CONNOR MCDAVID: CALM, COOL AND COLLECTED

Connor McDavid as a prospect has been on the radar for a long time. Everyone knew he was special, but there’s a rather large range of possible outcomes when we talk about 15-year old whiz kids. Is he good? Very good? Exceptional? Generational? The answer should always be ‘too soon to know’ but in McDavid’s case the gathering excitement was very real, very early.

OHL DRAFT

One of the greatest chapters of the McDavid story is his handling of the OHL Draft. It is common in the modern era of junior hockey for the top players to ‘send the message’ to teams in regard to where they’ll play (and where they won’t go). The London Knights (as an example) are a popular destination for junior players who have the power to impact their destination.

Connor McDavid was heading to Erie—not a high profile destination—the moment he was granted the right to enter the draft. Fans? They were thrilled. Victor Fernandes of GoErie.com described the mood of the fans on the night before the OHL draft:

  • Fernandes: The draft party couldn’t arrive soon enough for fans.
    They endured the worst season in franchise history with a league-worst
    10-52-3-3 record, which assured the Otters the No. 1 pick in the draft.
    Fans were ready to meet the player they believe will help turn around
    the team.
      Source

The player? Well, this is going to become a theme during this series — the player was calm, cool and collected:

  • McDavid: “It’s exciting. I guess I should be nervous but I’m not that nervous. I’m just really looking forward to it.” Source

Connor McDavid made a lot of dreams come true during this period, including Sherry Bassin, managing partner of the Erie Otters. McDavid’s presence on his team would represent a watershed, in attendance, winning and playoff revenue.

  • Bassin: “I can’t say enough about the upbringing
    and the direction that he’s had from his parents. I know
    those other guys [Ekblad and Tavares] were exceptional, but this guy
    will help set the standard. If there is a hockey god, he’s been good to us by having this young man play for us.”
    Source

In preparing for this series, the theme of family runs through the Connor McDavid story and provides us with a window into his upbringing, his value system and ultimately his reasons for not forcing Erie to trade him. It appears that Connor McDavid, with help from his parents, is that rare individual who figures out at an early age that it’s not where you are in life, but rather who you are and what you bring.

If Erie wasn’t a place for winning hockey, if Erie wasn’t associated with success, well, they’d just have to change that by turning around the Otters fortunes on the ice. With a 10-52-3-3 record as a backdrop there was plenty of room for improvement. The Erie Otters were a very bad hockey team.

Brock Otten, OHL Prospects

(Pre-Season Predictions)

(September 20, 2012)

  • Choice for: Emms Family Award (Rookie of the Year) – Connor McDavid

Come on, would you expect anyone else? I’ve seen McDavid play a few
times now and he’s the real deal folks. And while Erie may have stunk
the joint up last year, they’ve got a fair amount of talent at forward.
McDavid will have people to play with. An 80+ point season isn’t outside
the realm of possibility. Joshua Ho-Sang seems to be the other big
contender among the 2012 Draft class. He’ll get a lot of opportunity to
put up points in Windsor. A dark horse from the recent draft crop might
be Robby Fabbri in Guelph who appears to be getting every opportunity to
play in tough offensive situations. As far as Imports go, Sergei
Tolchinsky could have a big offensive year in the Soo.

Source

McDavid would score 66 points in 63 games for a still-struggling Otters team, who would almost double their wins total (10 to 19) in his first season in Pennsylvania. McDavid, still 15, received a major endorsement contract from Reebok before the end of 2012 and the dream of playing in the OHL had come true.

Team success and more fame awaited McDavid in 2013, but he handled the considerable challenges of being a famous 15-year old incredibly well.

Previously in this series:

Up next: World Juniors and sky’s the limit

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  • I tried it at home

    Im starting to getva little Mcdavid’ed out. Im happy he’s our consensus pick, etc etc… but just draft him and lets let settle in. I dont need to know his dog’s middle name or the teddybear he had way back when. Welcome to Edmonton, Connor, good luck

    • CapeBretonOilers

      Are you joking!! Nugent Hopkins was the best player on the team. And hour still will be until Connor huts his stride and matures. He’s going to come back close to 200 lbs and he is going great dominate for over a point a game. Too many people underestimate him. But after next year that will not be the case. And if I see sole put McDavid ahead of nug on a depth chart one more time on going to snap!

      • paul wodehouse

        …you get so excited you have trouble putting your sentences together! why is that when I didn’t say anything about your crush on The Nuge …you’ll certainly know when I’m joking so please stay calm…I’m a Nugent-Hopkins fan as well but he and McDavid may only ever play together on the power play…Hall & McDavid are only a guess…an eventuality IMO…

        93 will be #1 on the centre depth chart even though he was never ever referred to as a “generational player” when picked 1st overall…I will make no predictions on Connor McDavid but if he gets hit by a truck going to his first game as an Oiler you and me can both snap simultaneously …you ok now ?

  • A-Mc

    I’m excited for the draft because it’ll be good to officially get McDavid in an Oilers jersey, but i’m also excited at the prospect of what might happen with that 2nd 1st round pick. Draft day is going to be a very exciting day.

    15 days. 15. Days.

  • CapeBretonOilers

    I for sure am not McDavid’d out at all. We have been waiting a long time to be excited about watching a winning hockey game. Gold seats, Cape Breton Jersey. All I need to fulfill my dream is to catch a puck and not have an old drunk guy yell at me “GIVE IT TO THE KIDS A-HOLE” haha true story

      • CapeBretonOilers

        lol, I looked at the puck, my life flashed through my eyes, I looked at the kids, they expected the puck, I threw them the puck and the lil fkrs didn’t even say thanks. Meanwhile, the drunken AHole sat back and claimed his own heroism. Worst day of my life 🙂

  • CapeBretonOilers

    Trust me I was probably the most excited when we won the draft. He makes my mornings that much better. I can’t wait to watch heavy mcd, but let’s not forget nug is already an all star. We are going to have two of the best centers in hockey. Just make sure nug gets his due as well. He will have a break out year as far as points are concerned. And part of that will undoubtedly be due to the McDavid affect. I’m laughing myself to sleep every night 🙂

  • Forever Copper and Blue

    That assist in between the legs against London – Wow.. His hockey Iq and awareness is incredible. Cant wait to see these type of plays and assists to hall and or Yakupov!

    • Joy S. Lee

      That’s exactly what’s so exciting for me in all of this. McDavid is a supreme talent, and nothing against those junior kids he’s been playing alongside, but when he starts centering talented players like Hall and Draisaitl*, magic is even MORE likely to ensue. His elite IQ and awareness that you speak of (I’ll toss in speed, lateral movement, desire, instincts, shooting, passing, deking, skating, leadership, and all-round nice guy)is going to give the highly skilled players that are about to surround him the opportunity to show their wares. Trust me, they’re more excited than we are!

      * – I have a follow up comment/prediction to this that falls into all the conjecture about line combinations.

  • Lofty

    We were all very excited with Eberle, Hall, Nuge, Yak, Nurse and Draisaitl, after all they were all first round picks. The difference this year is the change in the hierarchy of the Oilers organization – add that to the McDavid mix and THAT’s why we are all over the moon. So for everyone who is being negative, button your lips, we have EARNED the right to be optimistic, and this is the year that change really has come. I’d left Pajaarvi out from 2009 as he’s no longer an Oiler.

  • JackB

    This is going to be an exciting draft! AND I’M SICK OF THE GARBAGE THAT CAME OUT OF THE EAST, THAT WE DIDN’T DESERVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY! The hockey gods got it EXACTLY RIGHT! Edmonton was trying to the very end to win. Arizona traded their two best scoring forwards; Buffalo traded there great goalie – THEY WERE BOTH TRYING TO LOSE . . . (the hockey gods got it right!) I loved the April 7th game when we got our revenge against LAK (for the previous 8-2 loss) AND KNOCKED THEM OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS! (the hockey gods got it EXACTLY RIGHT!)

    Question: If we don’t trade our 16 pick (and I don’t think we should . . . unless someone “knocks our socks off” with an offer WE CAN’T REFUSE) and Svechnikov, Merkley and Jeremy Roy are still on the board, who should we take?!

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I fully understand that McDavid is the cream of the crop….at the junior level. As we can see from Yakupov, the transition from OHL to NHL scoring is quite a bit different.

    I’m excited to see what McD will be able to do in the show. I found a lot of his goals came from beating defenseman wide, then cutting to the net and pulling a dee or to and sliding it in along the ice. That won’t happen in the NHL. I am aware that he is a great playmaker too, so no doubt he will be a great player someday, I just wish he shot the puck a bit more. (And yes I realize this is trying to bleed a rock dry when talking bad points about him).

    Where I’m going with this, is Jack Eichel isn’t a slouch. He was quoted as saying he will be the better player. Some would take that as an arrogant American speaking rubbish. Others might take it as an uber-talented player with supreme confidence and a burr in his saddle from all the McDavid hype.

    I personally think in 5-10 years Eichel may be the better player after watching him light up the World Championship. And before you trash this, think, other than watching YouTube highlights of McDavid and falling in love with him, what makes you so sure he is that much better?

    • JackB

      ” . . . what makes you so sure he is that much better?”

      Hundreds of scouts, all accomplished professionals, who concur that he is the best . . . I guess!

      Kyle Woodlief (Red Line Report) thinks McDavid’s hockey sense may be higher than Sidney Crosby, maybe comparable to Gretzky and Lemieux.

      • Cowbell_Feva

        Yes. But as I pointed out, that was at the junior level.

        I watched Eichel dominate grown men at the Worlds. As I also pointed out, the jump from OHL to NHL is a giant leap, especially if coming to a team that is as bad as the Oilers currently are.

        Nobody knows what will become in the future, but don’t paint me surprised if Eichel turns out to be better. Just a hunch.

  • Joy S. Lee

    * –
    My follow-up is that my version of the predicting the future line combinations is that McLellan will indeed team Hall and McDavid up together to scare the bejeebers out of opposing defenses. I expect Leon Draisaitl to be the right winger on that line. The two afterburners will get the puck into the offensive zone, and Draisaitl will come in behind in a position to be the relay man – which he’s really good at – to exploit the opening left behind in the defensive chaos of trying to cover those first two guys. From give-and-go’s to late-arriving defensemen, this trio makes great sense to me.

    And… our number one line last year of Pouliot-Nuge-Eberle suddenly becomes line 1B, faces easier competition, and lights it up in their own right.

    Sure, the pieces have to be interchangeable these days for real success, but that’s the way I see it playing out, at least to begin with. I think Leon is destined to make the team out of camp, as are Connor and Darnell. And I think it’s all good, even Nail on what hopefully becomes one of, or the best third line in hockey, too. (Where he can continue learning the game.)