That unlikely scenario became reality on Sunday afternoon, when the Edmonton Oilers agreed to acquire Manning (and Robin Norell) from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Drake Caggiula and defenseman Jason Garrison.
While this isn't exactly a blockbuster deal for either team, it's certainly noteworthy from the Oilers' perspective considering Manning has a history with McDavid -- Edmonton's captain and franchise superstar. It was Manning who caused McDavid to miss three months with a broken clavicle during his rookie season in 2015-2016.
The defenseman, then with the Flyers, got tangled up with the 18-year-old McDavid and sent him crashing hard into the boards. In all likelihood, McDavid would have cruised to a Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year had he not been injured in that incident.
When McDavid and Manning met again the following season, they traded some heated words on the ice and McDavid claimed that Manning admitted to injuring him on purpose the year before.
"I did all I could defending him last year in the media," McDavid said back in December 2016. "Everyone wanted to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose, and he wanted to say some comments today about what went on last year. I thought it was one of the [most] classless things I've ever seen on the ice. He said some things, and our guys responded accordingly. I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it on purpose' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that."
Manning responded by denying any such admission, saying he never intentionally meant to hurt the Oilers' youngster. (Though he didn't explicitly say the trip was accidental, either.)
"I would never intentionally hurt someone," Manning said. "Anybody who knows me, I play a hard game. That's the reason I'm here, that's the way I'm in the NHL. I'm not here to score goals like some of those guys. I think I play an honest game, and anyone who knows me knows I play hard and stuff happens out there."
Time has the ability to heal most wounds, so maybe McDavid and Manning will be able to work things out and put their history behind them. But this is certainly an interesting move from the Oilers' standpoint, especially considering McDavid already seemed a bit frustrated in Edmonton. With that in mind, the Oilers reportedly got McDavid's blessing before making the deal.
For those questioning the Brandon Manning acquisition, we can report that GM Peter Chiarelli received Connor McDavid's blessing on adding the D-man involved in the collision that broke McDavid's collarbone back in 2016.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) December 30, 2018
Still, it'd be one thing if Manning was an undeniable impact player on the blue line, but he's not. He's a pretty replaceable, lower-tier defenseman that isn't going to make the Oilers much better, if at all. And on top of that, he's got a $2.25 million cap hit through next season.
So, yeah, this is yet another questionable move from Edmonton.