Opinion: Connor McDavid usurps Crosby as NHL’s best

Drew Taylor

It’s only the first week of the new NHL season, and I am going to already make the Pittsburgh Penguins fans that read The Kent Stater angry with what I am about to say.

Sidney Crosby is no longer the best hockey player on the planet.

Yes, I know, I can feel the rage of Penguins fans reading this already, but this isn’t to say Crosby still isn’t a fantastic player. He just came off a season leading the league in goals, and was runner-up in voting for the league’s most valuable player award. Crosby could retire tomorrow and be a first ballot hall of fame inductee and be remembered as one of the 10 greatest hockey players of all time.

However, at this moment, the title as the best player in the league has been taken over by Edmonton Oilers center, Connor McDavid. This isn’t surprising, as McDavid was hyped up to be the next great player in the sport ever since he was about 14 or 15 years old. Even Wayne Gretzky said he was the best prospect he’s seen in 30 years.

While Crosby is still ahead of McDavid defensively, the Oilers captain is offensively one of the most gifted players the sport has seen in years. His leading the league with 100 points last season and bringing the Oilers within one game of the Western Conference Final earned him the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP and the Ted Lindsay Award, the league’s most outstanding player as voted by his fellow players.

Did I mention that McDavid is only 20 years old?

Not only does he do it all, but he does it all with less. While I like the players that surround McDavid, they are objectively less talented than the players that surround Crosby. Guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl are good, but they aren’t Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist.

It’s impressive that McDavid could turn around a terrible Oilers franchise so quickly. They went from not making the playoffs for 11 straight years to a Stanley Cup contender instantly.

Crosby is still the second-best player in the world, although players like Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos are right behind. Crosby and the Penguins are still the favorites to win the Stanley Cup again this year, aiming to be the first team since the New York Islanders in the 1980s to win the championship three years in a row.

However, individually, McDavid has shown signs of being not just the next face of the NHL, but he has shown signs of being potentially one of the all-time greatest players.

Well, if he can stay healthy, of course.

While the age gap might mean we won’t see this individual rivalry take place for very long, the next few years should be fun for hockey fans everywhere.

Drew Taylor is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].