Over the past few days, I’ve been looking at players with an unmeasurable, but distinct ability to make you jump our of your seat in awe. In Part One, I profiled Peter Forsberg, Part Two was Pavel Bure, and Part Three covered Sidney Crosby. Each of these players keep you guessing, not if they’re going to make you cheer, but how. They all have their own unique ability to break a game wide open on their own.
There were some questions on why I picked those players, specifically. More so on some of the comments I made in Part One, but the answer should be fairly obvious. This is an Oilers blog after all. Forsberg had amazing vision, allowing him to dominate the competition by making plays no one saw coming. Pavel Bure had the speed that set him apart from everyone, when he was going full speed, no one could catch him. Sidney Crosby has puck control, and hand-eye to beat any defender one way or another, he also has an incredible work ethic, to boot.
So what happens when you take each of those players best qualities and put it into one player? Well, you have the greatest player in the word. One that’s likely to hold that distinction for another 10 years. Connor McDavid.
The vision and moves of Forsberg.
The relative-to-league speed of Bure.
And the puck skills of Sidney Crosby.
He makes the difficult look easy, has two consecutive Art Ross trophies to go along with his two Ted Lindseys and Hart Trophy, and amazingly, should only be getting better at age 21. Connor McDavid has it all, and at times it looks like nothing is going to stop him.
He had strep throat earlier in the year, even that was only enough to slow him down to a point per game pace. It appears that not even biological warfare would be enough to keep him from scoring at will.
This isn’t about how good he is though, we all know how good he is. This is about the Wow Factor. His ability to make you awe in wonder, and excitement. He can have a sixteen minute highlight video, and even that doesn’t do him justice.
The problem with highlights, is that they typically only show the scoring plays. For McDavid, that’s not too much of a problem given that he scores so many points, but it doesn’t get the message across the way it should.
It’s not unusual for McDavid to have 3+ breakaways per game. He had five in his first game of the year last year. To truly appreciate McDavid, you have to watch him frequently to see just how much he does well, and how consistently. Every time he’s on the Ice, even a team as bad as the Oilers are going to have a scoring chance.
The best way to gauge his talent, and his incredible ‘Wow’ Factor, is to talk to an Oilers fan. Back before the McDavid era, no one watched the Oilers once they were out of the playoff race. Not unless they were cheering for the other team, anyway. Now, it’s not as hard to watch a losing season. At the very least, you know you’ll see something exciting as he pushes through for another Art Ross.
Anecdotally, even the sports bars around here have benefited through his ‘Wow’ Factor. In past seasons, once the Oilers were done, the game day specials disappeared, people weren’t going out to watch a game, they’d simply go find a better way to utilize their time. With McDavid in the game, that’s not the case. People still don’t want to miss anything, opening a sports bar used to be a really bad idea during the Decade of Darkness, with Connor McDavid, it’s actually not a bad idea.
Sure, when the team actually made the playoffs, bars were given a free pass to print money, and I’m sure they’re hoping for that again, but at the moment, even just having McDavid on the roster is enough to get people interested. It’s can’t miss television.
Connor McDavid is likely going to go down near the top of adjusted statistical categories, there is no part of his game that isn’t tremendous. As far as ‘Wow’ Factors go, he’s above everyone in the league today, and it’s not really that close.
I’m sure in 35 years, these highlights won’t hold up to what will be the modern game, but for right now, it is our obligation to appreciate this player for what he is. He’s the best parts of some of the best players in league history. He’s changing zone coverage of the defense, transitions of the offense, and although I know nothing on goalies, I’m sure he’s got them guessing too.
I thought I needed to describe the ‘Wow’ Factor a bit more in this series, but it turns out it didn’t really need four parts. If you want to know the Wow Factor, it’s simple, it’s Connor McDavid.
If only we could get a team around him...