TORONTO — Connor McDavid is already helping the Edmonton Oilers off the ice.
Even before the start of the NHL regular season, the addition of the top draft pick has seen Oilers’ ticket sales climb 131 per cent compared to last year on the secondary market, according to StubHub.com.
McDavid’s arrival has catapulted Edmonton from 16th to sixth-best selling team on the ticket resale website.
“It’s not just Connor McDavid, it’s the idea that he’s the first since Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky to really bring a lot of buzz to the town,” said Jeff Poirier, StubHub Canada country manager. “I think there’s not just renewed hope around that, but there’s also this sort of nostalgic thing going on around Rexall Place and the fact that that’s going to be replaced by Rogers Place.”
Poirier suggested that there could be extra demand for Oilers tickets at the end of the season with the expectation that there would be a special ceremony at Rexall Place, where the classic Edmonton teams of the 1980s and early 1990s won their five Stanley Cups.
McDavid’s impact extends beyond northern Alberta, with the Oilers becoming the seventh-best selling road team in the NHL, joining the ranks of bigger market teams like the Original Six and Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Coming into the season people knew he was going to be there,” said Poirier.
“In terms of the NHL, I’m not sure that we’ve seen, at least in recent history, a jump like this due to one player.”
To put McDavid’s impact in context, LeBron James’s return to Cleveland last season saw Cavaliers ticket sales rocket up more than 1,000 per cent. Tampa Bay Buccaneers sales rose 15 per cent after drafting quarterback Jameis Winston first overall heading into this NFL season.
The Toronto Blue Jays saw a 73-per-cent spike in secondary-market ticket sales after the acquisition of ace David Price and all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at baseball’s trade deadline.
An increased demand has driven up the cost of Oilers tickets slightly, with the average ticket price on the secondary market rising to US$156 from $152 a year ago, according to SeatGeek.com, a website that aggregates prices on ticket resales.
Calgary Flames tickets have also escalated with an average cost of $120 compared to $117 last season, as have Ottawa Senators seats which are now $92 versus $89.
The rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs have seen ticket prices drop nearly 20 per cent from $252 to $194. The Montreal Canadiens’ average resale price is $161, down from $164 a year ago. Vancouver Canucks tickets are at $113, down slightly from $115 last season.
Due to stricter resale laws in Manitoba figures for the Winnipeg Jets are unavailable.