For some reason, there’s been discussion lately between Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid for the NHL’s best player. While I appreciate Crosby’s hardware case and the countless iconic goals he’s scored over his career, his time as hockey’s “face of the sport” is now over. With an Art Ross, Hart & Ted Lindsay already under his belt in his first full season in the NHL, McDavid is now poised to become the most dominant player we’ve seen since Wayne Gretzky. His speed, skill and overall hockey IQ puts him in a different league than everyone else.
Now, I get the argument about Crosby still being the top dog. He changed the game when he entered the league back in 2005, much like McDavid is now. He’s a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a World Cup of Hockey champion and the winner of multiple individual awards in the NHL over his illustrious career. In terms of legacy, Sidney Crosby is still miles ahead of McDavid. But if we’re talking raw talent at this very moment, there’s nobody better than McDavid. Crosby’s edges, finesse and vision are still elite, and probably the best in all those regards, but McDavid’s speed, and what he can do at top speed, that makes him so deadly. He doesn’t have the best shot, but how he can make space for himself, with or without the puck, is also what makes him so special. While Gretzky’s greatest trait will always be his vision, and Crosby’s will always be his athleticism, McDavid’s killer trait will always be his speed.
We’re only one game into the season, and McDavid proved he’s the best, by scoring a hat-trick on opening night, with his second goal, being absolutely breathtaking.
McDavid topped out at 40 kilometres an hour, as he took the puck up the right wing, made T.J. Brodie look like he was skating in mud, before roofing it on Mike Smith at full speed. It’s goals like these that we’ve simply never seen before, not with this caliber of athletes anyways. Jaromir Jagr recently said he thinks that McDavid could score 100 goals at some point in his career, and while it sounds crazy, is it really out of the question? Nobody’s come close to Gretzky’s record of 92, and I don’t think anyone ever will, but McDavid might have the best shot at coming close. It appears McDavid will probably be more of a playmaker rather than a straight up scorer through his career, but I could see him cracking 150 points at some point in his career, especially with guys like Leon Draisaitl on his line.
As a Canucks fan, it’s going to be a long 15 years with Connor McDavid in the division, but man what a treat he’s going to be to watch.