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Why 'generational talent' doesn't do Connor McDavid justice anymore

McDavid's career scoring trajectory doesn't just put him among the best dozen or so all-time greats. It could put him in a tier only occupied by few other players.

Are you one of those “It’s way too early” people, determined to kick dirt on any factoid about an athlete’s on-pace numbers after a torrid start to a season? Stop. You’re no fun. Sports are fun, and so are stats, especially when certain breathtaking performances put players on exciting trajectories.

So, spoilsports, keep walkin'. You’re not wanted here, because it’s time to talk about Connor McDavid’s mouthwatering numbers.

We’ll start with the 17 points in seven games. He obviously won’t continue to score at a 199-point pace, but what if he scores at his career average of 1.323 points per game over his final 75 contests? He’d end up equalling his career high of 116 points, and that’s the most conservative estimate.

If we factor out the pace set in McDavid’s injury-shortened rookie season and apply his points per game from 2016-17 onward, we get a career-best pace of 120 points.

But that still feels glass-half-empty, doesn’t it? McDavid seems to be reaching a new stratosphere. His points per 60 minutes at all strengths have increased year over year by 2.1 percent, 6.1 percent and 6.5 percent. Let’s say his points per 60 increases by 6.5 percent again as he reaches what might be the peak offensive production of his career based on his age (turning 23 in January). We get 4.17 points per 60. If he maintains his current average ice time of 22:29 and scores at that clip, he’ll net 117 points in his final 75 games for a total of 134. Now it gets interesting. That would jump McDavid over Nikita Kucherov for the highest point total of the salary-cap era and most points since 1995-96. Does that feel like a stretch to anyone? Hardly.

At the very least, McDavid, health permitting, is a shoo-in to reach 100 points again. He’ll do so for a fourth consecutive time. The only other players in NHL history to notch four consecutive 100-point efforts: Mike Bossy, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Brett Hull, Jari Kurri, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Peter Stastny, Bryan Trottier and Steve Yzerman. McDavid would be the club’s 14th member, and he’s done it in a lower-scoring era. Every other player on that list was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

McDavid also looks like the obvious favorite to win the 2019-20 Art Ross Trophy as league scoring champ. He’d be the ninth player to win three scoring titles, and he’d have his third by age 23.

The other NHLers with three scoring titles before turning 24: Gretzky. That’s it. That's the list.

If McDavid wins the Ted Lindsay Award for the most outstanding player as voted by the players, he'll be the seventh to earn that honor three times, and he'll join Gretzky as the only players to win it three times by age 23, albeit the award has only existed since 1988-89.

There’s a reason we get so excited tracking McDavid’s trajectory. The team and playoff success obviously aren’t there yet, but the individual offensive pace is marvellous. He's on pace to do things only Gretzky has done. McDavid is tracking even higher than “generational talent” at this point. The arrow points toward “all-time Mount Rushmore” type of production.

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