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This Is Going To Be Fun

Sidney Crosby set a tough precedent in his rookie NHL season. Can McDavid match it?

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On Saturday, April 18, 2015, at approximately 5:15 PM ET, I found myself wrapped in the arms of my good friend, Russell, bouncing around my living room, the both us shrieking like banshees in pure elation. I proceeded to lie down on my couch and laugh a sort of maniac laugh—the kind where, by the end of it, your just gulping air and gagging with a big dumb smile on your face—until I very nearly puked.

I think it's some kind of sick joke that this organization has been offered the ultimate reward for close to a decade of gross incompetence. But forget all that. I'm excited about Connor McDavid.

No one is sure what this kid is going to do in the NHL. His ceiling is as high as they come, and expectations are just as lofty. As far as comparisons for this OHL supernova go, we can look to the last generational talent to grace the hockey world spotlight—none other than Sidney "The Kid" Crosby.

Let's take a perfunctory glance at NHLe's for both players using their final regular season of major junior. I'll be using Gabe Desjardins' NHLe numbers, available here.

Employing Gabe's value of 0.28 for QMJHL production, Crosby had an NHLe of 62 points over a full NHL season after his final year with Rimouski. With Gabe's value of 0.30 for the OHL, McDavid's projected production over 82 games at the NHL level, using point totals from his most recent season with Erie, is 63—one point higher than Sid's.

This is an impressive total for McDavid, but it's worth noting that his January birthday makes him eight months older than Crosby, born in August, at the time of the draft. That said, they were physically comparable in their draft eligible seasons. According to ISS' final rankings before the 2005 draft, Crosby was 5'11'' and 180 lbs. McDavid is currently listed at 6'01'' and 187 lbs on the OHL website.

I'm not a doctor or a dietician, and this stuff must be tricky science, but the internet tells me a teenage male should gain about 2.5-5 lbs per inch. By that tenuous logic, McDavid and Crosby could have been pretty close to the same developmentally during their draft eligible seasons. Humans develop at such varying rates and it's pretty hard to pin down whether or not McDavid was benefitting over Crosby in such a small sample (two players) with such a small difference in age (8 months).

But all of that was more of an aside. The point I want to make is that Crosby came into the league as an 18 year old and blew it wide open. He scored 102 points (39 G, 63 A) in 81 games and improved the play of those who had the honour of taking the ice with him. In 2005-2006, among Penguins players who played at least 100 minutes, Crosby was third on the team in CorT% 5v5 at 46.88, behind only Colby Armstrong (46.99, 47 GP) and Andy Hilbert (47.37, 19 GP). During that season, Pittsburgh was last in the league in team CF% at 45.00.

What does it mean? Well, it seems Crosby helped his teammates perform better than the team average when they were on the ice with him, and that's a significant achievement for an 18 year old rookie on a piss-poor team. Never mind the 102 points.

Crosby came into the league and made everyone around him better. It's something that good players do in their primes, and phenomenal players can do at the tender age of 18 in their first season in the bigs. All signs suggest we should expect the same from McDavid. And as bad as the Oilers are at winning hockey games, he'll have a much stronger supporting cast than Crosby did with the Penguins in 2005-2006. The offensive potential of the Oilers' top two lines just went through the roof.

I have, for a long time now, been of the belief that no one player is going to be able to come in and save this organization.

And yet here I am, thinking exactly that—or something very close to it.

So do us a solid and fill those holes, MacT. Or whoever Bob Nicholson chooses to replace you.