LaFleur, Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby. Those are the names of hockey’s greatest stars. Every decade or two, another name joins the prestigious list. In 2015, a new player will look to add his name: Connor McDavid.
McDavid, a three-year OHL veteran, was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers last Friday, who haven’t been good since Gretzky.
The former Erie Otter has all the makings of a star. He put up his uniform number (97) in goals for the Otters, and, according to a former NHL scout, can be a two-way forward if he wants to. His stats also included 285 OHL points, including 66 in his rookie year, when he was only 15.
Scouting websites pore over him. Eliteprospects.com says he’s “a generational talent.” According to Hockey’s Future, “he has the ability to make other players around him better.” Mike Morreale of NHL.com says McDavid has “game-changing potential.”
You get the idea.
But he will join a team that has frankly stunk the past decade or so, and McDavid is expected to change their fortunes. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone, but if anybody can do it, it’s him. In fact, he’s done it before.
He was drafted first-overall in the OHL Draft when he was just a freshman in high school by Erie. They were 10-52-6 the year before McDavid, by far the worst team in the league.
After McDavid’s rookie-of-the-year season, they improved by nine wins, still not very good, but progress.
In his second year, their record vaulted up to 52-14-2, and in their third year, they won another 50 games and made a finals appearance.
Their attendance also spiked, going from 2,855 pre-McDavid to almost 5,000 in his final season.
He perfectly fits the mold as the NHL’s next big thing, and seems ready to help the Oilers snap out of their slump and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender like when the Great One was there.
McDavid seems mature enough to face the burden without any off-ice problems. According to Austin Murphy’s recent Sports Illustrated story, McDavid spent his time in Erie (when he wasn’t playing hockey or in high school) entertaining the family he was staying with’s 10-year old son, engaging in competitive knee hockey battles and participating in pee-wee hockey practices.
He could have been out partying like many other people his age, but instead he focused on hockey, a good sign for the Oilers.
Other players could have used his star power to pull a John Elway and orchestrate a trade out of Edmonton. But he happily put on the fancy new specially made alternate orange jersey with number-97 on it.
He joins an already-talented and young core group of forwards in Edmonton. Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are some.
Soon, the Oilers will be in playoff contention, and maybe, if it all works out, we could see McDavid hoisting the Stanley Cup just like Gretzky did.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Harrison Hamm