For all Connor McDavid has achieved with the Oilers it still isn't enough

While Connor McDavid continues to rack up individual achievements, how much does it really matter if he doesn't help the Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup?
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages

This season was always going to represent a difficult encore, following on from a sensational 2022-23 campaign by Connor McDavid. Called the Season of the Century by CBC, he had a career-high 153 points which were the most by a player since 1996, while effectively sweeping the board by winning the Art Ross and Hart Memorial Trophies, the Ted Lindsay Award and his first ever Rocket Richard Trophy.

Still, the 2023-24 regular season did prove to be another excellent overall campaign by McDavid, even despite missing six games due to minor injuries and rest. Chief among his accomplishments, was becoming just the fourth player in NHL history to reach 100 assists in a season. (He was soon joined by the Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov as the fifth.)

The 27-year-old also earned his seventh NHL All-Star selection, as he continues to rack up an almost surreal number of individual accolades as the best hockey player of this generation. However, the key word in that previous sentence is 'individual'.)

For all McDavid achieved last season, the Edmonton Oilers ultimately failed to win the Stanley Cup, ousted in the second round by the Vegas Golden Knights, the eventual champions. Despite scoring the most goals in the NHL and setting a new power-play efficiency record during the 2022-23 campaign, it didn't count for much for the Oilers once the playoffs began.

Falling short again and again

And really that's been the overriding narrative during McDavid's time in the NHL, having yet to win the Stanley Cup in eight seasons. Only once have the Oilers made it to the Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in 2021-22, who also went on the claim the Holy Grail.

Of course we appreciate that hockey is up there among the ultimate team games, with everyone having to play their part in order to win. There is only so much a superstar talent such as McDavid can do, especially in the salary cap era.

At the same time however, you still can't go through you career without at least one Stanley Cup, if you are to truly take your place as one of the very best players of all time. However, this is exactly the quandary the three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner currently finds himself in, after nine regular seasons.

Let's be clear at this point, in stating that a championship isn't the be-all and end-all per se for McDavid. For example, Dan Marino is still regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, despite having never hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy.

A fair argument against or not?

However -- fair or not -- not having at least one Super Bowl ring does still get held against Marino to a certain extent, when discussing the best ever at his position. Unfortunately for McDavid, the same argument holds true to a certain extent, when it comes to not having won a Stanley Cup.

Let's compare the Oilers captain against Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby, who were similarly generational talents and in the case of the former, the best of all time in the NHL. Gretzky won four Stanley Cups during his career, with the first coming at age 23, while Crosby has so far won three, with his inaugural one coming at the age of 21.

To be clear, McDavid does not go missing when it comes to the playoffs, unlike someone such as the Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews. Entering Monday night's opening game versus the Los Angeles Kings, he has 75 points in 49 career playoff games.

However, to date the 2015 first overall draft pick has only had one subliminal postseason, with him producing 33 points in 16 playoff games during the 2021-22 campaign. It comes as no surprise this was the season the Oilers advanced furthest, albeit while still falling short.

In this respect McDavid does have the capability, but he needs to show he can reach and indeed surpass these heights again in the coming weeks. It would undoubtedly galvanise arguably the best roster he's played on in his time with the Oilers.

Next. Oilers injury news and roster moves ahead of playoffs. Oilers injury news and roster moves ahead of playoffs. dark

Overall, we realise that every set of circumstances, every career, etc, is unique and also aided -- or compromised -- by luck. However, it doesn't change the reality that McDavid is going to have to deal with unfavourable comparisons to the likes of Gretzky and Crosby until he can finally break through and wins the Stanley Cup; the alternative doesn't bear thinking about for the Oilers and their fans.

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