Connor McDavid lauded as 'greatest player ever' after Oilers' Stanley Cup loss

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (R) totaled the fourth-most playoff points in NHL history during the 2024 postseason. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI.
Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (R) totaled the fourth-most playoff points in NHL history during the 2024 postseason. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI. | License Photo

June 25 (UPI) -- Leon Draisaitl praised teammate Connor McDavid, calling him the "greatest player to ever play" in the NHL after the Edmonton Oilers' narrow loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The veteran forward made the comments following the 2-1 setback Monday in Sunrise, Fla. McDavid, who doubled over near the Oilers bench in an emotional scene at the final horn, was rewarded with the Conn Smythe Trophy for his playoff efforts.


"He's the greatest player to ever play, in my book," Draisaitl told reporters "So many things that a lot of people don't see that he does...his work ethic. He singlehandedly turned our franchise around, pretty much.

"I just love sharing the ice with him. He's just a really, really special person."


McDavid became just the second non-goalie from a losing team in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the MVP of hockey's postseason. His 42 points -- from eight goals and record 34 assists -- were the fourth-most ever in an NHL postseason. Only Wayne Gretzky (1985 and 1988) and Mario Lemieux (1991) totaled more points during playoff runs.

"I don't think he cares," Draisaitl said of the award. "I mean, it speaks to how amazing of a hockey player he is. There's no player in the world that wants to win a Stanley Cup more than him. He does everything right, every single day, just to win it one day.

"It's really hard, especially with him being sad and being disappointed at the end."

McDavid, a three-time Hart Trophy (regular-season MVP) and four-time Ted Lindsay Award (players' union league MVP) winner, did not score a point in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, a 2-0 Oilers loss. He logged an assist in Game 2 and two assists in Game 3, as the Oilers fell behind 3-0 in the series.

He went on to become the first player in NHL history to log consecutive four-point games in a Stanley Cup Final in Game 4 and Game 5, helping the Oilers climb back into the series. The Panthers held McDavid without a goal or assist for the final two games of the series.


McDavid only had one stretch during the regular season when he failed to record a point for consecutive games. He totaled just two such stretches when including the last two regular seasons and three postseasons.

McDavid praised his team's resilience and said they "came that close" to capturing the title. He also said he was proud of the way his teammates fought.

"We showed all year long that we could fight back, even in the most dire situations," McDavid said. "It was obviously tough to be down three and tough to string four in a row against a team like that, but we were right there."

"We really believed we were going to get one," he added.

"He's our leader," Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said of McDavid. "He's our best player. Obviously everybody wanted to win it for the team and we'd like to obviously do it [for] him, the captain of our team.

"I can't say enough things about what he provides: the leadership and what he does on the ice."

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