Man, Connor McDavid’s broken collarbone has certainly brought out the doom and gloom in the NHL. Some are saying that “everyone around hockey is worse off” because of it. Others called it “brutal for the Oilers and the sport itself.”
Does it really fall to the cynical jerk from New Jersey to provide some silver linings to these dark clouds, some light in this dark abyss, some condiments for this crap sandwich the hockey gods have handed the Edmonton Oilers?
Apparently so. Here are five reasons it’s all going to be OK, hockey.
1. It’s an injury that can heal rather quickly.
McDavid’s crash into the boards gave him a broken left clavicle. If that injury sounds familiar, it’s because Patrick Kane suffered one last season on Feb. 24 and was back for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 13. (A very, very salary cap convenient recovery time, for what it’s worth.) But for comparison’s sake, Jacob Josefson of the New Jersey Devils broke his on Oct. 21, 2011; he was back on the ice on Jan. 17, 2012.
So expect McDavid back in “months,” which could easily mean early January, depending on the severity of the injury and the recovery time.
Which is to say that with that kind of crash, thankfully it wasn’t worse.
One of the benefits – OK, perhaps the only one – of being terrible for years is the assemblage of young talent in the Oilers’ system. Draisaitl has looked terrific in his limited stint this season, and could slide into his natural spot at center in McDavid’s absence. Meanwhile, when Jordan Eberle returns from injury, he’ll pop right back where Draisaitl’s been playing on the wing with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. The offense won't be anywhere near as explosive, but that could work, right?
3. “It’s like making a trade.”
Right now the Oilers are 5-8-0 with a goal-differential of minus-5. That puts them two points out of third in the Pacific and five points out of the final wild card spot. While the playoffs might be a pipe dream this season, what if Edmonton stays in the hunt long enough for McDavid to get back into the lineup and pick up where he left off?
“He’ll be like a trade acquisition when he comes back, which will be nice,” said GM Peter Chiarelli.
And the best part about it is that the Oilers’ front office won’t actually have to be trusted to make a trade!
4. The Calder Race
From Sidney Crosby to Wayne Gretzky, NHL history is littered with outstanding players who never won the Calder Trophy. If McDavid’s out of the race – and he was leading it at the time of the injury – it swings the door open for several candidates to grab the spotlight. Ken Campbell has a good rundown here, but Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes, Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks, Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings and Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues spring to mind. And let’s not forget the surge of support if Jack Eichel starts moving up the points chart.
Then again, if McDavid comes back and is well ahead of a point-per-game pace … well, they wouldn’t give the Norris to an injured Mark Giordano but would they give the Calder to a limited McDavid?
5. Finally, This Won’t “Burn a Year”
The simple fact that Chiarelli expects McDavid back means that he’ll contribute this season, so it’s not like the Oilers are going to “burn a year” of his rookie deal. (McDavid’s already past the maximum number of games to trigger that entry level contract’s first year.) One expects him back before too long, and even two-thirds of a season will benefit him in the long run.
Besides, thanks to the CBA, we all know he’s under restricted free agent lock and key until his mid-20s anyway.
Until, of course, the Oilers inevitably have to trade him to Los Angeles or New York due to financial plight.
Crap, I’m sorry … I suppressed the cynicism as long as I could.
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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.