Connor McDavid said Tuesday that he thinks the best is yet to come for him and the Edmonton Oilers, one day after they were swept from the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round by the Winnipeg Jets.
“I’m only 24 years old,” McDavid said. “I’ve got lots left. I’ve got lots of ways to continue to grow my game in different areas, find different ways to have success. Like I said, I’m only 24 years old and it feels like I’ve been in the League a long time, but ultimately I’m still a young guy in this league and have lots of good years ahead of me.”
McDavid has won the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader three times, including this season with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games, 21 more points than runner-up and teammate Leon Draisaitl.
McDavid’s production continues to accelerate. In his six NHL seasons, his points-per-game average has risen each season from 1.07 as a rookie in 2015-16 to 1.22 to 1.32 to 1.49 to 1.52 to 1.88.
On May 8, McDavid became the ninth player in NHL history to score 100 points in 53 or fewer games, and the first since Mario Lemieux (38 games) and Jaromir Jagr (52 games) did it for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96.
Despite the early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, after being eliminated in four games by the Chicago Blackhawks in the best-of-5 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, McDavid said the bar has been raised in Edmonton.
“The standard has gone up,” McDavid said. “That’s kind of where it all starts. The culture that we come to the rink every day and demand better from each other, expect better from each other, if this was a couple years ago, we’d be sitting here just so happy that we got to play four playoff games. That’s definitely not the mood in here today. We want more and we want lots more. We want to continue to work together and obviously win a Cup one day.”
Growing with the Oilers to become a Cup contender is his intention, McDavid said.
“We have a great core here, Leon and [Darnell Nurse], [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins], [Adam Larsson], these are guys that I’ve kind of grown up with and we want to see this thing through together and we want to do this thing right as a group,” McDavid said. “It’s special to be able to play with these guys, and I think it feels like we’re light years away, but we’re a lot closer than I think it feels today.”
McDavid’s imprint is a reason for optimism in Edmonton.
Of the Oilers’ 183 goals this season, he either scored or had an assist on 57.4 percent. In the last 13 games of the regular season while he was surging to and past the 100-point mark, Edmonton scored 46 goals, and McDavid, with 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists), factored in 73.9 percent of them.
His production helped the Oilers finish second in the Scotia North Division with a record of 35-19-2 and its best points percentage (.643) since 1986-87.
“I think we’re starting to build a real good foundation of what’s to come for the next years here for the Oilers,” Draisaitl said. “We know that we’ve had some very tough times and there’s been a lot of disappointing years and disappointing times, and it’s going to feel that much better eventually when we do win and we are at the top.
“It’s just fun to be around here. We have an amazing group of guys. We want to win as a group. We want to do well with the guys that are here. We took big steps this year and we’re going to come back and we’re going to chase it again.”