As Connor McDavid returns to the Edmonton Oilers’ lineup on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, are the playoffs out of reach?
The Oilers are 19-26-5 for 43 points. They puts them 13 points out of the last wild card spot, but just 10 points out of third place in the Pacific Division. Keep in mind that Edmonton, and Cam Talbot in particular, were still in the feeling out process when McDavid was hurt on Nov. 3. They were 5-8-0 then.
So the answer here is “maybe,” even as McDavid himself said "you look at our division, the Pacific, you're never really out of it.”
Now, can Connor McDavid still win the Calder?
McDavid has 12 points in 13 games, with five goals. Artemi Panarin leads with 46 points in 53 games. Also, he plays with Patrick Kane. His lead is safe, we think.
Pararin also leads the rookie goals race with 17, but has Jack Eichel (16), Dylan Larkin (15) and three rookies tied with 13 goals behind him.
Here’s the thing: McDavid has a better shot at the goals lead than the points lead. So let’s say McDavid stays on the same goal pace as he had before the injury. That’s roughly 12 more goals. That’s not going to get it done. But then again, McDavid could be a much more effective player now that he has those opening-season jitters out of the way.
If McDavid roars back to win the goals race, he wins the Calder. As it stands, there’s even a chance that a bonkers points-per-game average down the stretch – combined with a significant uptick in the standings by the Oilers – could put him in the conversation.
Like GM Peter Chiarelli said when McDavid was injured: Getting him back in the lineup is like making a blockbuster trade. We’re just happy to have the kid back on the ice, no matter if he ends up with postseason hardware (or a postseason, for that matter).