The 25-year-old center is, however, rocketing up franchise leaderboards for the Edmonton Oilers after only seven seasons. If McDavid continues at a similar pace he’s set in leading the league in, among other areas, scoring four times over the last six years, when will he surpass Gretzky for notable career franchise records?
Here are some records within reach if McDavid remains with the Oilers for several more seasons:
In each of his nine NHL seasons with the Oilers, Gretzky recorded at least 137 points, including at least 200 four times from 1981-82 through 1985-86.
McDavid has never recorded at least 137, and he may never, nor will he ever come close to a 200-point season. But if he continues averaging 1.43 points per game, he would surpass Gretzky in approximately 680 games, about eight and a half more years (2030-31 season).
McDavid scored his 200th career goal in his 411th NHL game en route to a career-high 44 goals last season. Gretzky didn’t score fewer than 50 goals in each of his first eight seasons with the Oilers.
Nonetheless, if McDavid doesn’t leave the organization after – or anytime shortly after – his ninth season as Gretzky did with his 1988 trade to the Los Angeles Kings, he can reach Gretzky’s 583 goals in about eight seasons if he averages 44-45 goals.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 22, 2021
If McDavid repeatedly duplicates his pace of 47 goals per season from the shortened 2020-21 season, he can reach Gretzky in just over seven full seasons.
Only 55% of Gretzky’s NHL-record 1,963 career assists came with the Oilers. And, at his 2021-22 rate of one assist per game, it would still take McDavid nearly eight more seasons to match The Great One’s franchise total.
Even if McDavid reverts to his 2020-21 rate of 1.29 assists per game – 72 assists in 56 regular-season games – he still wouldn’t catch Gretzky until early in the 2028-29 season.
Gretzky led the league in goals created seven times in his career, all coming with the Oilers in consecutive seasons from 1980-81 through 1986-87. With a league-leading 44.8 goals created last year, McDavid has now led the league three times and already ranks fifth in franchise history with 253.4 for his career.
Trailing Gretzky by 360.2 goals created, McDavid can sit atop the board within eight years if he averages 45 per season. That translates to about 0.56 per game; in the last four years he’s averaged 0.55, 0.55, 0.66, and 0.56, respectively.