There are many more chapters in McDavid’s legacy, win or lose.

Consider Connor McDavid’s doubts.

Not very long ago, there was a good amount of stuff in circulation. Not only from the columnist for the Miami Herald, who dubbed him overrated—a statement that would have haunted him for the rest of his life had it not accomplished its intended goal of generating debate and clicks for days on end.

Beyond that, though, there was a recurring debate about McDavid’s legacy—especially while his Edmonton Oilers were sinking in the Stanley Cup Final—which was: Did he have to win the Cup to be regarded as an all-time great? Was a championship ring necessary for McDavid to validate the hype around McJesus?

It was all rubbish.

First of all, assessing the legacy of a 27-year-old athlete is as logical as trying to operate a car that is only partially constructed. Since he entered the NHL as a youngster and won his first scoring title at the age of 20, McDavid has had a lengthy career.

He’s lived up to the predraft hype—do you recall when some experts ranked him and Jack Eichel as 1A and 1B, respectively? Despite his team’s lack of playoff success before this season, McDavid has amassed five scoring crowns and three regular-season MVP honors since his arrival.

However, that illustrates the fundamental reason why the legacy discussion is so ridiculous: Throughout McDavid’s stay in northern Alberta, the Oilers have been an unsatisfactory team. Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, their gloomy goalie tandem, went on to sign a $25 million contract with free agency Jack Campbell, who is currently playing in the lower leagues. The defenseman with the $74 million contract, Darnell Nurse, was on track to have one of the lowest plus-minus scores in NHL playoff history before the Oilers rallied to win the Stanley Cup. With the notable exception of Leon Draisaitl and, more recently, Zach Hyman, Puljujarvi, the forward selected fourth overall in the draft the year after McDavid arrived, didn’t pan out in Edmonton and is a symbol of the team’s difficulties surrounding its captain with scoring potential.

The narrative around McDavid has never been one of a generational player falling short in the postseason, but rather one of a generational player who is just not quite able to lead his club over stronger, fuller rosters. When the Oilers were eliminated by the eventual champion Avalanche in the West final of the 2022 playoffs, he had the highest point total in the NHL with 33 points in 16 games. What more was the man capable of? Take the scoring lead in the playoffs by even more? In the history of the NHL, only 11 players have ever scored more than 33 points in a single playoff game. Doug Gilmour was the only one to accomplish this feat in 1993, and he did it without going to the Cup Final.

McDavid is currently among the players who have scored more points in a single postseason than anybody else outside of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, with 42 points in 24 playoff games. Nikita Kucherov’s 34 points in 2020 was the only player in the previous 15 seasons with a total that even comes close to McDavid’s stats this year. 31 points is Sidney Crosby’s career postseason high. 25-year-old Nathan MacKinnon. I think Auston Matthews had his best postseason season ever with eleven points.

Do you want a superstar who can perform to the fullest? What about the eight points that he scored in the Finals Games 4 and 5 against the Panthers, when the Oilers were just one loss away from being eliminated? Do you want a player to produce magical moments that become part of Stanley Cup Playoffs legend? Select what you want: Game 6 of the Western Conference final saw McDavid deke two Dallas defenders to score, while Game 5 saw him go 1-on-4 against the Panthers and set up Corey Perry for a tap-in goal. These footage would go well with Bobby Orr’s 1970 airborne goal or Lemieux’s amazing goal in the 1991 Cup Final.

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