1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Look, this is Connor McDavid. He’s at the point where it’s tough to surprise us.
… Yet, I have to admit, he’s begun 2019-20 on an even hotter streak than I imagined, and for all that Edmonton might improve under Dave Tippett, it’s difficult not to chalk most of it up to McDavid, alongside Leon Draisaitl.
McDavid was outrageous on Wednesday, generating a very pretty goal and four assists for five points. Those four assists represent a career-high for McDavid.
Despite that great night, I was leaning toward giving the top star to Evander Kane until I saw this stat, which admittedly steps on the factoids section a bit:
Unless you get really obscure with a stat, it’s usually a great sign when you do something that hasn’t been done since Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky were still lacing up their skates …
2. Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks
After sitting out the first three games of the 2019-20 season thanks to a suspension, Kane generated one goal and one assist in three contests. Wednesday represented an eruption for his fourth game, then, as Kane generated a hat trick during the first period of the Sharks’ 5-2 win against the Hurricanes.
Kane also assisted on a Tomas Hertl goal, giving him a hat trick plus a helper for a four-point night.
If you think Kane deserves the nod over McDavid, I understand.
That said, three stars aren’t just a great opportunity to spotlight one wonderful performance, but also a time where it’s that much more pressing to point out a hot streak and great season. Which is why we pivot to someone whose great start might slip under the radar.
3. John Carlson, Washington Capitals
When the Caps signed Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million contract, it felt like a necessary evil. We’ve seen plenty of players age poorly, and Carlson blew away his previous career totals when he generated 15 goals and 68 points in 2017-18, helping Washington win that coveted Stanley Cup.
And then Carlson put together an even better 2018-19, scoring a resounding 70 points in 80 games.
At some point he has to slow down, right?
Maybe, but so far, it doesn’t feel like that time will be at age 29. Carlson produced three points (one goal, two assists) in Washington’s win against Toronto on Thursday, giving him an eyebrow-raising 14 points in eight games.
Those 14 points leave Carlson in third place behind McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — not just among defensemen. Suddenly, that $8M AAV starts to look like a bargain for the Capitals.
The runner-up to the runner-up for Highlight of the Night
Wednesdays aren’t usually the busiest NHL days, yet this one was ripe with great moments.
The moments have been great enough that Sidney Crosby‘s bedazzling backhander already got its own post, while Sonny Milano provided ample competition with his downright silly goal for the Blue Jackets.
The bronze medal provides gold of its own, though, as Connor McDavid reminded the world why it’s pretty easy to look like a dominant team when you can basically just lob the puck up blindly and assume that it might end up becoming a goal for 97:
PIT 3 – COL 2 (OT)
WSH 4 – TOR 3
CBJ 3 – DAL 2
EDM 6 – PHI 3
ANA 5 – BUF 2
SJS 5 – CAR 2
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.