The modern-day Edmonton Oilers may finally have their Wayne Gretzky in Connor McDavid. To be fair to McDavid, there will never be another “Great One” but if McDavid can continue his current path and the Oilers can keep following his lead up the standings then anything is possible.
The Oilers are currently 25-16 including a recent four-game winning streak, a streak in which McDavid had six points. If the Oilers are to shed the seasons of disappointments then everything begins with the play of the 20-year old stud.
For the season, McDavid has 55 points, already surpassing his 2015-16 total of 48 in 45 games. What makes McDavid so special is what he brings to the Oilers. Gretzky was an alien, a different breed of hockey player that will never be seen again. He did it all, the assist and the scoring but McDavid is sort of a throwback to that era. His points lead the league but it’s his ability to make others look good that makes him stand out.
McDavid has 15 goals on 165 shots, but his assists total of 40 sits above the game’s top players like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and well, everybody. He plays the game as if there is no one there but he and his teammates. But, as good as he’s playing now, does he have what it takes to lead the Oilers back to prominence?
It takes more than assists to be a leader. And while he’s certainly the new face of the franchise, he may be too young to understand what that entails. I remember living in Philadelphia when Eric Lindros came into the league. He was hailed as the Flyers savior but that was entirely too much for a young kid to shoulder. Injuries and expectations weighed him down until eventually he was shipped out of the city who placed that burden on him. Lindros went on to become a Hall of Fame player but he never really lived up to those lofty expectations.
Will the same happen to McDavid?
It’s still too early to call but he looks to be better than Lindros ever was. Lindos was power. He played with such brute force that he forgot to showcase what made his so special. McDavid has no such issues. He’s like the ripple in an ocean, he belongs on the ice. He moves so effortlessly that is a shame that he can’t get to the net like Gretzky did. At least not yet.
165 shots tell a story of a player that’s not scared to take the big one. He misses but he does understand that his contributions are what drives this team. If the Oilers are to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season then McDavid will be the reason. Think about a 20-year old kid, putting a franchise on his back and leading them to the promised land only to succeed. That’s something Lindros was not able to do. He had his good years but what McDavid is on pace to do is prove that he’s more than capable of leading, he’s actually looking forward to it.
A playoff run this season is just the beginning. What happens afterward is where his legacy will be built.