Connor McDavid (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Edmonton Oilers wunderkind came back from his collarbone injury with a vengeance, tallying three points in a destruction of Columbus. One of those points came on a goal that was absolutely beautiful. Can McDavid's highlights propel a late rookie of the year push?
So you may have heard that Edmonton's Connor McDavid scored a not-ugly goal last night against Columbus. No? Well, feast your eyes on The Goodness:
That's something else. Never mind that Jack Johnson and Justin Falk looked completely lost on the play; McDavid still made a bunch of moves that only a handful of players on Earth could pull off in an NHL game.
With three points on the evening, McDavid boosted his season totals to 15 points in 14 games. The broken collarbone sustained against Philadelphia in early November pushed him way down in the rookie points race, but now that the kid is back without missing a beat, you can't really count him out of the Calder race, can you?
Look at it this way: McDavid is the only rookie scoring more than a point per game right now and given that Edmonton is likely going to play loose for the rest of the season (they ain't making the playoffs, so they might as well have fun), the chances for offense will be abundant. McDavid has 31 games remaining on the schedule and does anyone doubt he could score at least a point per game, if not more in that span?
If he does, he will give himself a legitimate shot and here's the dirty secret why: The Calder is voted on by hockey writers and I'm not sure they want Chicago's Artemi Panarin to win. There are some pretty convenient excuses to line up: Panarin is older (24), he has already played years of pro in the KHL and he gets to play on a line with Patrick Kane, who is running away with all sorts of trophies this summer.
I believe this to be unfair, since it takes a lot of skill to play with an elite producer such as Kane – look at all the problems Pittsburgh has had finding guys to play with Sidney Crosby, for example. Also, the only age rule for the Calder is that a player be under 26 by Sept. 15 of that season. But I guarantee you more than one Johnny Hot Take out there is going to ignore that.
If McDavid can score say, close to 60 points in 45 games this season, that would be quite impressive. The Golden Boy will have all sorts of narratives going for him and if the Oilers jump up the standings a bit in the process (nowhere to go but up right now), that will only further his resume.
And hey, if he falls to Panarin or Dylan Larkin or any other worthy candidate, it's not the end of the world. Crosby didn't win the Calder and neither did Jonathan Toews. But I can guarantee you that McDavid will make things interesting from here on out.