CONNOR MCDAVID: FIRST BLUSH

The first time I heard the name Connor McDavid, it came in a sentence including the word “exceptional” and nothing has changed since that day.

MARCH 21, 2012

  • Dustin Pollack, National Post: Connor McDavid is now part of a very small, yet elite group.The Ontario Hockey Federation announced this morning that the
    15-year-old will be granted exceptional player status, making him
    eligible for the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection next month, a
    year earlier than other players born in 1997.
    He is only the third player in OHL history to be granted exceptional
    status behind Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad, who is a rookie with
    the Barrie Colts, and New York Islanders forward John Tavares, who was
    drafted by the Oshawa Generals in 2005. Source

When I read about an exceptional talent who is years from the draft, it’s kind of a distant bell, a curio, and it’s information you pack away for another day. McDavid was a 15-year-old kid, lots of development to go and other things to worry over.

During the period when his status was in limbo, McDavid was interviewed by several publications and gave the first indication about what kind of player he was, how he viewed the game.

  • Connor McDavid describing himself as a player, 2012: “I believe that I am a good playmaker, looking to pass before shooting. I
    am a good skater who is able to do things at high speed. I feel my
    biggest strength is my hockey IQ. For me the game slows down a bit and
    allows me to see different things on the ice. I need to work on
    becoming more of a shooter. Often times give up the shot for the pass
    and at the next level I need to change that.”

Interesting. This interview is from March of 2012 and shows a very self aware young man (most youngsters are very articulate even at 15, compared to 30 years ago).

  • Connor McDavid on the player he would like to become, 2012: “If there is any player in the NHL that I would like to become, it’s
    Pavel Datysuk. He has amazing offensive skills but is also someone that
    the coach can put on in the last 30 seconds in a one goal game because
    he is also very defensive minded. He is the complete 2-way player.”

Music! McDavid’s offensive skills are insane, but the finer points of the game are more difficult to master and of course making McDavid into a checker would be worthy of the firing squad for a junior coach. Still, his willingness at a young age to recognize the importance of a complete game is encouraging.

Note: My sincere thanks to Brock Otten of OHL Prospects for his generosity in sharing his material. The McDavid interview on his blog is here.

BORN TO PLAY HOCKEY

We’re in March of 2012 now, McDavid is 15 years and two months old during this period. Once the exceptional status is granted, the process that gets him drafted kicks in and that’s often a very sticky wicket. Many kids (and their handlers) try to tweak their situation by having specific teams back off from drafting them, or trading the pick to a bigger, more successful market. There’s no judgement to pass here, it’s part of the game and we all live with it. However, it is interesting to see how McDavid’s family dynamic impacts how he makes his decisions.

It’s that aspect of a young prospect’s life—the vital support system—that gets easily overlooked but remains a major part of the player’s progress.

  • Brian McDavid (Connor’s Dad): “We go to the rinks and we see the things he’s
    able to do on the ice, but he’s our son. We don’t see him
    the way other people see him. We see him as a 15-year-old kid you’ve
    got to remind to clean up his room.”
    Source (Michael Woods, Toronto Star)
  • Kelly McDavid (Connor’s Mom): “He’s very mature. To
    him, it’s just an attitude that this is ‘one more thing I’ve got to do
    to reach my goal. It’s no big deal. I’ll go, live there, it’s going to
    go fast and we’ll all be fine.’ He was kind of reassuring my husband and
    I all the time. He was more worried about us when he went. But it was
    definitely difficult to let him go, but because he is so grounded, it
    made it a lot easier.”
    Source (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star)

If we’re looking for a reason behind McDavid’s greatness, beyond the physical skills and the big brain, it’s very important to remember the environment he grew up in. The back story on Connor McDavid reads in a way that reminds us of past greats in the game: Family, support, sacrifice and being there.

Up next: Connor McDavid is a special talent. Will he use his status to tailor his OHL destination?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Wow. Who knew Bob Nicholsons forensic audit would pack such a powerful punch?

    It won’t be very popular outside of Edmonton, but I see the Oilers narrowly missing the playoffs next season, and winning that second overall selection next summer. Take that haters!

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Got a couple questions LT.

    Do you think, with the rumours of Phoenix on the move sooner than later, Mike Smith might ask for a trade this summer? If he does, do you think PC would go after him? What would the cost be in your opinion?

    • Lowetide

      He could be in the mix, along with Niemi (UFA) and guys who may come available (Jimmy Howard is an intriguing name).

      For me, I wonder about his age (33) and salary ($5.667M times four more years). If he continues to erode (despite his performance in the short WHC’s he’s going the wrong way) that could be a disaster.

      I think the Oilers may attempt to acquire a younger goalie, under control. It may not be popular but it’s likely the better plan.

      As for payment? No idea. Smith’s big contract will reduce the payment that’s for sure.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Cool! Thank you.

        I didn’t know he was in his mid 30s, thought he was a little younger than 33. I’ve always liked him and the style he plays( better than the butterfly imo).

        According to NHLNumbers he is getting paid a mint over the next 4 yrs but his cap hit isn’t really to bad over that time, which made me think he’d be a good fit here and a pretty good mentor for Brosoitt(sp?) in a couple yrs.

        I hope PC doesn’t go to young/not very established, like Jones or Talbot, the team needs a guy in net like Rolison was when he got here. A calming presence if you will.

        I’d take Neimi over Jimmy Howard. Howard always seemed like a cat in a room full of tin foil lol, and on a team like Detroit, that’s not good!

        Thanks for your thoughts, Cheers!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    It’s still hard to believe our 1-2 punch for years to come will be RNH and McDavid.

    That is a nightmare for coaches and how they will deploy their defence against the Oilers.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      What will become a nightmare is when the Ferlands et. al. play the game against us and we have no nuclear deterrant. I hope this is what PC meant by getting heavier ie face puncher.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        I think the Oilers have that in Gazdic, he’s no MacIntyre or Laraque, but if McLellan sends him out right after a guy like Ferland takes out Hall etc, Gazdic can definitely put a hurt on too imo.

        Bottom line is the next coach can’t be afraid to send Gazdic out after one of the “chosen ones” get run over all the time.

        Eakins was scared to, as was the coaches before him, and it drove me nuts! Lol.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            Actually Winnipeg is in a situation a bit, 21mil in cap space and half the team hitting UFA and DB a ye away from UFA as well.

            Buf would be perfect here, but at 6 mil for 1 yr, would he resign after getting traded( if he wants to come here)

            Ebs(sadly) is the starting point in that discussion.

        • OilersSchmoilers

          This isn’t the 80’s. Coaches can’t just take the biggest guy on the bench and tell him to start cracking skulls.

          Let’s say the current Oilers roster stays mostly intact and one game, Getzlaf decides to run Mcdavid. Would there be a response from Edmonton? No because Gazdic can’t charge onto the ice and jump Getzlaf no matter how badly he wants to.

          The Oilers need a physical component in their top 6 and I bet my left nut that Chiarelli trades a softy like Eberle and signs a meathead like Stewart to play alongside Mcdavid.

      • STR8 SHOOTER

        I highly doubt Ferland can even catch McDavid let alone hit him. If Calgary wants to bring that line out against McDavids I welcome that. That’ll be in the offensive zone the entire shift.

          • ThinkingOutLoud

            I don’t think Nuge fits into this category whatsoever. McDavid even less. Ferland also isn’t some juggernaut that players are afraid of. Like I said if Calgary wants to bring on Ferland vs McDavid….. Id love to see it. Needless to say I’m not worried, and neither should any Oilers fans.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Seriously. The “nuclear deterrent” thing on a hockey team is antiquated. The Oilers have had some of teh premiere heavyweights in the league with MacIntyre and Gazdic and Laraque, and players still get injured, and a-holes still a-hole.

            Now a heavier team, I would never argue against. Lucic? At least he can take a pass and skate. Boyle? Backes? Hossa? Yes I like heavier players that play the game. Not face-punchers.

      • Mac07

        Ferland? hahahah!!! OH. You were serious.
        Well. This is awkward. Maybe think of someone who will be able to actually catch McDavid. You know. To avoid these awkward but funny responses.

  • Im not sold yet….WHY?

    Why am I worried that the Oilers leadership will screw this up. I know there is no way they don’t draft Connor…but somehow it just seems the Oilers will find a way to mess this kids career up.

    We saw in the playoffs that he isn’t enough on his own to win it all…he needs a supporting cast. He reminds me a lot of what the Oilers already have…a lot of guys that rack up the points…but not ever able to get over the top.

    The Oilers have the deepest group of young forwards in the league….but probably the shallowest group of D-Men and Goalies in the league. Too many high end forwards that will want top $$ in a couple years…$18Mil already send to Hall/Nuge/Ebs. Short term McDavid is cheap…long term if he pans out he is a $9mil+ player. So Oilers will have $27Mil tied up in 4 forwards? No other team in the league has that.

    • STR8 SHOOTER

      Chicago has 4 players locked in at 32.1 million next year. By the time Mcdavid’s ELC is up the cap will have increased and 27 million for those 4 players will be a steal.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Oilers leadership has changed – dramatically (assuming Todd M comes on board as HC). Inexperience exchanged with experience. The last 10 yrs is now firmly in our rear view. Peter C got raked when he traded Tyler S. and w/o knowing the details, I believe he will think long and hard before repeating that – which is a good thing. We have our key players locked up in long term contracts. Awesome!

      If, 4 or 5 years down the road we have so many talented, highly regarded, sought after, experience players and need the cap space then we are in an enviable position. That is the price you pay for building a powerful team. If we end up like Chicago or Detroit – I’m OK with that….

      Before we think that we have great forwards lets not forget our D and Goal. We were awful last year. This is not a time to nibble around the edges. We need to give up to get or we will have even more great forwards and no D and G and we will end up out of the playoffs again. Time to make a few “Bold” moves and trade some future for experience today. Package some draft picks and some “good” players like Lander, Purcell, Nikitin, Fraser for 3 players and I think we have a shot at the playoffs. No more 3 & 4 line offense, below top 4 (real top 4 not Oiler top 4) D and poor G. Trade bottom for bottom and go nowhere.

      • NJ

        First of all, I believe it’s well documented the the Seguin trade isn’t square on Chiarelli’s shoulders and in fact was a group decision that Chiarelli gets the joy of wearing. The Kessel trade is a much better indication of what PC is capable of and a much better comparable to what can possibly happen here.

        Everyone knows we need D and Goal. But find me a team that would take all 4 of the players you mentioned for a top 4 d man. The league is in a cap situation and the only cap friendly player you mention who is worth more than a handful of beans is Lander and it’s pointless to trade him as he fits in with our plans to replace an aging Gordon.

        I may be missing something in the tone of your last paragraph and the quotes, but you are right, you have to give to get. That means trading VALUE for VALUE. A hockey trade. That means an Eberle has to be moved, Marincin may have good value to a team, Yakumov, those guys all show some potential or are already established. Also, a lot of our needs can be addressed via free agency. So, you start there and address what needs you can (Maybe a goalie and a number 2-3 d man) and then you see what you have when October comes. Stay the course and be patient. We aren’t winning a cup next year…

        • 916oiler

          My reference to high profile trades was to suggest that he may give more thought prior to trading youth. In respect of D and G, any trades would be, as stated, draft picks and players, not just players. I included Lander as he is not as good as RNH, Connor M and Drai but is still a good player with some value in a trade. I agree that I would include Marincin in that list as well. We need to look at all avenues including free agency. I don’t think there is enough in top FA talent available to get what we need given that it becomes a bidding war and you typically overpay. Certainly an avenue but likely we will see at least 1 trade to get there

    • Big J

      One of the dumber comments to date this year. There has never been a player who can win all on his own, so why even mention it? You think his paltry 2.55 points per game wasn’t enough? Winning the playoff scoring title wasn’t enough? Chicago has about $32 000 000 tied up in Toews, Kane, Hossa, and Sharp. Why don’t you look things up before commenting?

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Your statement that the Oilers have a lot of guys that rack up the points is moronic.

      The Oilers offense last year ranked 26th for goals scored with 198 while we grossly out produced those offensive juggernauts like Buffalo (161), Arizona 170), New Jersey (181)and Carolina (188).

      The existing myth surrounding the Oilers offensive ability is truly sad. They have done absolutely nothing to have earned such accolades. On paper, with our plethora of first overall picks, we may look pretty good offensively but truth be told our offense has been “offensive” for years now.

      When the offense is combined with a dead last defense having 283 goals against, you realize the real tragedy Oiler fans have had to live through.

    • pkam

      No other team in the league has 27M tied up in 4 forwards? What are you talking about?

      The Hawks will have 31M+ tied up in Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa this year, not 3 years later when the cap will be higher.

      Carolina have 27M tied up in Eric and Jordan Staal, Semin and Skinner now.

      And 3 years ago, the Pens had 26.4M tied up in Crosby, Malkin (each 8.7M), James Neal (5M) and J. Staal (4M). If Staal accepted the 6M offer, the Pens will have 28.4M tied up in the 4 forwards in 2013-14.

  • Connor McDavid

    “One of my biggest pet peeves is cocky people, people who think they’re so much better than everyone else. I cannot stand that, I really can’t.”

    Hockey Confidential by Bob McKenzie

    I ask the fair people of Oilers Nation. Anyones name come to mind?

    ;))

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    If I’m looking for a starting goalie I’m looking at bernier he showed that he can still put up solid numbers even for a bad team which only means he can be even better on a good team sign him to a three year deal to solidify our goaltending next year. There goaltending fixed now we just got to get some defenseman

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    When I feel sad I like to youtube the draft lottery and replay the, “and we have a winner” part a few times. Then I google McDavid highlights. And boom! Happy!

  • sofarsogood

    Yes we definitely need a lucic, Bickel, Stewart, etc on CMDwing for a year or two. Sounds like Lucic wants to much though. We need an anti ferlandnator. Off the topic a bit but I heard from a source (toews nieghbor), don’t know if it is true or not but the players will know, that sharp has some problems. Maybe that’s why the off year. We don’t want to trade for him. I’ll leave it at that.

  • Cain

    OilersNation Staff or site monitors>>>>>>>>>>>>>>FYI………………………………………………..
    Just want to let you know I am getting multiple ads that are audio. They come on at random intervals,and are difficult/impossible to turn off.

    Not sure if my location has any bearing, but I am in Dallas,TX.

  • paul wodehouse

    …LT nice read with the quotes from mom and dad…shows the humanity and background of who this franchise is getting and I hope all the fans in Etown give the same western welcome and hospitality that was afforded Phyllis and Walter Gretzky back in the day…these warm regards in front of this set of proud parents visiting the city to see their son will help them greatly AND please keep ANY McDavid insights coming for us here … I was very fortunate to see him play here in Ontario against the London Knights and it’s true…he IS the next generation of superstar…but off topic just a bit>>>I have this leaf fan buddy who thinks McDavid can&should negotiate his ELC to 2 years with an option … I called BS and I’m not a CBA expert at all..

    Question: ELCs are 3 year mandatory no?…no 2yr w/options even though ELCs are often extended in that 3rd year ala 4 & 14…

  • Hmmm I am starting to think the Oilers might want to take a hard look at this “Connor McDavid” for first pick this year at the Entry Draft.

    *adjusts Harvard degrees on office wall*

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Why is Ferland all of a sudden some kind of boogeyman? He’s a big kid at 225 lbs, and a decent pest by the sounds of it, but I don’t see why he’s now projected as the bane of the Oilers. If he takes a run at McDavid, send Hendricks over to explain with his fist why that’s not okay.

    On that note, after watching him play for the USA, I think I would keep Hendricks for as long as I can. His value will never be higher than this offseason, but he is EXACTLY what we need in the bottom 6. Someone who can do a little bit of everything. $1.85 million per year for him isn’t even that unreasonable. I’d like it to be closer to $1 million than $2 million, but we need a player of his type right now, so I say it’s worth it.

    He’s not a heavyweight, but the guy is a true leader and he’s no slouch when it comes to throwing a punch.

    • OilersSchmoilers

      I agree with you on almost everything. Although it’s not just Ferland Oilers fans should be worried about. Mcdavid is going to have a gigantic target on his back and it’s not going to be enough to have a few fourth line scrapers on the team. Somebody needs to play on Mcdavids line and protect him Gretzky/Mcsorley style.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        I accidentally trashed this while scrolling on my phone. Irony is a cruel mistress…

        And it’s a deal, LT. Now I just have to finish the damn thing.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I think the Jets would be more open to trading Buff with Myers on the team now. He would be perfect for the Oilers right now, sort of a Burns-type. I don’t know if I’d want to trade Ebs for him, but you’ll have to give up quality to get quality.

    I can’t get over that hit he laid on Gazdic last year. Gazzy is 6’3″, 240 lbs and Buff literally flipped him like a child.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ruzJpPPJCbU

    Look at that! I said it before, a lesser man would’ve left on a stretcher. Ferland? Please.

    EDIT: I can’t really see which D man it was who threw that pass, but I hope Gordon or Hendricks or SOMEBODY laid into him on the bench afterwards. Textbook suicide pass, with Dustin “270 tons of fun” Byfuglien on the point, no less. I played wing, and that was always my biggest pet peeve.

  • 916oiler

    I think the most interesting thing about him is how similar his family situations is to Gretzky’s. You never heard that about crosby. Not saying it means much, but the kid might be extremely loyal if we treat him well.

    • Lowetide

      He seems exactly like the kind of kid you’d like to trust your franchise to, and thank goodness winning the lottery coincided with McDavid’s draft year.

      We should also be very aware that Daryl Katz maturation from rookie owner to actual owner happened at the same time.

      McDavid’s selection at the draft added to the Katz epiphany could produce an Omega molecule.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Omega molecule, love it.

        In ten years, we’ll refer to this off-season as “The Singularity.” Or maybe “The Anomaly” fits better.

        Either way, I might steal ‘Omega molecule’ for the crappy sci-fi yarn I’m writing. I’ll re-name one of the characters ‘Allan’ in your honour!

    • Old Soldier

      Crosby was always a good kid, never once complain about playing junior in a french town. Nathan Mackinnon flat out refused to play for any team but Halifax. Stated he would go play USHL before he would play for a french Canadian team. The irony is he now plays for the former Nordiques, and the owner of the Quebec Ramparts is his coach.

      Of course Halifax is his hometown team.but nonetheless entitlement issues from the get go.

  • Old Soldier

    I was as thrilled/excited/jubilant as everyone when the Oilers unexpectedly won the lottery, and like everyone else I immediately imagined seeing McDavid in Oilers silks and the wait for the draft and next season is killing me…..

    but having been an Oiler fan who still has his first Alberta Oilers ticket stub (yes I am that old), experience with this team and the NHL in general has me wishing that folks would temper the “Walking on Water” stuff a bit…..there is a teensy tiny minuscule part of the old Oiler fan cynicism in me that is still waiting for the shoe to fall….this is the Oil after all

  • paul wodehouse

    …directly from the CBA…

    How long will a player be in the Entry Level system?

    “Players who sign their first contract at age 18-21 are required to sign three-year Entry Level contracts; players age 22-23 will be required to sign two-year deals; and players age 24 will be required to sign a one-year Entry Level contract….”

    so as usual my leaf fan buddy is wrong and #97 will be signing a 3year ELC and there will be NO negotiating a lesser contract as he said…

    to my buddy leaf fan…face palm!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    My Leaf buddy just tried to trade me Phaneuf and Gardiner for Draisatl, then explained how the Leafs were going to deal Nylander and the 4th to Arizona for the 3rd so they can draft Strome, all while claiming you don’t need skilled size to compete. They’re panicking back east, it’s amazing to watch.

    • pkam

      Are you kidding? Not even Rask?

      Even ignoring our great prospect depth in defense and poor prospect depth in goaltender, I’ll still take Rask over Hamilton any day.