Connor McDavid had a monster night at the NHL Awards in Vegas on Wednesday while cementing himself as (maybe) the best player in the world. And he couldn't even grab a legal drink on the strip to celebrate, because he's only 20 years old.
McDavid took home the triple crown, adding the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award to the Art Ross he won after leading the NHL with 100 points this past season. Not only did he win the Hart as MVP, he took it in a landslide, receiving 147 first-place votes compared to Sidney Crosby's 14. His counterparts around the league clearly feel that McDavid was the NHL's best player last season, too, as the Ted Lindsay Award is voted on by the NHLPA and the players he competes against on a nightly basis.
It's no small feat for a player to cleanup the NHL's individual awards at such a young age, and he's put himself into a small, elite class with two other players whom he will be compared to—and rightly so—for the remainder of his career. Only ten times in NHL history has a player claimed all three of those major awards in the same year, and only three other times has the Hart Trophy been awarded to a player 20 years old or younger. Wayne Gretzky took it in 1980 and 1981, while Crosby did so in his sophomore season in 2007.
McDavid, who was still eligible to play junior hockey this season, adds his name to that prestigious list, and the most preposterous part of it all is that the second-year Oilers captain is only getting better from here.
Various studies have concluded that high-level athletes across most sports peak physically and mentally in their mid-to-late 20s. A hockey-specific study performed at the University of British Columbia by professor James Brander found that the age in which optimal performance occurs is between 27 and 28 years old for forwards, and 28 to 29 for defenceman. The study also revealed that most players perform close to peak levels (up to 90 percent) for several years before and after their optimal peak range—meaning an NHL forward's best days are generally between the ages of 24-32.
Watch more from VICE Sports on the Godfather of Team India Ball Hockey
Crosby is a prime example of this, despite battling concussions and losing almost two full seasons in his mid 20s. Between the ages of 26 and 29, he claimed an Olympic gold medal and tournament MVP, World Cup gold and MVP, two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe trophies, a Hart, an Art Ross, and the Rocket Richard trophy. He also put up 362 points in 312 regular-season contests over that span, an average of 1.16 points per game. Crosby just finished up one of the best 365-day stretches in NHL history, but it was McDavid who was the best individual talent in the world this past season.
The Great One, meanwhile, had some of his most productive years from ages 25 to 28, as well, winning two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe trophy, a Canada Cup (now known as the World Cup), Canada Cup MVP, along with two Art Ross and three Hart Trophies between 1986 and 1989. Gretzky also recorded an absurd 715 points in 301 regular-season games, an average of 2.38 points per game, nearly a half-point more than his career average of 1.92.
After only his second season, McDavid is in the most elite company you can imagine, and at just 20 years old, it's more than reasonable to believe that his peak is still three to four seasons away.
The best is yet to come for McDavid. It's unfair how good he is, but it's going to be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.