Connor McDavid ready for a Stanley Cup championship

Connor McDavid doesn’t give the comparison much credibility. The phenomenon placed under the microscope from an early age. The young p...


Connor McDavid doesn’t give the comparison much credibility.

The phenomenon placed under the microscope from an early age. The young professional who challenged with ease and grace already disproportionate projections. A generational talent nestled in one of the smallest markets in his sport.

“I think if you want to compare LeBron James and me, I think we’re obviously a little different,” said McDavid, 24, the handyman center for the Edmonton Oilers. “He’s won countless titles and been in the final for several years and I haven’t done any of that. I definitely still have a lot to learn and that’s kind of where I’m from, that’s what I think.

McDavid’s penchant for underestimating doesn’t allow him to spend much time on the subject. But obvious parallels exist between McDavid and James. Like James in open court, a sense of anticipatory excitement develops whenever McDavid and the puck meet in space.

“As soon as he gets it you think he’s going to score,” said Mike Smith, the veteran Edmonton goaltender, happy to see McDavid now running away from him rather than towards him like earlier in his career. “The way he can create space for himself, the way he can hold his edges and the way he can generate speed with the puck is unlike anyone else.”

And like James earlier in his career, McDavid’s singular artistry and impact is unparalleled as he seeks a playoff breakthrough. James didn’t win the first of his four NBA championships until his ninth season.

McDavid totaled 105 points, with 33 goals and 72 assists, in last season’s pandemic-truncated 56-game schedule, only for the Winnipeg Jets to quickly knock Edmonton out of the playoffs in a first sweep. round.

If he maintained his 1.88 points per game from 2021 on a traditional 82-game season, that would translate to 154 points, putting McDavid in rarefied territory with Wayne Gretzky, who McDavid has apparently been compared to since he picked up. a stick like a child. McDavid won his second Hart Trophy, doing so unanimously and joining Gretzky as the only players to win the MVP award.

“Every year you always say, ‘I don’t know how he’s going to take it to another level,” said Darnell Nurse, an Edmonton defenseman. “He always finds another way to do it and last year was the perfect example.”

Edmonton lost one of its best regular seasons during McDavid’s tenure in 2021, finishing 35-19-2.

The Oilers have won only one playoff series, a first-round victory over San Jose in 2017, in McDavid’s six seasons in the NHL. The franchise had missed out on the playoffs every year before this series win, a drought that began after their loss in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final is about how they ended up with the No.1 pick. 1 in the 2015 draft which scored McDavid in first place.

The goal remains the same as when McDavid arrived in Edmonton as a fresh-faced teenager pinned down with hopes of a franchise: to restore the discouraged Oilers to their Gretzky-era level of importance.

“I don’t think we’re the young ones anymore, but we’ve always been seen as a young team and we’ve always found our way together and we’ve kind of done that and learned our lessons and I think now it’s It’s time for us to put it all together and somehow grow, ”McDavid said.

McDavid will be at Edmonton’s pace again, with another former Hart winner Leon Draisaitl. Edmonton GM Ken Holland has entered a busy offseason by adding defensemen Cody This and Duncan Keith, and forwards Warren Foegele, Zach Hyman and Derek Ryan.

McDavid is the highest-paid player in the NHL and in the fourth year of an eight-year, $ 100 million contract, but he sees himself as one of the players who needs to improve for Edmonton is making the playoffs, even though its game has left it largely unmatched.

“I’m just as responsible as the next guy, and I think my game has to change as well for us to be successful and he still has to change, and I admit that,” McDavid said.

McDavid, cautiously and cautiously, makes a point of being more vocal, illustrated by the fact that he recently called the defense of Brandon Tanev of the Calgary Flames “dangerous” or even agreed to a relatively rare one-on-one interview.

“For me on the media side, I’ve always been a little bit calmer and just did enough to get by,” McDavid said. “I was always trying to find my place in the game and to find my place in the hockey world. As for my seventh year, I’m just starting to feel comfortable and feel like maybe I can share my opinion a little bit and not be told to go push her somewhere. , and that’s fine too, if that happens, but just feel more comfortable and feel a little better about using my voice and sharing what I have, some of my opinions on things.

Nurse, who lived with McDavid early in his NHL career, said McDavid is full of personality behind the scenes.

“He has lived in the spotlight since he was a teenager as the best hockey player in Canada and then in the world,” said Nurse. “So he’s been living in the spotlight for so long. And with this projector comes a lot of expectations. What makes him so special is that he doesn’t have to say much to get his point across.

McDavid is the face of his sport and now he can be seen more widely across the United States.

This season, ESPN will broadcast NHL games nationwide for the first time in 16 years, with Turner Sports. Edmonton is scheduled to play nine nationally televised games, including six against Turner, more than any other team on the network. Gretzky, the flag bearer, stepped down as Edmonton vice president in May and will be a studio analyst for Turner.

“We kind of feel like a small town team, just in the sense that we’re not the biggest market in the world, but for us to get that national TV time, and in the US too, I think it’s exciting for us. I think we want to become one of those teams that everyone wants to watch, ”McDavid said.

Gretzky a predicted that it’s not about whether McDavid will lift the Stanley Cup, but when. McDavid’s teammates have finished predicting what kind of cap exists.

“From a stranger you see the highlights every night, but what people don’t understand is the stuff he does that doesn’t get set up, where he does things in-game and in-game. “said Smith. “Three or four times a game, you kind of look at the bench and everyone is looking at each other, like, ‘Did you see that? “”

Some of McDavid’s offseason is devoted to fine-tuning the quieter components of his game, like faceoffs. He has asked Nurse to practice with him this summer to build momentum for the new season. “His dedication and attention to detail, really, there’s no way to have any expectations for the year ahead because you never know what he can bring,” Nurse said.

One of the areas McDavid hopes to improve is his defense, which begs the hypothetical question:

How would McDavid stop McDavid?

“I am not answering that question,” he replied. “I’m not revealing any secrets. “

Even a superstar without a cap like McDavid has his limits.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Connor McDavid ready for a Stanley Cup championship
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