Oh, to be a fly on the wall within the mind of Connor McDavid. At the age of 22, he is currently viewed as the best player in the National Hockey League. His speed (13.3 seconds around the rink at the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills competition) and point production (336 points in 262 regular season games) is incredible, yet somehow, he finds himself in a dumpster fire of a situation with the Edmonton Oilers.
Going into action on February 8, the Oilers sit 11th in the Western Conference with 53 points. Meanwhile, their provincial rivals in Calgary are atop the West with 73 points. Amazingly, though, the Oilers remain just three points out of a playoff position with 28 games remaining.
However, even if the Oilers were to miraculously make it into the playoffs during a season in which coach Todd McLellan and GM Peter Chiarelli were both fired by the organization, it doesn’t mask the fact that the franchise has thus far failed McDavid.
What’s Gone Wrong?
After ‘earning’ its umpteenth 1st overall draft position following the 2014-15 NHL season, the Oilers drafted and pinned its future hopes on McDavid. By October 2016, the star centre was now the team captain and entering an era in which the Oilers thought having Adam Larsson in the fold instead of Taylor Hall was a good idea.
Unfortunately, McDavid’s young career has been tainted in many ways by a series of similarly questionable player personnel moves committed by the Oilers – the team’s recent trade history reads like the script of a bad horror movie.
This is not what a team is supposed to do with a player like McDavid. When a player with a seemingly unlimited ceiling becomes a staple of your franchise, you’re supposed to have an easy time attracting the right type of talent to surround him with.
Get McDavid Some Players
In Toronto, Auston Matthews has Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares – just to name a few. With Boston, you have Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak all manning the same line. Then you have Sidney Crosby sharing a rink with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Alex Ovechkin has Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov in Washington.
McDavid, meanwhile, has Leon Draisaitl, a player some don’t think would achieve statistical success if forced to drive his own line. Also, there’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, one of the few recent first overall picks the Oilers haven’t felt the need to trade away.
The reality of the situation is that McDavid is in the midst of an eight-year, $100 million contract with a team that’s been unable to provide him with any viable assistance. If this trend continues, one has to wonder just how long he’ll put up with it.
McDavid doesn’t strike me as the type to publicly lash out at his team and make demands. However, he does appear as someone driven to win. If the Oilers continue to keep their star weighed down by a roster filled with rocks, don’t be surprised if he eventually chooses to reassess his loyalty to the team that drafted him.
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