Connor McDavid’s evolution into a premier sniper this season has been remarkable to watch. Like many of the other greats throughout NHL history, it seems McDavid simply decided over the summer that he would become a goal-scoring machine, and has subsequently spent the first half of the season doing exactly that.
The Edmonton Oilers star is pacing the league with 35 goals through Wednesday night’s games, and almost all of them would be career highlights for just about every other player. His dazzling speed and lighting-quick hands can often make the most difficult of moves look easy.
Here’s a look back at the absolute best goals (for now) McDavid has scored throughout what has been a phenomenal campaign.
5. McDavid goes the distance in Music City (Dec. 13 @ NSH)
The biggest part of McDavid’s game that makes him better than everybody else from a raw skill perspective has to be his legs. McDavid skates like a genetically engineered hockey player that maximizes efficiency in every stride to blow past defenders and leave goalies cowering in fear.
Combined with a shot that has been elevated from great to downright elite, you get the crux of what makes this goal against the Nashville Predators so special. McDavid picks the puck up at centre ice, reaches breakneck speed in the blink of an eye, then goes to work.
In the process, we see McDavid embarrass all four Predators penalty killers, with his primary victim Dante Fabro left haplessly swinging his stick at the charging pivot before he wrists a laser beam past Kevin Lankinen.
4. Connor goes Category 5 (Nov. 10 @ CAR)
McDavid starts this play on the perimeter in a seemingly not-so-dangerous position, but there's no such thing as a bad spot for the league’s preeminent superstar.
The Oilers captain makes a quick cut to the inside on his world-class edges, then uses his unbelievable mitts to go to work on a Carolina team that can only pray it won’t end up on a list like this one.
Unfortunately for defenceman Calvin De Haan, goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov, and the four other Hurricanes on the ice, McDavid goes Super Saiyan, slicing through defenders to the slot, then roofing a delectable backhander by the rookie goalie.
Fun fact: that was Kochetkov’s first game of the season and just the fourth game of his career. While the Russian netminder now finds himself squarely in the race for the Calder Memorial Trophy, it’s hard to diagnose that beauty as anything but a "Welcome to the NHL" moment for the youngster.
3. McMagic at the Mad House (Oct. 27 @ CHI)
It’s hard to believe given his prolific scoring rate, but McDavid somehow only has two hat tricks so far this season. His first of the year came on opening night against the Vancouver Canucks as the Oilers gave their Pacific rivals an apt preview of where their season was headed.
McDavid’s only other hat trick this year came against the Chicago Blackhawks, themselves looking for their own franchise-level Connor to steer the ship back on course. Chicago's futility shouldn’t take anything away from McDavid, who puts on his Superman cape and does it all himself on a gorgeous go-ahead goal for the Oilers.
The 25-year-old collects the puck off a pass at the top of the near-side circle, sends Jake McCabe to the phantom zone with a downright disrespectful one-on-one move, then rips a blistering shot five-hole past Alex Stalock to push Edmonton out in front.
This wouldn’t be the only time McDavid would torch the Blackhawks on the road, as just over a month later, he went up against tank commander Jack Johnson with a head full of steam, and finished exactly how you might expect.
2. Goodnight, Golden Knights (Nov. 20 vs. VGK)
You can’t put together a McDavid best-of list without showing off some overtime heroics. With all the extra space during 3-on-3 OT, McDavid goes from cheat code to downright unstoppable, and that’s no better exemplified than on this doozy against the Vegas Golden Knights.
With time and space in the neutral zone, McDavid picks up the puck and goes to town on a hapless Golden Knights trio.
The slick "I can’t hear you" celebration makes this one all the sweeter, with the hometown Oilers crowd going nuts for their captain’s dramatic goal.
1. McDavid puts Zegras in the spin cycle (Jan. 11 @ ANA)
It’s not often Trevor Zegras is on the wrong side of a highlight-reel goal, but when you’re going head-to-head with McDavid, you might just get torched.
As the great Danny Gallivan would say, McDavid hits Zegras with a Savard-ian Spin-o-rama that would make Serge Savard himself proud, twisting the NHL 23 cover boy into knots with the cheekiest of moves.
After shaking the dodgeball star, McDavid goes to his always-lethal backhand and makes quick work of John Gibson, who we can only assume is still too busy admiring the absolute dandy of a move that so rightfully earns the Oilers star his "McJesus" moniker.
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