Three years ago today, on July 5, 2017, the Edmonton Oilers signed its captain and the best player in the universe to an eight-year $100 million contract. Is he underpaid – at least according to NHL standards? Heck yes.
At the time, it wasn’t much of a surprise that McDavid became the highest-paid player in the NHL. He was then the best player in the NHL. And, go figure, he still has the highest salary-cap hit in the NHL and he’s still the best player – now. Sometimes things just don’t change.
McDavid Was the Best Three Years Ago, and Still Is
In his post today, Zach Laing pointed out the fact that, since McDavid signed his contract three years ago, he’s scored the most points in the NHL during that time (321 points) and his nearest competitor is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov, who’s scored 313.
And the Lightning had the advantage of being a really strong team for that entire period. The Oilers? Well, until this season, not so much. Can you imagine how many points McDavid will collect as the team becomes stronger and stronger?
Even when the team was not strong, McDavid was. The reason is simple: he’s at another level.
What Makes McDavid So Good?
McDavid obviously has natural gifts, but he also has a never-quit work ethic. He especially works hard on the basics, which include stickhandling, skating, and shooting. As well, similar to the Great Wayne Gretzky before him, McDavid has on-ice IQ that cannot be believed. He has that intangible sixth sense that allows him to see more both straight ahead and with his peripheral vision better than anyone else in hockey.
In addition, he cares. He’s a class act – similar to former Oiler mega-star Gretzky – who exudes a passion for the game, a respect for both his own teammates and his opponents, and an inner drive that pushes him to simply be the best. He won’t quit!
Why Is McDavid Such a Good Skater?
In addition, McDavid might be the best skater – both in terms of speed and technique – in the NHL. The key to his speed is his ability to crossover. For NHL skaters, powerful, fast crossovers are essential for building up speed.
Simply explained, a crossover is when a skater passes his outside skate over and in front of the toe of his inside skate. McDavid utilizes crossovers while powering forward and without changing his direction on the ice. That he uses crossovers yet still skates a straight line is a huge skill.
That technique makes him exceedingly fast. The effective use of crossovers enables him to build momentum and save energy, which helps him gain more power. He motors past other players almost as if they are standing still.
Is McDavid Really the Best Player in Hockey?
The Oilers fans are fortunate to be able to watch this young star play regularly. He’s clearly – at least in my book – the best player in hockey.
No one in the NHL currently can match his speed, skill, and drive. His talent and work ethic are also unmatched, and he holds that game-breaking ability that sets him apart. In addition, he’s the Oilers captain and a leader both on and off the ice.
McDavid and Edmonton Have a Long Way to Go
Unless something terribly unforeseen happens, which Oilers fans know all too well can happen with the departure of their beloved Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings for money now 30 seasons ago, Edmonton and McDavid have a lot of years left together. McDavid’s contract is signed through the 2025-26 season.
Prior to this season, there were some rumors that McDavid wanted to play with a winning team. Fortunately, he’s also teamed up with the great Leon Draisaitl, who’s an amazing player in his own right as well.
Here’s hoping the Oilers can push through to a long Stanley Cup run this season. There hasn’t been hockey joy in Edmonton for a long time. As a long-time Oilers fan, the possibility makes me want to celebrate.
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