Edmonton Oilers player review and 2021-22 preview: Connor McDavid

Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
2 years ago
Welcome to the 2020-21 season review and 2021-22 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 season and previewing the 2021-22 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.
If you’ve lived under a rock for the last six years, I’m happy to report the Edmonton Oilers have the best player in the NHL on its team.
This Connor McDavid kid is pretty good. Last year alone in a COVID-shortened 56-game season, McDavid scored 33 goals and 105 points pacing the league in both assists (72) and points. Honestly, it wasn’t even close.
McDavid was 19 points up on teammate Leon Drasiatil, who finished second in scoring, and an almost comical 36 points up on Brad Marchand, who finished third in league scoring with a respectable 69 points.
For only the second time in NHL history, McDavid was unanimously named the Hart Trophy winner as league MVP. He got a first-place vote from every PHWA voter.
It gets even better, too. According to Hockey References era adjusted point totals, McDavid finished with the ninth-best offensive season in NHL history and honestly, he could’ve scored more — he is simply that good.
At 5×5, he scored 56 points this season — a per hour clip of 3.58, by far the best of his career with his previous high coming in 2017-18 when he scored 3.17. His underlying numbers are just as impressive.
With him on the ice this season at 5×5, the Oilers controlled 54.88 percent of the shot attempts, a career-high, along with control of 57.14 percent of the goals and 56.57 percent of the expected goals all with an even 100.8 PDO. Much was made about McDavid’s defensive play, but it was an area we saw the Oilers captain address.
He was much more attentive and committed to play in his own zone, and it helped lead to more offensive opportunities. With him on the ice at 5×5, the Oilers allowed 3.07 goals against per hour and 2.29 expected goals against per hour — both of which are lower than the two seasons prior.
Other underlying numbers highlight this, too. According to hockeyviz.com, which analyzes isolated impacts of players, McDavid provided even-strength offence at a 24 percent rate above league average and defence at a four percent rate above league average. The offensive contributions are massive, but so are the defensive contributions.
McDavid’s game is trending in an incredible direction. At 24 years old, McDavid has two Hart Trophies, three Art Ross Trophies and three Lester Pearson Trophies. His defensive play is catching up to his offensive wizardry, and for a player who played over 22 minutes a game last year, that’s incredibly important.
He now has an 82-game season in front of him and one where he could shatter records. I don’t think 160 points is out of the question for McDavid this season and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see this happen.
Now entering his seventh season in the NHL with 574 career points, McDavid should pass Doug Weight (577), Ryan Smyth (631) and Paul Coffey (669) to jump into fifth place in Edmonton Oilers historical scoring.
Buckle up folks, because we are in for something special this year.

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 zach@oilersnation.com.

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