NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman made an early Friday morning appearance on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590.
After wading through the requisite discussion on the Blue Jays and Leafs, the topic shifted to the Edmonton Oilers. This talk quickly led to one of the pivotal questions of the Connor McDavid era: ‘Could we be seeing something special sort of being born in Edmonton right now?’
“I don’t know how you can argue that,” began Friedman. “I mean, McDavid is appointment television. Do you remember how that momentum was going last year before he got hurt? People were watching.
“I look at McDavid and I think now it’s hard for one player to dominate an NHL game, or a league, in this day and age. Forwards especially. Even a guy like Ovechkin doesn’t play as much – you look at ice time of an Esposito, or an ice time of a Gretzky, and you look at the ice time of Ovechkin now – forwards just don’t play that much anymore. It’s a four-line game. So it’s hard to single-handedly dominate a game. McDavid is going to put that to the test. I really believe, watching him at the World Cup and watching him in the preseason, I look at that and I say, ‘How dominant is this guy going to be?’
“I think there’s a chance he wins the scoring championship this year. A good chance if he stays healthy. Unbelievable speed. Unbelievable ability to do things with that speed. Guys have talked about how he can embarrass you when he gets on the ice. I’m just curious to see – that team as a whole, I don’t think they’re a playoff team yet. But I want to see how close he can get them there. I think he has a chance as an individual to dominate the league like people haven’t done in a long time, and I’m really curious to see it because I think he’s that good.”
Is he the most talented player Friedman has ever seen?
The Insider paused a few seconds before answering.
“I have to say this,” he qualified. “I’m too young to have really seen Orr in his prime. Everything that Gretzky did. I think he has a chance to be. I just think this era, it’s so stacked against offensive players dominating. I mean, the coaching is so good. The way the league is played, it’s so hard.
“Do you remember 15 years ago when Pedro Martinez had an ERA like two runs better than everyone else? I wonder, could (McDavid) win scoring titles by how many points? I think he has a chance to be that guy. I just think the way this game is played now, it’s really hard to be that guy.”
Source: Sportsnet 590/ Transcript: Nichols