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McDavid top preseason pick to win Hart Trophy

NHL.com panel favors Oilers center for League MVP

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid has said it time and again since winning the Hart Trophy last season: "One season doesn't make a career."

Nobody in hockey thinks McDavid is going to be a one-hit wonder. The expectation instead is that McDavid, the only NHL player to put up 100 points last season, is a 20-year-old embarking on a Hockey Hall of Fame career.

 

[RELATED: McDavid tops NHL Network's list of best players | Top 20 centers]

 

More immediately, the panel of NHL.com voters tasked with making preseason trophy predictions thinks McDavid will be a two-time Hart Trophy winner three seasons into his NHL career.

McDavid received 11 first-place votes and was one of two players named on all 17 ballots submitted. The other player to be named on all 17 ballots was Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who received four first-place votes.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos each received one first-place vote.

That McDavid beat Crosby in this preseason poll is a sign that he has either already surpassed the 30-year-old Penguins captain, a three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time Hart Trophy winner, as the player judged to be the best in the world, or he will at some point this season.

McDavid, for what it's worth, doesn't think he's there yet, telling NHL.com columnist Nick Cotsonika early last month during the NHL Player Media Tour in New York City that Crosby is the best player.

"He's done it all," McDavid said. "He's won it all."

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McDavid has a chance to do it all and win it all this season after helping the Oilers get to the Western Conference Second Round last season, when they lost in Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks. It was Edmonton's first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006.

The Oilers are among the leading contenders to finish first in the Pacific Division and to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final.

McDavid, who signed a record-setting eight-year, $100 million contract July 5, obviously is a huge part of it.

The plan for McDavid is to build on what he did last season, when he won the Art Ross Trophy with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists), becoming the first Oilers player to reach 100 points in a season since Doug Weight had 104 in 1995-96.

Edmonton finished second in the Pacific Division at 47-26-9 (103 points), including 19-5-4 in games when McDavid scored a goal. McDavid scored or assisted on 27 of Edmonton's 56 power-play goals.

It was all terrific, but pardon the greed, McDavid wants more, for himself and the Oilers.

Video: Connor McDavid takes the No. 1 spot

"I think for both it will just be the higher expectation, trying to exceed that expectation that we kind of set for ourselves last year, especially team-wise," McDavid said. "We're not going to surprise anyone anymore. Teams are going to be ready to go."

McDavid got himself ready to go this offseason by working on key aspects of his game that he thinks need improving, specifically faceoffs and his shot.

"You're always shooting pucks," McDavid said. "Faceoffs are a little bit harder to work on. There's not too many guys around the League that are looking to take faceoffs in June and July, so it's a little bit harder to work on that. But that stuff, it's just getting stronger. It's repetition. It's taking a bunch of faceoffs. So, I think I had a pretty good summer on the things that I want to work on."

The best players usually do. Then they put it on the ice when it matters and make the big difference.

McDavid did that last season. It was only a start.

"I'm a guy who wants to make a lasting impression on hockey," McDavid said, "and if I'm going to do that, I have a lot more work to do than just one season."

Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers, 78 (11 first-place votes); Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, 65 (four); Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, 29 (one); Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, 17 (one); Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, 14; Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars, 12; Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning, 10; John Tavares, New York Islanders, 4; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, 4; Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres, 4; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators, 3; Roman Josi, Nashville Predators, 3; Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets, 2; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings, 1; Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars, 1; Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets, 1; Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks, 1; Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks, 1

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