The National Hockey League season wasn’t yet four weeks old when I wrote about how Edmonton Oilers’ superstars Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid were on pace to reach 100 points in this shortened 56-game season.
There was a lot of talk at the time about the duo hitting the century mark, though it was mostly just fun to imagine. Scoring at that rate for only a dozen or so games was in itself incredible, but to keep it going for another three months? That simply wasn’t realistic.
Reality did eventually catch up with Draisaitl, but McDavid continues to defy it. And with the Oilers captain scoring both of his team’s goals in a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place on Thursday, which lifted Edmonton into a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs atop the North Division standings, it can be said that stuff just got real.
McDavid now has an NHL-leading 58 points (20 goals, 38 assists) in 33 games, putting him on a 56-game pace for 98 points. To reach 100 points, McDavid needs 42 in Edmonton’s remaining 23 games, which may seem impossible, until you realize it’s just one more point than the 41 he’s racked up in his previous 23 games.
One for the Ages
What we’re witnessing from McDavid is shaping up as one of the all-time great seasons in more than a century of NHL hockey. He’s currently averaging 1.76 points per game, an incredible number that would rank 29th all-time in a single season and is even more appreciable with added context.
For starters, 1.76 points would be the highest average by any player in a season which the league-wide average for goals in a game is less than six (this season’s average is currently just over 5.5 goals per game). It would also be the most in 25 years, since Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux averaged 1.82 and 1.79, respectively, in 1995-96. And McDavid would be only the 12th different player to average that many points in at least one season; the others are all in the Hall-of-Fame.
But most notably, of the 283 times a player has scored 100 points in a single season, no one has done it playing less than 61 games (Adam Oates with 115 points in 1990-91). The most points any player has scored while suiting up for less than 60 games is 93 (Pat Lafontaine in 57 games in 1991-92).
Can’t Forget About Drai
Not to be overlooked is the production of Draisaitl, who by any measure is having a spectacular campaign: He’s second in the NHL with 49 points (17 goals, 32 assists) through 33 games, which projects to 83 points in 56 games, and his average of 1.48 points is only slightly under off his rate from last season (1.55 per game) when Draisaitl captured the Art Ross Trophy with 110 points in 71 games.
With 25 points through Edmonton’s opening 14 games, Draisaitl was on pace for exactly 100 in 56. But he had “only” eight points in the next 10 games, knocking Draisaitl so far off the 100-point pace that the reigning Hart Trophy winner would need to score like Wayne Gretzky in the ‘80s to have any hope of reaching triple digits.
McDavid has avoided all but the slightest misstep that would trip him up this 100-point sprint. After going pointless in three straight losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs three weeks ago, McDavid has erupted for eight goals and 12 assists in the proceeding eight games.
Another stretch of three games without a point might be too much for McDavid to overcome, but considering that’s now happened only three times since he entered the NHL in 2015, the odds are probably better that he’ll hit 100 points than go a week without soring.
Next up is for McDavid and Co. is a rematch with the Winnipeg Jets at home on Saturday, when a win would ensure the Oilers maintain at least a share of first place in the division.
A couple of points from McDavid would go a long way to helping his team pick up those crucial two points in the standings. And a three-point night would put him on pace for 100. Doesn’t seem so far-fetched now, does it?