Connor McDavid milestones: Oilers phenom joins Lemieux, Jagr, sets sights on Ovechkin

The Oilers phenom is the first player since 1995-96 to surpass 130 points and is closing in on a number of other major milestones.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid continues to enjoy a historic 2022-23 campaign, reaching a new milestone during Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars.

McDavid entered the night leading the NHL in goals (56) and points (129) and paved the way for his team’s 38th victory of the season by enjoying his ninth straight multi-point performance at home, becoming the first Oilers skater to do so since Wayne Gretzky in 1987-88.

Desperate for points, the 26-year-old superstar put the Oilers on his back — something he has done all season — and factored in on two of their four goals before the final horn sounded. And, like always, he continued to elevate those around him.

The current Hart Trophy favourite was defending in the dying seconds of a too many men penalty as Edmonton led 1-0 late in the first period. It wasn’t long before he imposed his offensive willpower, though, turning a goal-saving play from defenceman Vincent Desharnais into instant offence.

After Desharnais batted a rebound out of mid-air and into the corner, McDavid scooped up the loose puck before exploding up the ice with Mattias Janmark at his side, creating a 2-on-1 rush against Dallas’s lone defender. That made it easy for No. 97 to slide the puck across to his teammate, who tapped it in to make it a 2-0 score.

McDavid’s first point of the evening was his third shorthanded assist of 2022-23, tying his career-high mark, initially set in 2017-18. It also served as his 130th point on the year, making him the first NHL skater to reach that threshold since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96.

The two-time Hart Trophy winner didn’t stop there as he restored the Oilers’ two-goal lead midway through the final frame with his league-leading 57th goal, his 19th on the power play. As usual, the unstoppable McDavid-Draisaitl duo proved overpowering on the man advantage once again.

No one has been able to contain McDavid this season, as he sits atop the league with 57 goals and 131 points in 69 games, averaging a career-high 1.9 points per game. Even with 13 games remaining, the sport’s most dominant player has already accomplished several notable feats, including:

  • Setting career highs in goals, assists and points

  • Becoming the fastest skater since Pavel Bure in 1999-2000 to score 40 goals in a single season, fourth-fastest to 50 since 1995-96

  • Tying Sidney Crosby for the most 100-point seasons (six) by an active NHL player, reaching that feat in just eight seasons, 10 fewer than Crosby

  • Passing Nikita Kucherov (128) for the most points in a single season during the salary cap era, starting in 2005-06

  • Recording the fifth-fastest pace (545 games) to score 800 career points, sixth-fastest (488) to 700 points

  • Enjoying a streak of five straight multi-goal performances, joining Alexander Mogilny (1992-93), Mario Lemieux (1988-89), Punch Broadbent (1921-22) and Joe Malone (1920-21) as the only skaters to accomplish that feat

  • Tying Ryan Smyth for seventh all-time in goals (296) in franchise history, sitting two behind Draisaitl for fifth

Connor McDavid is in the midst of one of the greatest season in NHL history. (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Connor McDavid is in the midst of one of the greatest season in NHL history. (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Upcoming milestones to watch

While McDavid’s 2022-23 performance can already be cemented as one of the greatest in NHL history, the Oilers captain could add a few more accomplishments to his resume before the regular season wraps up next month.

The five-time All-Star, on pace for 68 goals this season, is just three goals shy of becoming the fourth skater since 2005-06 to reach the 60-goal mark, joining Steven Stamkos (2011-12), Auston Matthews (2021-22) and Alex Ovechkin (2007-08), who leads with 65.

McDavid is also on pace for 156 points, positioning him to join the “150 club,” which includes Gretzky, Lemieux, Bernie Nicholls, Steve Yzerman and Phil Esposito. Lemieux was the most recent skater to reach that historic threshold, scoring 161 points over 70 games in 1995-96.

With four more goals, the generational superstar can become the fifth skater in franchise history to reach the 300-mark, joining Mark Messier (392), Glenn Anderson (417), Jari Kurri (474) and Gretzky (583). Draisaitl, who sits two ahead of McDavid, is also expected to join that elite group this season.

In just his eighth NHL campaign, McDavid is widely favoured to capture his third MVP award this summer, his second in three seasons. That would tie him with Ovechkin, Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Bobby Clarke and Howie Morenz as players who have a hat trick of Hart Trophies.

Only three players in NHL history have won more than three: Gretzky (nine), Gordie Howe (six) and Eddie Shore (four). But at 26, there is still plenty of time for McDavid to be featured alongside these Hall of Fame icons.

The Richmond Hill, Ont., native is slated to add a new addition to his trophy case in 2022-23: the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, as he currently sits 11 goals ahead of the second-place holder, David Pastrnak. He also leads the Art Ross race by a wide margin, 30 points up on Draisaitl.

McDavid undoubtedly has his sights set on a much larger accomplishment, though, capturing his first Stanley Cup title, which would crown the Oilers as Canada’s first champion since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.