Connor McDavid reminds us that he may still be best hockey player in the world

Connor McDavid‘s Oilers teammate (sometimes linemate) Leon Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy. Throughout the offseason, plenty tabbed Nathan MacKinnon as the best player in the world, not McDavid.

Being that McDavid’s made jabs toward the media about awards voting and other issues, it wouldn’t be surprising if McDavid was making notes about all of the “snubs.” That’s especially true if McDavid goes to great lengths to take things personally, like a less-spicy Michael Jordan.

Maybe McDavid’s been seething during the offseason, maybe not.

Either way, following the Oilers’ 5-3 loss to the Canucks to open the season, McDavid absolutely exploded on Thursday. Check out video footage of his hat trick in the video above (while he also added an assist).

Connor McDavid already has his first hat trick of the season

McDavid only needed two periods to record his first hat trick of the 2020-21 NHL season. Each goal was impressive in different ways, and McDavid also recorded an assist as his Oilers beat the Canucks 5-2.

Opening up his hat trick, McDavid scored in the nick of time, beating the buzzer by less than a second. Could you really blame McDavid for grinning?

Meanwhile, McDavid’s second goal was the sort of effort that makes you wonder if cheesy goals in games like NHL ’21 aren’t so unrealistic after all. At least for Connor McDavid.

(Seriously, that type of goal accounts for about 10% of all non-one-time goals in those games.)

There was even some cheeky field general-type brilliance to that Connor McDavid hat trick.

Just tremendous stuff from McDavid. At the absolute minimum, most Connor McDavid performances rank as must-see TV for hockey diehards.

[PHT’s predictions for the Hart Trophy and other awards]

Still some ways to go, but don’t count out Connor as the absolute best

Now, for some Connor McDavid critics, they’d retort that his games are must-see because the excitement happens at both ends.

If you want an almost-too-perfect encapsulation of the analytics argument against Connor McDavid being the best in the world, consider this. He grades out at the highest end of both extremes in Evolving Hockey’s player cards, at least for 2019-20:

Connor McDavid Evolving Hockey player card
via Evolving Hockey

… That’s amazing. It leaves us impressed, like Baxter eating the entire cheese wheel.

If Connor McDavid brings so much to the table while taking a ton of away from it defensively, then the debate will continue to rage on. Especially if Nathan MacKinnon and others present more well-rounded seasons. There’s always the possibility that Connor McDavid heard your critiques, saw those charts, and might polish up his two-way game.

Either way, gather your popcorn as Connor McDavid aims to prove he’s the best in the world. (If you ever doubted it.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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