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McDavid: What’s Next?

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Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
6 months ago
As Connor McDavid framed it in May after the Edmonton Oilers came up short in the postseason for the second year in a row, this time losing to the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in six games in the second round, it’s eyes on the prize with the win-now window still wide open.
“It’s Cup or bust for this group,” McDavid said about an Oilers team that lost to Colorado, the eventual Cup champs, in the 2022 Western Conference final before falling to Vegas last spring. “Just where everyone is at with their career, that’s the expectation.
“I think it is progress, maybe it doesn’t feel like it today, but I think it is progress. I think we’re a better team than we were last year. We have basically everybody coming back, and it’s just more experiences. That’s all positive stuff.”
Yes, it is. And it goes without saying a significant part of the progress McDavid talked about came because of the seasons he, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put together. Each of them enjoyed career years in points, to look at just one of many superlatives.
While building on that as a team in 2023-24 depends on far more than the offensive numbers this trio puts up – preventing goals and improved 5-on-5 play is a reasonable start – I’ll be looking back at what McDavid did last season and ahead to what he might do next today. I’ll follow up with Draisaitl and RNH later this week.

BY THE NUMBERS

Apr 23, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) moves the puck against Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Roy (3) during overtime in game four of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
After career highs in goals, assists and points with 64-89-153 last season, McDavid already sits fifth in all-time franchise points with 303-547-850 in 569 games. Barring injury, he’ll zip right past Glenn Anderson, fourth with 906 points, in a hurry. McDavid, 26, is at the peak of his powers and in the heart of his prime years.
His highs for goals, assists and points aside, McDavid’s 21 power-play goals was 10 better than his previous high. His 50 PP assists topped his previous best by 16. His 71 power-play points erased his previous best by 27. He had 39-36-75 at even strength, not far off his high of 84. His average TOI was 22:23, his second highest. His shooting percentage was a career-best 18.2 per cent. He had 45 multi-point games and was held pointless just seven times.
While I wouldn’t frame it that we should expect McDavid to surpass his 153 points of last season, unless the wheels fall right off the power play or he gets injured, I don’t doubt he’ll take a run at hitting an even 1,000 points for his career.
We know making good on the stated goal of “Cup or bust” is going to take considerable contributions from the likes of Zach Hyman and Evander Kane among others, better goaltending from Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell and the kind of attention to detail Jay Woodcroft and all coaches look for. Those are givens. What might we see from McDavid? 

THE BOTTOM LINE

“I think that kind of empty feeling that you’re left with, I think it’s great fuel, you don’t want to feel that feeling anymore,” McDavid said. “I think for us, it’s understanding how far away it is to be back in that same position . . .”

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