You watch Connor McDavid, and his incredibly quick feet, first step, and ability to slip through the slightest cracks between defenders is incredible. It makes you wonder what can keep him from owning every record in the books. His feet seem to almost never touch the ice, a Fred Astaire (from what my grandfather tells me) on ice. He is neck and neck with Sidney Crosby as the best offensive player in the game and slightly above Evgeni Malkin.
At 2o years old, he just recorded his first 100 point season. He can kill a team almost without thinking and just reacting. He showed his play making abilities, his awesome vision from the perimeter, but also a fear of going to the net. His shot is quick and accurate, but not overly powerful. So much of his scoring plays are created on odd man rushes, so physical and disciplined teams know what to expect and can game plan against him (Anaheim did it perfectly).
The major problem is his unwillingness to dig and take punishment to make plays. He doesn't get dirty, doesn't stand up for himself, and when Brandon Manning accidentally tripped him in the boards, he called on all the Oiler tough guys to handle it. You gotta wonder how much his teammates will take before he needs to stand up for himself, and how much of a better player he'll become.
THEN, reality rears its ugly head. Look at the rec0rds McDavid has in front of him and it's a daunting, if not impossible task to beat even a handful of them. Gretzky seems to have 99% of the NHL's records, and they are far beyond approachable. Gretzky is most known for setting up in his office behind the net, which he openly credits to one of his idols, Bobby Clarke, but he was even more deadly on the rush. Gretzky also used an elusive, gliding, and East to West game where he'd create angles and force the "D" to pressure him or back off. Then he'd shoot, curl to the open space, and the assassin's linemates knew to drive to the net or find a shooting lane. Gretzky saw plays evolve from his own zone and finished them at the other.
Though McDavid is just 20, the crystal ball is right in-front of us. McDavid is a predator on the ice and can kill a defense swiftly. But to catch Gretzky and brake any of his records, like#99, McDavid's game and attack will eventually need to evolve and adapt. If he does, and the NHL finally trims an inch all around the goalies' blocker, glove, and 3 inches off the top of their obnoxious leg pads, there are certain records that can now sport his, and other players' names.
15 Could Beat: 4 Goals In 1 Period
On February 1981, Gretzky lit up the Blues with 4 goals in the 2nd period, and that record was tied this year by Patrick Marleau. Marleau scored 4 goals in 1 period vs Colorado, and if the 37 year old can do it, McDavid can do it "and 1." This is the first record McDavid beats. He already has a two goal period against Calgary in 2017.
In NHL history, 1,162 times a player has scored a hat trick in a period so it's more than a good bet McDavid will do it. If it happens in the 3rd period, and it will, he could beat the record more than once. With coaches pulling their goalies earlier than ever, in a 1 or 2 goal game he could conceivably score 2 empty net goals. Then again, he could fast break his way to 3 and net a couple power play goals when a frustrated player takes a 5 minute major.
14 14. Won't Beat: 894 Goals
Gretzky has 894 goals, the NHL record, which is 145 more goals than Jaromir Jagr who is 45 years old. Jagr says he wants to play until he's 50 (PLEASE DON'T), which means he'll need to average 29 goals per season to match Gretzky, which he hasn't done in 10 years.
So for #97, who in two seasons has 46 goals (I know he was hurt but everyone gets hurt), he'll need to play 38 more seasons to touch it. So you want to say he was on pace f0r 40, OK, I'll bite. If he were to average 40 goals per season, he'd have to play 22 and a half more years, until he was 43. Forget it, won't happen, absolutely not. Furthermore, McDavid has established himself as more of a play maker than a goal scorer, and he'll need to shoot the puck a lot more to even have a chance.
13 Could Beat: 7 Assists In A Game
Gretzky had 7 assists in a game, three times at home and once on the road. McDavid may not get 8 assists in a game even twice, but he can do it once. In 2017, he had 3 assists in 3 different games, and if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, he does it in a wild West shoot out in Arizona or Colorado.
Here's how it would happen. On a snowy February night, when the East coast loses power with 4 inches of snow, McDavid and company roll into Arizona after the Yotes fly home at 6 in the morning from Boston. The Oilers shoot a round of golf, sit by the pool, and come out roaring by taking a 3 goal lead in the first, with 3 assists for #97. Max Domi gets a 5 minute major for crosschecking McDavid into the boards, and #97 gets even by getting two assists on the major to start the second. Now he's at 5 assists, the record is in sight, and he gets 1 more in the 2nd, 2 in the 3rd, and the record falls.
12 Won't Beat: 1,963 Career Assists
In one magnificent game against a dead Coyote team, McDavid sets the record for 8 assists in a game, but he'll NEVER get close to Gretzky's career total of 1,963. To beat this record, McDavid would need 1,861 more assists. To make the number more comprehendible, he'll need 100 assists per season for the next 18, and when he's 39, come back and get 64 more. The last player to get close to 100 assists in a season was Joe Thornton in 2005-06, when he posted 96. A year later, Joe had 92, and it doesn't get any better. Now the Oil may strike Gold in upcoming drafts and free agency, but in today's game, where fewer and fewer teams are simply there for the feasting, this record will never be broken. And oh by the way, Gretzky still has more assists than any other player has total points.
11 Could Beat: 11 Art Ross Trophies
Last season, McDavid earned his 1st Art Ross and he's only got to lead the NHL in scoring for 10 more seasons to give him 11 Art Ross trophies, one more than the current record holder, Wayne Gretzky. Not to take anything away from #97, but if Crosby, Nikita Kucherov, and Malkin weren't hurt, they were on pace to outscore him and #97 would have to start from scratch. But here we are, and Sid and Geno, who have two each, are always missing games, so there are only a handful of players that pose a real threat.
If McDavid stays healthy and fulfills the high expectations, he captures 6 more before he's 30 for a total of 7. Then, we'll see how lucky, skilled, and adaptable he is if he can win 4 more in his 30s. He's also got to hope "the next one" is younger than 4 years old which will keep him out of the NHL for 14 years.
10 Won't Beat: 215 Points In A Season
In 1985-86, Gretzky had 52 goals, 163 assists, 215 points (and by the way, he was a + 71), so this record of 215 points is here to stay. Connor won't even sniff it, and for that matter no one will. In 1992-3, Mario Lemieux scored 69 goals, 61 assists, and had 160 points in 60 games. Amazingly, even at that pace he wouldn't have beat the record. McDavid, during a monster year would have to average about 2.7 points per game to beat the record.
Go for it young man, but the smart money is Gretzky's record sticks around forever. But McDavid fans shouldn't worry because #99 is the only other player to even get close to own record, when in 1981-82 he scored 212 points.
9 Could Beat: 15 Overtime Assists
Gretzky also holds the record for 15 overtime assists, and though that may not seem like a lot, that was in the era of 5-on-5 overtime. Now, we're in the new NHL and the age of 3-on-3 overtime so this one is breakable. In 2016-17, the Oil went 6-4 in the extra session and McDavid had 3 overtime assists. The Oil didn't get into over time very often. However, Chicago went 9-8, Montreal went 11-7, Detroit won 9 out of 22, the Kings won 12 and lost 4, and the Devils went 7-11.
Now if McDavid's Oilers can get themselves in that many overtime games, McDavid will get his assists and pile it on. He's on pace to break this record by the time he's 25, so we're talking that within five years this record will be his. The rest is gravy baby, and McDavid SMASHES the record.
8 Won't Beat: Three Consecutive 200-Point Seasons
Wayne Gretzky holds the record of three consecutive 200 point seasons, that Connor and no one else will ever break. In 1983-84, Gretzky had 205 points, the next year he had 208, and in 1985-86 he scored 215. And by the way, he also scored 212 points in 1981-82 which is another record of four seasons scoring 200 or more points, but I'm not even going to include that. Either way, three consecutive 200 point seasons or 4 in a career is incredibly out of reach. Even if McDavid were to average 2 points a game for one season, that's 164 points, and still 36 points short of 200.
For anyone to score 200 points in this age of year round training, training, skilled players filling 4 lines, and the gigantic goalie pads would be a miracle. But three years in a row? No way.
7 Could Beat: 14 Assists In One Playoff Series
In the 1987 Division Finals vs the Kings, Gretzky set the record for the most assists in one series, not including the Finals, with 14. Now he did it in five games, but that's a discussion for another day.
Here's how I see it happening: In a seven game series, McDavid can average 2 assists per game, and then get his third in Game 7, double overtime, in the new Battle of Alberta, vs. the Calgary Flames. To be even more precise, he'll set up his linemate, Leon Draisaitl, on a 2 on 1, in the 2018-19 Pacific Division Finals. Wayne and his family will be there to see his record fall, but all his grandchildren will at least be wearing throwback #99 jerseys. We already know McDavid has been able to average two assists per game in 3 and 4 game bursts, so move over #99 on this one too.
6 Won't Beat: 79-Point Margin Between Art Ross Winner & Runner-Up
In the 67th NHL season, 1983-4, Grtezky won the Art Ross with 87 goals, 118 assists, and 205 points. Right on his tail that year was fellow teammate and defenceman, Paul Coffey, with 40 goals, 86 assists, and 126 points. So what is the record? It's that #99 beat the runner up by 79 points, which is the greatest margin in history. McDavid scored a terrific 100 points this year but Crosby and Kane were tied at 2nd with 89 points, an 11 pt margin of victory. To have beaten Gretzky's record, they would would have needed to score just 2o points. In today's NHL, the only player with 20 points who played in all 82 games was Winnipeg defenseman, Josh Morrissey, who had 6 goals and 14 assists. By the way, he was 348th in the league.
5 Beat: Assist In 23 Straight Games
So another record Gretzky just happens to hold is during the 1990-91 season, he had an assist in 23 consecutive games. Amazing, I know, but McDavid can beat this. In 2016-17, he had assists in 4 and 5 straight games 2 times each. More impressive, towards the end of the season, he had assists in 12 of 14 March games and assists in all five April games. All together, that's 15 of 17 games with an assist, which is "kinda-sorta" close. If we use unregulated accounting standards, we can assume he's already had a streak of 17 games. Can he add another six in a row? He did five games twice, so why not. He can get this one, and relatively soon.
4 Won't Beat: 50 Goals In 39 Games
Not surprisingly, #99 also holds the record for being the fastest player to score 50 goals, which he did in the 39th game of the 1981-82 season. He set this record in one of the greatest games of his career. Going into the game against the Flyers, he had 45 goals in Edmonton's first 38 games. Gretzky went on to score four goals and the Oilers were winning 6-5 when the Flyers pulled Pete Peeters. Sure enough, Gretzky scored his 5th goal into the empty net for his 50th goal.
Gretzky is also in 2nd place, with 50 goals in 42 games in 1983-84, and Lemieux is 3rd. He scored his 50th in his 44th game during the 1988-89 season. As of now, we know McDavid just netted his first 30 goal season, but to score 50 in 39 is just too ridiculous.
3 Could Beat: 10 Assists In The Stanley Cup Final
This one falls within five years. Back in 1998, Gretzky had 10 assists in the Finals when Edmonton beat Boston in a 4 game sweep. McDavid could break this record when Edmonton finally takes the torch from the Penguins in 2020 in seven games (calling it right now).
He does it with room to spare and with 13 assists in the 7 game series where Edmonton wins the cup at home in a 4-1 blowout. Crosby and Malkin will be too hurt to skate in Game 7 and Murray will be under siege. The Great One will be there with his entire family sitting in the box. The city will be crazy, and when the record breaking assist comes the entire stadium will be standing and waving blue and orange pom poms.
2 Won't Beat: 92 Goals In A Season
In 1981-82, Gretzky scored 92 goals. The following year he netted 71, and in 1983-4 he scored 87. Three consecutive years of scoring 70 plus goals was already the record, but for good measure he scored 73 in 1984-85 to cap off an unbeatable record of 4 straight years with more than 70 goals. Going back 17 years to 2000, only one player has scored over 60, and that was once, by Alex Ovechkin. During the 2007-08 season when he scored 62, it was the 26th highest total.
I would like to think McDavid will score 63 and beat out Ovie, or maybe in one amazing season let fans watch him get 70, but these records are just too untouchable. The goalies equipment is just too big, the gloves, leg pads, and there just isn't any way that anyone will ever touch this.
1 Could Beat: 31 Assists In One Playoff
In 1988, #99 set the record (I know, Groundhog's Day), for most assists in one playoff year with 31 in, um, 19 games. But we're not going by games. Just this year, Malkin has 17 assists in 20 games (as of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final), and at most, he could play six more games. If he maintains this pace, that's 24 assists in 26 games. McDavid could average an assist per game in the playoffs, and sprinkle in a couple 2 or 3 assist games in between.
If McDavid can average more than one assist and play multiple seven game series, like the Bruins did in 2011, he's got it.
I say McDavid breaks this record during his 2nd, and final Stanley Cup championship before he's 30 years old, giving us all a break in counting Wayne's records.
Honorable Mention- Gretzky has the record for 3 assists in one playoff period. That one will also be GONE.