Skip to main content

McDavid feeling pressure during Oilers' losing streak

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com

EDMONTON -- Each scoreless game that Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid plays and his team does not win, the pressure grows.

Four games into his NHL career, McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has one goal, his only point of the season. He did not score in a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday in the Oilers' home opener, finishing minus-3.

It is not the start envisioned for the most anticipated player to join the League since Sidney Crosby in 2005.

"There is pressure, but as much as the pressure this team has from the outside, internally we're putting more pressure on ourselves to succeed," McDavid said Friday. "We had high expectations for this year, and obviously, starting 0-4 is not where we want to be, so we want to get this thing turned around."

The Oilers (0-4-0) will tray again for their first win Saturday at the Calgary Flames (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1). Edmonton visits the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday before returning home to play the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

Oilers coach Todd McLellan is trying to take some of the pressure off of McDavid.

"That's a tough task, he's a proud player, he's won in a lot of places that he's been," McLellan said. "He, like a lot of new people, were supposed to come in and be the savior. It doesn't happen that way, that's a fantasy world. We're dealing in reality and it takes time. He's going to evolve and develop as a dominant player in the League. [Thursday] we saw flashes of his ability and his skill and speed. He can only absorb or only needs to absorb, 1/20th or 1/23rd or 1/30th if you throw the staff in, of that responsibility."

McDavid, 18, has been in the spotlight since granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada in 2012, allowing him to play in the Ontario Hockey League at 15.

The Oilers won the No. 1 pick at the NHL Draft Lottery in April. He is the Oilers fourth No. 1 selection in the past six drafts, joining Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) and Nail Yakupov (2012).

"I think it goes without saying that there is a lot of pressure on me," McDavid said. "There are expectations that people have put on me, whether that's media or outside people, it doesn't really matter. I think it's there and something that I'm going to have to deal with. There is nothing I can do about it, so I might as well just learn to live with it."

McDavid is expected to score at a more consistent rate. His skill level and maturity makes it easy to forget he is a first-year player trying to navigate the most competitive hockey league in the world.

"What makes him feel it more, is when he deals with the media and the hockey world, he feels like it's on him," McLellan said. "I've spent some time with him talking to him about that. He's still 18 and he knows that. You just have that feeling [of pressure] when you're him."

McLellan is trying to deliver the message that it is not on McDavid alone to turn around the fortunes of the Oilers, who have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006.

"That's what he's faced with," McLellan said. "He's accepting more than he needs to accept with now as far as the wins and losses. He has to accept his game on the ice and his responsibilities, but it isn't just on his shoulders. He gets whatever the ratio is of responsibility."

View More