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Connor McDavid's historic season puts him in the class of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux

by Washington Post Sports

Connor McDavid has 89 points in 76 games this year. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

The Edmonton Oilers clinched their first postseason berth since 2006 on Tuesday night, with generational talent and team captain Connor McDavid scoring one of the team’s two goals. The goal gave him 89 points in 76 games this year, five more than Patrick Kane and seven more than Sidney Crosby and Nicklas Backstrom in the NHL scoring race.

The 20-year-old phenom is on pace to finish the season with 96 points, giving him a real chance at hitting the century mark in his final six games, putting him in an elite club with just 11 other players who managed to score 100 points in a season before their 21st birthday.

But even if McDavid doesn’t reach the 100-point plateau, he has still managed one of the most productive NHL campaigns ever by a 20-year-old.

Among the 18 20-year-olds who have scored at least as many points as McDavid this season, just one, Steven Stamkos (2010-11), has done it during a year where the league-wide goals per game average was under three. All the others, including Alex Ovechkin’s 52-goal, 106-point rookie year, enjoyed a more fertile scoring environment.

There are some big differences in point production when you look back into NHL history, with legends like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux playing when scoring was way up compared to the modern game. When you neutralize the effects of the league’s goal-rich past you see an even more brilliant picture of the Edmonton center.

If we adjust McDavid’s production to an 82-game schedule with an 18-skater roster and league averages of three goals per team per game and 1.67 assists per goal, he would have 105 points with six games to go, making this the third-best 20-year-old campaign of all time. Only Wayne Gretzky (164 points in 1980-81, 127 adjusted points) and Mario Lemieux (141 points in 1985-86, 110 adjusted points) are better after modifying for the league’s scoring environment from the bygone era.

 

 

It’s also worth noting that the Oilers get less than three power-play opportunities a game(2.9), limiting McDavid’s ability to pad his stats with points during a man-advantage. When Gretzky and Lemieux were the same age, teams were awarded between four and five power-play opportunities per game. In fact, McDavid is the best scorer at even strength this year, leading all skaters with at least 1,200 even-strength minutes played in points per 60 minutes (2.9), accounting for 83 percent of all the points Edmonton scores when he’s on the ice.

 


Written by News Desk


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