Wednesday, June 21, 2017

{allcanada} Connor McDavid of Oilers has big night at NHL Awards


LAS VEGAS -- Connor McDavid's breakout season was recognized with a hardware hat trick at the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday.

The Edmonton Oilers captain was the focal point for the League's celebration of the 2016-17 season when he was named winner of the Hart Trophy as the NHL player judged to be most valuable to his team, and the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding player in the regular season as voted by the members of the NHL Players' Association.

McDavid, 20, won the Art Ross Trophy as the League's scoring champion during the regular season with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) and was voted to the NHL First All-Star Team at center, which was announced Wednesday.

The No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft was also revealed as the featured player on the cover of EA Sports NHL 18.

"I'm sure tonight, when I put my head on the pillow and I go to sleep thinking about what happened tonight, then it'll start to really sink in," McDavid said. "Right now it's just a lot of hoopla, doing media and the pictures and all that.

"To see the trophies up close and personal, touch them, and get your picture with them, it makes it a little more real. Today is a very special day in my life for sure."

McDavid said there was special meaning for him in receiving each of the Hart and Lindsay awards.

The Hart was presented by the League's all-time scoring leader and Oilers legend Wayne Gretzky, who won the award nine times. 

Lindsay, 91, was a co-presenter, along with Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier, of the trophy that bears his name.

"I don't even know how to explain how much that meant for (Gretzky) to be presenting the (Hart) trophy, the guy who's won it more times than any other player, probably the best player to ever play," McDavid said of Gretzky, a partner and vice chairman of the Oilers. "It means so much.

"The Ted Lindsay, the guys you go head-to-head against every night, guys you battle with, for them to respect you that much to vote you to receive that award, it means so much.

"(Lindsay) was someone that changed the game, putting together the PA and somebody that has helped so many players along the line, even if he's never met them. To meet him and know what he's done for hockey and all those in it, that was an incredible moment."

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, the two-time Hart winner who finished second in the voting (1,604-1,104 points) this season, saluted McDavid for his accomplishments.

"It's an honor to be in that group (of nominees), to be in the mix for winning and when you're nominated with guys … someone like Connor's done what he's done and had the year he had, you tip your cap and you get ready for the next year," Crosby said. "He's worked hard to get to this point, to do the things he's done at an early age.

"I'm sure that's not going to be his only awards over the course of his career. I think he's going to win a lot more. He's very deserving and he's had an unbelievable year."

McDavid's impact on the NHL in his second season was dramatic. His ability -- including his speed -- is elite but his rookie year wasn't exactly an ideal launching point.

In 2015-16, McDavid missed 37 games mid-season with a broken clavicle, finishing with 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 45 games.

"Connor's situation was unique in his first year in that he got started and then stalled and then had to get up and running again," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "It's hard to do that as a 10-year veteran, to miss that much time and then come back in the regular season.

"At that point in our team's season we were certainly not where we wanted to be and the team was being dismantled a little bit and looking towards the future, so that wasn't easy for him at all.

"But he made huge strides this season. I don't know how we quantify it but it obviously exists that he did move the needle quite a distance."

McDavid's needle-moving, coming-out season included 30 multiple-point games, helping the Oilers (47-26-9, 103 points, second in Pacific Divison) to their first playoff spot in 11 years and a 33-point improvement in the standings.

He finished the regular-season with a 14-game points streak (seven goals, 18 assists).

"It's just a little taste," McDavid said of his big night. "This feels good and it's something that I want to try and do every year. But I've been saying I'd trade in all three of these awards just to win one award, and we all know that one we're talking about … it's all about team accolades. That's obviously the main focus heading into next year."

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