GIVE IT TO THE KID

HatToss

When the hype machine is revved up to redline as it has been for Connor McDavid, it’s not very often a player, even one as obviously special and gifted as him, can live up to it.

Of course, we won’t know for years whether McDavid will deliver on the hoopla we heard before the Edmonton Oilers selected him first overall or the gushing praise reverberating from Rexall Place Monday after he scored five goals for fun in a scrimmage, but he damn sure has made an impression.

Maybe I’m getting soft and sentimental in my old age, but the moment that stuck with me didn’t come during his waltz-around – I’m not sure McDavid even kicked it into overdrive even once — on the ice during the scrimmage, it came after his dazzling display of dangle.

McDavid signed a hat, then motioned to a young fan behind the glass, his intended target, before tossing it over. When a loutish older fan who should know better reached in to snatch the lid, McDavid torched her with a world-class stink eye Mark Messier would be proud of and pointed at the child again. Message and hat delivered. That clip and full highlights are here.

SETTING THE BAR HIGH

Highbar

I’m not going to read too much into that gesture, but I think it’s worth noting. McDavid, 18, has handled every situation and every interview he’s faced during a ridiculously busy two weeks since the draft with maturity and grace. This was more of that. He’s an impressive young man.

McDavid was, of course, spectacular in an 8-6 win for Team White on the ice in front of 7,000 or so fans during a scrimmage that was played four-on-four and three-on-three, which is right in his wheelhouse, given what a dynamic skater he is.

“There was a lot of open ice. A lot of chances,” understated McDavid. “It was my first NHL camp and I really enjoyed it. We covered a lot of different areas — nutrition, fitness, obviously the on-ice parts. You just try and soak it all in. It’s the attention to detail. Every little thing matters.”

With orientation camp over, McDavid will rest and re-load and get ready for the next step.

“Of course it was fun,” he said. “It’s always fun to play in front of those kind of fans. The whole week was awesome. It was so exciting to be part of this week and see Edmonton and the fans. I think it’s been great. I think I have a better understanding of how excited they are with the Oilers in general.

“And they should be excited. There have been a lot of great changes. They’ve made a couple of trades and signed a couple of free agents. I think there are a lot of reasons to be excited about this franchise here.”

Count the young fan who got the hat among them.

THE WAY I SEE IT

Megaphone

  • I don’t mind the over-the-top enthusiasm about McDavid one bit and don’t see any need to throw a wet blanket on it. Yes, what we saw Monday was only a scrimmage. No, McDavid isn’t going to score five goals a game against real NHL opposition. And what about another D-man? Understood by most people with a functioning brain. Enjoy the ride. It’ll get real soon enough.
  • Somebody asked me the other day in the Monday Mailbag who my dark horse to make the team was. I said I didn’t have one. After last night, I might give Greg Chase some consideration as a longshot who might impress. Make the team? I don’t think so. Take a run? Could be.
  • I want to see more of the same from Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl during main camp. They’ve been very impressive, as you’d expect, so far, with some people already writing Nurse into the line-up. Nurse, especially, seems intent on forcing the issue. 
  • Can’t wait to see what lines coach Todd McLellan foresees going into main camp. I don’t know if Taylor Hall is a fit for McDavid on left wing because both like to carry the puck, but mercy that’s a lot of speed to throw at opposing D-men. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • Oilerz4life

    As a beer league goalie, if I win safeway score and win does that mean I’m under contract to the Oilers a million dollars too? That would be surreal.

    *Don’t tell me I would fit in with the rest of the prospects because that’s not very nice.

  • freelancer

    McDavid and Draisaitl on same line seems like a natural combo with their passing skills going forward . One would have to switch to wing , perhaps even Conner , to shelter him early on till he gets more experience . Pouliot has the speed and acumen to compliment the two of them even moreso than Yak . Sure they would try Yak as well but parts of his game are well below Pouliots 200 ft.game , which compliments the youngsters well . Nurse should make team as well .

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    From blog #54 : Additional to that blog I have Yak doing a very important role on third line , power play and having the skills to move up to top two lines on a minutes notice for anything , and especially filling in for injuries on top two lines . In a nutshell Yak should be key to most things including much time on powerplay as well . In the interim his 200 ft. game should improve immensely . He might get so good in that role, as to have a top line player deemed expendable for a top defenseman in the future while he takes over that position . Yak could end up being our ticket to success as such a complimentary player extraordinaire .

  • OilFarmer

    So, Connor McDavid

    It is going to be tough for him to live up to the hype. The real measure of we Oilers Fans will come when he struggles. Okay, maybe he never struggles … but the NHL is a man’s league and the best there is and it is setting the bar very high to expect that anyone would not have some struggles.

    The pressure on him must be immense. For me, that would probably be the toughest part to handle. But he seems to be prepared for it; that learning to handle great expectations has been part of his development.

    I am so thrilled he is an Oiler. This is going to be so fun to watch. I just hope we Oilers fans don’t go overboard with our disappointment if and when he turns out to be a mere mortal. So much excitement, so much emotion, could turn to so much rancor. Its happened lots here in Edmonton.

    Everyone needs to remember this guy is still a teenager. And then be thrilled with the positives as they emerge!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Walter White, zigzag, Big Bear, Clyde. These are the most common trolls over the last season, and trust me – I’ve been keeping track.

  • Anton CP

    I’m hoping 5 goals against the newly acquired D man for Flames, some Flamers have been bragging non-stop about how they got the best D in the league. It would be great to see that D get rip apart by yours truly.

  • Anton CP

    Just how good might McDavid be ? Might he Replicate Gretzky’s first season in NHL , and lead or tie for the scoring title ? He looks to have that sort of talent ! Oiler fans are relishing in that possibility once again .

  • toprightcorner

    Bedtime story for Oiler fans: From -NHL bleacher report . Projecting every NHL teams top 6 forwards for 2017 . Not sure when these reports were done but judge for yourself .

    Oilers -page 12 of 32 . Top 6
    Hall, Hopkins,Yakupov – Line1
    Zharkov,Gagner,Eberle – Line 2

    Column substance : Oilers done well last two years with a Stanley Cup win in 2016 over the ISLE..
    Art Ross and Oiler captain Taylor Hall has become biggest scoring threat in the NHL .

    44 goal scorer Yakupov continues as the biggest threat on power play . Eberle once again in top 10 scoring .

    Some fun reads on all the teams .

  • toprightcorner

    McDavids skill is impressive but I believe I am more impressed by his maturity and how he handles reporter questions and deals with fans excitement. They don’t grow fist class hockey players like this anymore

  • For our Calgary trolls :
    McDavid , in second grouping , beat Crosby in the NHL Fan Zone – TIM HORTONS ” THAT”S HOCKEY FRANCHISE FACEOFF ” via TSN . Gretzky easily took Robitaille in first grouping . Will be fun to see how Connor might fair when he is up against Gretzky .