Q&A: Connor McDavid on Oilers’ offseason, NHL Olympic participation

connor mcdavid
Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

The sting of a playoff exit is hard for Connor McDavid to shake. The Oilers captain needs some time following a series defeat before he can see how the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs shake out.

“Probably not watching the series right after, but I’ll pick it back up as it closer and closer to the [Stanley Cup],” McDavid told NBC Sports on Monday as he attended the annual BioSteel hockey camp.

Success has eluded McDavid and the Oilers. Edmonton has one postseason win since reaching the Second Round in 2017 and the raising of the Stanley Cup is no fun when you’re not involved.

“Growing up, watching the day when the Cup is handed out is always a fun day when you’re a kid,” McDavid said. “The day the Cup’s handed out when you’re in the league is never necessarily a great day if you’re not lifting it. It’s obviously something that everyone wants to do. We’re no different in Edmonton. We want to bring a Cup to the fans of Edmonton and win a Cup for ourselves. We’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s a long way down the road. The first step is coming up here in a few weeks when we get together for camp.”

We spoke to Connor McDavid about his summer training, the Oilers’ busy offseason, the NHL potentially going back to the Olympics, and more.


Q. What are you looking to get out of these types of summer camps?

CONNOR MCDAVID: “The main thing I’m trying to get out of here is feeling good about where my game’s at and measuring myself up against some other guys, if I need to tweak something or everything’s good. That’s always the biggest thing.”

Q. We’ve seen how high of a level you can play at for six seasons now. What do you feel is left to improve in your game at 24 going on 25?

MCDAVID: “I think just rounding the game out, being solid defensively, winning face-offs, and all the type of things that you need to do to win a championship. That’s obviously my only focus and also trying to figure out what I can do, what I can be better at to help my team do that.”

Q. It’s been two years since your knee injury. What, if anything, are you doing differently in your summer training?

MCDAVID: “No, I don’t think it’s changed. I was definitely introduced to some great people during that rehab. I still lean on them. It was rehab back then, now it’s a little bit more performance-based, which I like. I’ve been able to add on to your summer routine just from getting to know some of those people through that rehab process.”

Q. How has your offseason training evolved? Are there things you’re doing now that you didn’t do your first few NHL seasons?

MCDAVID: “I don’t think I’ve taken many things out, I’ve just added things. When you first get into the league and come through junior, you don’t really understand how it really is a full-time job. People don’t really understand that and how much work it takes. They only get to see the finished product on the ice, but there’s so many things that go into it. Just being a little more mature, understanding the game a little bit better has allowed me to add some things in and focus on things that I can improve on.”

connor mcdavid

Q. As captain and one of the offensive leaders of the Oilers, how hard do you take it when seasons end like they have for you guys?

CONNOR MCDAVID: “No one wants to lose and everyone wants to win a Cup. Anytime you don’t get to do that it’s obviously disappointing. We thought we had a better team the last two years and could have gone a little further than we did. Obviously, very disappointing and that should motivate everybody, and it certainly motivates me to get back to camp and make sure we get off to a good start and see what can happen.”

Q. Given how the last few seasons have ended, Ken [Holland] was pretty aggressive this summer in trying to improve areas on the roster. What do you think about the additions of Duncan [Keith], [Zach] Hyman, [Cody] Ceci, bringing back Tyson [Barrie], Darnell [Nurse], among other moves?

MCDAVID: “He’s had a very busy summer, and I love all the moves. Bringing in a guy like Keith, his winning ways and the culture that he’s coming from is only going to be good things for our team. He’ll be great for us in the room. He’s got lots of game left. We just played them in the [2020 playoff] bubble and he was great. Bringing in a guy like Hyman is great for us as well. He works so hard, he’s got more skill than people realize. His ability to just play is unbelievable.

“There’s lot of guys that we brought in. Kenny’s done his job for the summer and it’s our job to put the group together and make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

Q. Does Ken go to you for any input before he makes certain moves, just to get your thoughts on potential changes or guys he might be targeting?

MCDAVID: “Kenny such a good GM. He’s built such a good relationship with his players. He certainly keeps guys in the loop — it doesn’t mean he’s asking for what we’re necessarily thinking. He definitely does a good job of keeping us in the loop. I know we all appreciate that a lot.”

Q. It’s sounding like the NHL is very close to having a deal worked out to get you guys back at the Olympics. How important is Olympic participation and the chance to win gold to you and your personal goals?

MCDAVID: “It’d be right up there with winning the Stanley Cup. Having the ability to play for your country at the Olympics and a best-on-best tournament, there’s nothing better than that. Being able to do that would be something to check off of the bucket list. And if we’re lucky enough to win a gold medal, [it’d be] so special.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Scroll Down For:

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.