Connor McDavid can cement his legacy by winning a Stanley Cup with the Oilers

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The greatest hockey player in the world has yet to experience the greatest hockey moment.

There isn’t much Connor McDavid hasn’t accomplished over his first nine seasons in the NHL.

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It’s a resume that would be the envy of anyone who ever laced up a pair of skates — except for maybe a handful players already on the Mt. Rushmore of the game.

Only there is one glaring omission.

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Sure, he’s a five-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the league’s leading point scorer.

He is a three-time MVP of the league.

He has won the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals

Last year, he collected five trophies at once after leading the way in both goals and assists for a career-high 153 points, becoming just the fifth player to reach the 150-point milestone.

This season, he became just the fourth player in the NHL’s 107 years of existence to reach triple-digits in assists, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr, later to be joined by Nikita Kucherov.

But there is one line on that list, all the way up at the very top, in fact, that to this day remains blank.

And you can bet the farm McDavid would like nothing more than to fill it with the words: Stanley Cup champion.

A legitimate superstar in every sense of the word, there is no bigger story in Edmonton heading into these playoffs than Connor’s Quest for the Cup. How, for all the overinflated offensive numbers that get put up, year in and year out, his legacy could end up being full of hot air if he remains unable to cement it with Lord Stanley’s namesake by the time it’s all said and done.

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And this year could just be his best chance as any he’ll ever get, given the way the Oilers finally found some traction in becoming a more well-rounded team able to last a lengthy playoff run through reliable goaltending, complimentary defensive play both ways, and secondary scoring that doesn’t require McDavid or his righthand man, Leon Draisaitl, to be on the ice for the Oilers to have a hope.

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Of course, the biggest problem faced by any first-overall draft pick — and the Oilers have certainly had their share — is the team that picked them earned that right by basically being in no position to win a Stanley Cup anytime soon.

But that wasn’t necessarily the case for McDavid, who in just his second year in the league, guided the Oilers out of the Decade of Darkness that didn’t see them make the post-season since reaching the finals in 2006 and back into the playoff picture in 2017.

And after a couple more lean years that followed, the Oilers have become a staple in the post-season, reaching playoffs five years in a row now.

In 49 playoff games, McDavid has 29 goals and 46 assists for 75 points for a point-and-a-half-per-game clip, which is right on par with his equally impressive regular-season numbers.

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The question is, is this the year McDavid’s Cup rut comes to an end? Or will the wait continue?

Henri Richard won an unprecedented 11 Stanley Cups in his career, Jean Beliveau and Yvon Cournoyer won 10 apiece, Claude Provost won nine, the aforementioned Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard is one of four players with eight, along with Red Kelly, Jacques Lemaire and Serge Savard, while Jean-Guy Talbot has seven.

Of that list, all but Kelly played for Montreal Canadiens teams earlier in the previous century, when there were fewer teams in the league and the term ‘salary cap’ might as well have described a hat fashioned out of money.

Then the Oilers came along and had almost-immediate success in the NHL, with franchise legends Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe earning five before capping off their careers with a sixth with the New York Rangers.

Randy Gregg was also part of those five, Esa Tikkanen won four of his five here and the best to ever play the game, Wayne Gretzky, won all four of his Cups with the Oilers.

It’s hard to fathom any of those Oilers greats, as great as they were, in their prime and being able to keep up with McDavid in a race, let alone handling the puck through traffic at the same time.

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But the one thing they all have in common is none of them ever won a championship alone.

Just like McDavid won’t win one by himself.

MVPs don’t win the Cup. Scoring leaders don’t win the Cup. It takes a full team. And not always the best team, either, but the one that finds a way to play the best when it counts most.

And if McDavid is to ever join that echelon in hoisting the Stanley Cup, he’s going to have to be at his considerable best, no doubt. But it’s also going to take the same from every single member of his supporting cast.

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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