McDavid cementing legacy as he plays 500th NHL game with Oilers

WASHINGTON — Connor McDavid‘s first 499 NHL regular-season games have flown by nearly as quickly as the speedy Edmonton Oilers center races past defenders.

McDavid will play his 500th game when the Oilers visit the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Monday (8 pm ET; SN, TVAS, NBCSWA, ESPN+, SN NOW).

“It goes quick,” McDavid said Monday. “You get the chance to live out my dream and play in the NHL. To have done it for 500 games now, it means a lot to me. I know there’s not a lot of guys that get to that number, so it’s special to me.”

Much was expected of McDavid when Edmonton selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and he’s somehow managed to exceed those expectations and handle the pressures that came with them.

The moment he steps on the ice Monday, he will become the leader among active players through their first 500 games in points with 722 and assists with 471, surpassing Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins (706 points, 453 assists).

In his eighth NHL season, McDavid is likely to have the sixth most points in League history through 500 games behind Wayne Gretzky (1,186), Mario Lemieux (971), Peter Stastny (759), Mike Bossy (757) and Jari Kurri (730 ). The 25-year-old needs one assist to tie Bobby Orr (472) for fourth in League history in assists through 500 games, behind Gretzky (738), Lemieux (578) and Stastny (493).

McDavid has done it with remarkable consistency. He won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the NHL in regular-season points for the fourth time last season (also 2016-17, 2017-18, 2020-21), when he had an NHL career-high 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) in 80 in games.

McDavid won the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL twice (2016-17, 2020-21) and is a three-time winner of the Ted Lindsay Award, given annually to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by members of the NHL Players’ Association (2016-17, 2017-18, 2020-21).

“What he’s done and been able to accomplish in such a short time is amazing,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He’s a generational player. He’s someone that I don’t think gets enough credit on the leadership side of things. For Connor it’s not just about setting an example, it’s also holding the team to a certain standard and holding people accountable to that standard That’s a lot of stuff that people don’t get to see from behind the scenes, but I do.

“I’ve seen a young man mature over those 500 games. I’ve seen a player evolve and mature and he’s a treat to be around and a treat to watch operate on a day in and day out basis.”

Video: EDM@CHI: McDavid nets his 2nd hat trick this season

McDavid takes pride in his evolution as a player since making his NHL debut as an 18-year-old in 2015 and as a leader since he was named Oilers captain the following season.

“I’d like to think I’m a more responsible player, probably not as reckless as I was at 18 years old,” McDavid said. “There’s definitely lots of different things that I notice. I play the game a little bit different, but you have to adapt in the NHL otherwise you don’t go very far.”

McDavid has watched Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals and Crosby continue to be top players in the NHL in their 18th seasons, providing an example for him as his career progresses.

“You look at a guy like Sid, who I think has changed his game a little bit here and there a few times over, it’s so incredible to see,” McDavid said. “And obviously Ovi, you know what you’re going to get every single night. I’m so impressed with what those two have done for how long they’ve done it and will continue to do it. It’s amazing to watch.”

McDavid is off to another strong start this season, leading the NHL with 12 goals and 25 points in 12 games. He’ll be focused Monday on helping the Oilers (7-5-0) rebound from a 6-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

But forward Zach Hymanwho has played 433 regular-season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Oilers, believes 500 is a worthy moment of recognition.

“I think it’s a pretty big milestone, 500, and he’s done it really quickly, and in that time paced the League in pretty much every stat,” Hyman said. “So his work on the ice speaks for itself. Playing against him, I got first-hand experience at that… and being his teammate you kind of see how much work goes into being the player that he is and the person that he is.” He’s got the talent, but the work ethic is matched as well.”

McDavid’s teammates appreciate having a front-row seat to watch one of the most-gifted offensive players in the NHL daily. With 220 multi-point games, McDavid will have the most among active players to reach 500 games, again surpassing Crosby (214), and will rank fifth in NHL history behind Gretzky (330), Lemieux (280), Stastny (225) and Bossy (223).

McDavid already has six multipoint games this season, including four four-point games and two hat tricks.

“I think even in practice you see him turn it on and it’s pretty special to watch, pretty special to be a part of for the last seven, eight years now I guess,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “So it’s pretty fun to watch him on a night-to-night basis.”

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