Gretzky: Paul Coffey (126), Kurri (113), Messier (101), Anderson (99).
1985 Gretzky: Kurrie (135) and Coffey (121).
1986 Gretzky: Coffey (138), Kurrie (131) and Anderson (102).
1987 Gretzky: Kurri (108) and Messier (107).
1989 Gretzky in LA: Bernie Nicholls (150) and Luc Robitaille (98).
1991 Gretzky: Robitalle (91).
1988 Lemieux teammates: None.
1989 Lemieux: Brown (115) and Coffey (113).
1993 Lemieux: Stevens (111), Tocchet (109), Ron Francis (100) and Jagr (94).
1996 Lemieux: Jagr (149), Francis (119) and Nedved (99).
1989 Yzerman teammates: Gallant (93).
1989 Nicholls teammates: Gretzky (168) and Robitaille (98).
2023 McDavid teammates: Leon Draisaitl (128) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (104).
McDavid and Draisaitl sit first and second with the most points in the NHL since 2015-16. McDavid has 850 and Draisaitl has 735. Patrick Kane is third at 680. Over the past four seasons both players have averaged over 1.5 points/game. Them producing shouldn’t be an issue.
8. Score a Shorthanded Goal.
Only Gretzky in 1991 didn’t score a shortie. It was the same year he didn’t score 50 goals. McDavid had four shorthanded goals last year, and his seven shorthanded points ranked 14th among the 17 seasons. Grabbing points in all areas of the game helps.
9. Have A Competitive Team.
The 1971 Bruins finished first in the regular season.
The 1981-1987 Oilers made the playoffs every year. From 1982-1987 they finished first or second in the NHL standings.
The 1988 Penguins missed the playoffs, but they had the 12th most points in the NHL. They just happened to be in the ultra-competitive Patrick Division and in 1988 the top four teams in each division made it. They would have made the playoffs if they played in any other division.
In 1989 Detroit finished first in their division, while LA and Pittsburgh were 2nd in theirs.
The 1991 Kings finished first in their division and third overall in the NHL.
The Penguins were atop the NHL standings in 1993 and were fourth overall in 1996.
The 2023 Oilers were second in their division and sixth overall in the NHL.
10. Be in your 20s…
No player was in their 30s when they scored 150 points.
Gretzky was 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27 and 29. He turned 30 in January of 1991, but the 1990-91 season was his official 29-year-old season.
Lemieux was 22, 23, 27 and 29.
Yzerman was 23.
McDavid was 25.
Nicholls was 27.
Esposito was 28.
McDavid has four more seasons in his 20s. Had the 2021 season not been shortened due to COVID, he might already have two 150-point seasons. He scored 105 points in 56 games in 2021, but prorating is just a projection, not actuality. No player gets in the record book from prorating their stats.
McDavid is already in the exclusive 150-point club, and I believe it is quite realistic that he joins the more exclusive club with Gretzky and Lemieux, of having multiple 150-point seasons.

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