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Could Connor McDavid reach Mount Rushmore without a Stanley Cup ring?
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We have just witnessed one of the most remarkable playoff runs in the history of the National Hockey League.

By translating his individual success into collective success, leading the Oilers through four rounds of the playoffs with 42 points in 23 games, Connor McDavid has cemented his status as the NHL’s best player.

Some would argue that he may just be the most dominant player to ever lace up skates in the sport’s long history.

Nobody does what he does. No one has done it for a long time. We’re talking about a pace comparable to all but two spring performances by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux – in another era!

Even without a Stanley Cup ring in 2024, the Conn-Smythe Trophy, though a consolation prize, is an indelible mark of a memorable spring.

A select club, probably temporary

14 active NHL players with a minimum of 500 NHL games currently average more than one point per game over their careers.

We’re talking about a select club. Only 50 now-retired players managed to maintain this average over the course of their careers, and 37 of them achieved the feat by playing more than 1,000 games.

But there’s an even more exclusive club that denies entry to every player in NHL history… Except three. The three most statistically dominant players to ever grace a rink in this league.

Thanks to an exceptional season during which he collected 100 assists, Connor McDavid now joinsWayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as the only two forwards to end their careers with an average of more than one assist per game .

With 647 assists in 645 games, McDavid is obviously far from certain to maintain this pace until he retires. After all, the Oilers captain has registered an assist per game in just three of his nine seasons so far.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’slaugh-out-loud funny that he should achieve this feat during his career, considering howunimaginable it was before his arrival on the Bettman circuit .

Dominance among active players

McDavid is a distant second to Sidney Crosby, who has registered 0.79 assists per game since being drafted.

Except that, in addition to eclipsing the competition when it comes to distribution, McDavid lets only two players surpass him in goals: Auston Matthews and Alexander Ovechkin.

And let’s be clear. If Connor decides to score more, he’ll simply score more. In 2022-2023, he finished the season with 64 goals – 24 more than Auston Matthews, the “league’s top scorer “, andwas 4 points away from doubling his assists.

Connor McDavid is in a world of his own, and destined for immortality.

His talent offers him a (very) rare chance to solidify the top-3 and more officially join Wayne and Mario at the end of his career.

So much so, that we have to start wondering what would happen to his legacy in the catastrophic scenario of him never lifting the Stanley Cup.

The road to Mount Rushmore

After nine seasons underMcJesus‘s leadership, the Edmonton Oilers have just won their first collective trophy, the King Clancy. Other than that, the captain has collected only individual trophies, more than anyone could hope for.

Let’s imagine a hypothetical, but not at all far-fetched, world in which McDavid…

  • adds 10 seasons of around 75 games to his career
  • plays a total of 1400 games
  • sees his production “plummet” to 1.35 points per game in the second half of his career
  • becomes only the second player in history to reach 2,000 points
  • never wins the Stanley Cup
Will he have dominated the circuit enough to be considered one of the few greatest players in NHL history?

I polled a few people.

Some think so. It’s harder than it used to be to be the one in thirty-two team to lift the famous trophy. If he’s unquestionably the best player of his generation and perhaps one of the few best in history, he should be on Mount Rushmore.

Some think not. After all, if you really are the best, aren’t you supposed to win in the end? Aren’t we playing for the Stanley Cup? Isn’t lifting it the stuff of legend?

I have no problem with either answer. It’s a healthy debate.

But do you understand how implausible it is that the question is actually being asked?

Could statistics alone offer Connor McDavid a place on Mount Rushmore?

I don’t think so, but the question does arise, damn it!

And if he wins?

Let’s be clear. If the above question arises, there’s another conversation worth having.

Does Connor McDavid have a real chance of dethroning Mario Lemieux?

Let’s take the CV used in the last paragraph, and add two championship rings.

The argument makes sense.

Let’s take it a step further and add a third ring.

With three Cups in a league of 32 teams or more, can we almost say he equals Gretzky’s four Cups in a 21-team league?

Would Gretzky’s unrivalled points record be too much for McDavid toshy away from?

I don’t know what kind of discussions we’d have if this scenario were to materialize.

But the question remains.

With a finals appearance in 2024, the Oilers may have unlocked their first real window of opportunity that will bring them within reach of the Cup several times over the next few years. Historically, the window for teams with a generational player opens for more than one appearance. Lemieux won two in a row. Crosby won his first Cup the year after his first loss. Gretzky won 4 times in 5 years.

And who knows what McDavid will do on an international stage that has so far been snatched away from him?

On theeve of his 10th season, during which he will blow out 28 candles, Connor McDavid has a possible chance to become the greatest player in history if he can become a true leader who offers Edmonton the same glory as #99 did in the 1990s .

But he’s got to get the ball rolling in the next few years.

Not very exciting, is it?

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