A ‘more comfortable’ Connor McDavid could put Edmonton’s playoff drought to bed in 2016-17

Getty Images
7 Comments

This post is part of Edmonton Oilers day on PHT…

As many expected, Connor McDavid had a fantastic rookie year. Despite suffering a fractured clavicle in November, the 19-year-old was able to finish the year with 48 points in 45 games in his first NHL season.

The numbers are impressive, but with McDavid’s impact only having been felt for a little more than half a season, the Oilers still couldn’t get back to respectability on the ice.

Can a healthy McDavid get Edmonton back to the playoffs as soon as this season? Even though it seems like a long shot, the idea can’t be dismissed.

Of all the players that played 41 games and up in 2015-16, McDavid ranked third when it came to points-per-game. Only Patrick Kane (1.29) and Jamie Benn (1.09) were ahead of McDavid (1.07) in that category.

Now that he’s a year older and a year wiser, it’ll be interesting to see just how much of a leap McDavid can make next season.

“I’m really excited. I definitely feel a little bit more comfortable this summer than I did last summer, not knowing basically what to expect about anything,” McDavid said in July, per the Toronto Sun. “And now you come back and you have a season under your belt, you can kind of feel a little more comfortable and have a better understanding for certain situations.”

There’s no guarantee that McDavid would have been able to keep up his 1.07 points-per-game pace, but for the sake of argument, let’s take that number and pro-rate it over 82 games. That’s an 87-point season for a guy who only turned 19 in January.

Can we rule out a 100-point season for McDavid in 2016-17? Absolutely not. If he stays healthy, it’s entirely possible. But does a 100-point season from McDavid make Edmonton a playoff team (something they haven’t been since 2005-06)? That remains to be seen.

Since the last lockout, two players have surpassed the 90-point mark. Chicago’s Patrick Kane did it last season and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby did it in 2013-14. In both instances, their respective teams made the playoffs. That’s not to say that the Pens and ‘Hawks were in the same situation as the current Oilers, but getting that type of production from your top player can only increase your odds of making the post-season.

That’s also not to say that the hopes and dreams of next year’s Oilers fall solely on McDavid’s shoulders. Most people may not have liked the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson swap, but it’s clear that Larsson makes Edmonton’s defense better.

An outstanding year from McDavid, the addition of Larsson and some improved play from young defensemen like Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom could signal the end of the Oilers’ playoff drought.