Ahead of the 2018-19 season, EdmontonOilers.com is taking a look back at the '17-18 individual performances of the Oilers in our series 'Roster Redux'
EDMONTON, AB - Connor McDavid did all he could and more.
The Oilers Captain suited up in all 82 of his club's outings in 2017-18, establishing career-highs in goals (41) and points (108) despite battling an early season sickness, which was no detriment to the star's production.
The centre had 32 multi-point performances, scored 26 goals in the final 33 games of the season - at one point lighting the lamp four times in one game - and was by far the biggest 5-on-5 threat in the National Hockey League, compiling 84 even strength points.
Video: RAW | McDavid Exit Interview
The end result was yet another Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award-winning year, as McDavid became just the second player alongside only Wayne Gretzky to win the scoring title multiple times by the age of 21 years old or younger. He also became the first player to win the title in back-to-back seasons since Jaromir Jagr did so in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
But the Newmarket, ON, native would trade all the individual accolades in return for another shot at playoffs, where McDavid hopes to be back next April.
"The individual stuff doesn't really matter, ultimately," said McDavid in his exit interview. "That's what drives me and that's what pushes me, to win."
Game 1 of '17-18 could have been seen as a foreshadowing, of sorts.
Edmonton welcomed the Calgary Flames into town for the first Battle of Alberta of the year. McDavid made it rain hats and goaltender Cam Talbot made no mistakes, as Edmonton edged their provincial foes 3-0 to begin the campaign in the win column.
But by December 31, 2017, the Oilers owned a 17-19-3 record - seven regulation losses short of their '16-17 total. The special teams were struggling, players were nursing injuries while others weren't performing to their ability. Leon Draisaitl - who ruined opposing defensive efforts nightly with McDavid a season prior - was middleman on a separate line and Patrick Maroon was dealt during the NHL Trade Deadline, forcing McDavid to gain comfort alongside a new set of linemates late in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ty Rattie.
The chemistry was forming but the squad finished the campaign 36-40-6, with 25 fewer points than last year.
Video: TBL@EDM: McDavid pours in four goals vs. Lightning
"I think Peter alluded to it earlier when he said, 'Death by a thousand cuts.' I think that's probably the best way to put it," McDavid said of the cause for his team's shortcomings. "When the power play was going well, the penalty kill wasn't going well. When we were scoring goals, we couldn't keep them out of our net. When we were stopping goals, we couldn't score.
"Everything that went wrong went wrong and we have to figure it out."
The young leader is confident his group can return to the form they had when they were one win away from the 2017 Western Conference Finals. An improved power play and penalty kill, in addition to a motivated batch of players eager to prove their last postseason run was much more than a one-off are reasons for optimism.
"We're definitely a lot closer than our record shows," McDavid said. "It's hard to say that but I do think we're much closer than we sit today. There's still a lot of work to be done. Individually, everyone needs to have a great summer."
It's clear McDavid does not want to see a repeat of last season. It's also clear that there will be a sense of conviction in the Oilers Captain's eyes when training camp begins in September, and when the puck drops overseas in Europe come October.
"There's not much reason to feel good coming into next year," said McDavid.
"Guys should be hungry to go."