Connor at 500
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
Like many of you, my attention when it comes to Connor McDavid so far this season has been on whether he can score 50 goals for the first time in his career with the Edmonton Oilers. With 12 goals in 12 games as the Oilers face the Washington Capital tonight, I’ve been thinking about McDavid scoring 60, to be honest, but you’ve got to get to 50 first.
While I’ve been keeping track of every puck that goes in the net with McDavid off to a 12-13-25 start, I’ve got to admit I haven’t been keeping tabs on his career games played, which clicks over from 499 to 500 tonight like the hockey version of an odometer. Had McDavid not been banged up along the way, as comes with the territory, he’d have surpassed 500 already.
The old saying is that time flies and I can tell you without any hesitation that it seems to zip by faster the older you get. McDavid, who turns 26 in January, is sitting at 251-471-722 through 499 games. Only Wayne Gretzky (1,186), Mario Lemieux (971), Peter Stastny (759), Mike Bossy (757) and Jari Kurri (730) put up more points through 500 games.
McDavid, who made his NHL debut Oct. 8, 2015 without a point against the St. Louis Blues, is five years into an eight-year contract worth $100 million and right in the heart of the prime of his career. Mark Spector of Sportsnet put it this way this morning on Twitter, and he was right on the money: Tonight marks Connor McDavid’s 500th NHL game. The best player in the game is right in his prime. Don’t look away. You’ll regret it.
Nov 1, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) and Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen (92) battle for a loose puck during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“Really fast. Yeah,” McDavid said about reaching 500 games. “It goes quick. Getting a chance to live out my dream and playing in the NHL, to have done it for 500 games now, means a lot to me. I know there’s not a lot of guys who get to that number, so it’s special to me.”
We won’t know until it’s done what season or cluster of seasons will represent the pinnacle of McDavid’s career, but it’s reasonable to think we’re in it now. As far as personal awards go, McDavid has claimed the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion three times. He has been awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP twice and the Ted Lindsay Award three times. He’s coming off a season in which he went to the conference final for the first time.
Win now is the challenge for McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the rest of the players who make up this edition of the Oilers. McDavid is at the height of his powers. Producing at a rate of 2.08 points per game, he’s never been more prolific. I don’t know that he ever will be. If the time isn’t now to sip from the Stanley Cup, then when?
“Maybe just being a little more aggressive? Taking pucks to the net a little bit more, maybe? I don’t know,” McDavid said when asked about his increased production without a marked improvement in his underlying stats to this point. “I don’t know what it is. I think it just shows that, sometimes, analytics are a moot point. Sometimes it’s just going in for you.
“Every great player in the league has scored 50 goals. It’s obviously something I’d like to do one day, but it’s not the end of the world, the be-all-end-all for me.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Career and contract willing, I’d like to think McDavid has just as many games in Oilers silks ahead of him as he has behind. Here and now, while fans contemplate the possibility of 50 or even 60 goals on the eve of 500 games, I’m taking No. 97 at his word when he says he’s got other things on his mind. It’s about time, no?