It was a sunny April afternoon in Northern Alberta, one of those days where going inside and watching television seems contrary to logic and reason. That morning, I wrote the following:
- Light a candle. Send a message heavenward to the God who’ll listen, find some instant karma and think good thoughts. People will tell you the Edmonton Oilers don’t deserve McDavid, I say diddly squat. Edmonton Oilers fans have earned the right to have two lottery picks and win the day, and perhaps the hockey Gods have been beating fans senseless these years in order for us to earn our reward. Source
As I sat down to watch the draft lottery, I swear to God the idea of winning the thing never crossed my mind. I had written a post in the early morning hours of the day—a mock draft that I quickly and clumsily had to revise later—and had resigned myself to McDavid heading to Buffalo.
There are no words, rhymes or chimes to truly describe it, beyond the universal line we all share in historic moments: “Where we you?” and that’s about all there is to say about it. I was in my easy chair, stone cold shocked and spilling my wine. I’m still a little that way about it.
PREVIOUSLY NO. 1 ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2005: G Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers
- December 2006: L Viacheslav Trukhno
- December 2007: C Sam Gagner
- December 2008: C Riley Nash
- December 2009: L Magnus Paajarvi
- December 2010: L Taylor Hall
- December 2011: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- December 2012: R Nail Yakupov
- December 2013: D Darnell Nurse
- December 2014: C Leon Draisaitl
McDavid continues a recent run of centers, Edmonton’s depth at the position now is (or will be) the strongest since the Stanley teams. Some day, out in the future, the Oilers could have a top 3C of Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl. Two acquired with No. 1 overall selections, the other inside the top five overall—all of this in a five-year period. Now that’s a cluster!
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Ranked No. 1 across the board. This is a generational player.
- Craig Button, TSN: Two words; unprecedented speed. Skating speed, hand quickness and mental processing that he executes simultaneously to threaten defenders and create opportunities. He would be the first pick at every draft since Sidney Crosby in 2005, perhaps even in Crosby’s draft year. Source.
- Red Line: Dynamic speed and acceleration forces dmen to back off the blue line. Has a top end separation gear that’s a blur.
- ISS: An intelligent, creative player that can wait for the play to come to him or create something out of nothing. A natural playmaker that is not afraid to go to the middle of the ice to make plays and makes those around him better. Has elite hockey IQ and knows where to be on the ice at all times.
- McKeens: Explodes up the ice in one stride and can blow by a defender before he even has time to pivot .. incredibly balanced and strong on his skates – tough to knock down despite countless attempts by the opposition.
- Future Considerations: An offensive threat with tremendous speed, McDavid is lethal in transition and makes opponents step back because of his ability to burn them quickly.
- Black Book: Connor possesses electrifying speed and acceleration. He gets his feet moving instantaneously and gets everything out of his stride, allowing him to pull away from good skaters quickly. At least once per game you would think he has a turbo button for his skates. His vision is outstanding and he always seems to know who’s around him and what his best option is. He combines these two skills to create plays for his
- “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”. –Connor McDavid, when asked if there was anyone in the NHL he looks at and says ‘that’s the player I’d like to become’? (2012 interview)
- Connor McDavid about his combine interview with the Oilers: “It was exciting and obviously that’s the kind of team you want to be with if you are drafted No. 1. [Chiarelli] was saying all the right things. He was intense and he’s definitely looking to win. He’s not going to settle for mediocrity. I just want to make an impression with teams I talk to, make sure they understand what kind of guy I am and what I can bring to their team. Other than that I just want to make sure they know I’m doing all the right things, working hard in the gym, and maybe they’ll put together a decent score for me.” Source
Connor McDavid’s rookie season started slowly, but he smashed through by game five; there were two games in his first 13 I’ll remember a long time. The first one came at the Saddledome, where points go to die for the Oilers. The young man seemed quiet early, taking everything in, then proceeded to cut through Flames with ease, scoring two goals and adding an assist. The second game I’ll remember forever, it was against the Habs and McDavid was on another planet in terms of hockey acumen. I’m an emotional person, and hockey is an emotional game when done right. That night against Montreal chills ran down my spine and I could not sit still for love nor money. Whatever powers from the Gods he summoned that night, I thank them kindly and the 18-year old along with it. It was beautiful—0-3 to 4-3 before you could get to the second corner in Cournoyer. Unforgettable. The good kind, the Nat King Cole kind.
- Corey Pronman: “He will be on the Oilers top 6F right away and there’s a non-zero chance he passes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the depth chart by the end of the season. Once he skates in his first NHL game in October he’ll be in the upper echelon of the NHL in terms of his speed and skill. It’s just a matter of his physical game and what he does this summer to get ready for the physical grind and much bigger, stronger players facing him.”
- Taylor Hall: “He’s got a lot of foot speed. He seems to glide faster than most guys skate in full speed. It’s fun to be out here with him, fun to hang around him and hopefully make him feel more comfortable for what he’s got in store.” Source
- Todd McLellan: “We all focus on his offense, but he’s responsible [defensively]. I felt good about his penalty-killing. I didn’t know I was going to use him, but as the night went on, we used him and he was good positionally. When you have legs like that, you can recover from errors a lot quicker, and he has the ability to do that. But he’s not flying all over the place in the D zone, he stops, he slows down, he understands he can get back to full speed quickly. He was very responsible defensively tonight. We’ll see where it goes from there.”
- Jeff Chapman, Copper & Blue: “Connor McDavid, will you marry me?”
- Alan Hull, Copper & Blue: “McDavid is better than I thought possible.”
- Benoit Pouliot: “With his speed, with his strength, with his hands, he’s never out of the play. I’m a big fan right now.”
- McDavid on beating the Habs: “We have been finding ways to lose. To do it the other way around feels pretty special.”
- Brian King (PDO): “How many times will anyone make Subban look that bad? McDavid has completely taken this game over.”
- Heather Marginet: “McDavid makes Subban look like a junior dman!”
- Dave Lumley: “I came, I saw, I believe.”
- Todd McLellan: “Connor has met our expectations so far. Perhaps one of the things that his impressed me so far is his ability to handle pressure, both at the rink and away from it. He’s a tremendous young man.”
- Lowetide post-game notes after Detroit game: Connor McDavid has this habit of sussing out the situation before impacting a game. He was effective but not impactful early in the game, and then late in the first period did a blue bayou past a shocked Detroit defender. After that, it was golden, like he’d proven it to himself and he crashed through whatever false ceiling held him back. From that point on, he was breathtaking. The goal was sensational, the backchecking a sublime chaser, and the play where he somehow avoided a check and still kept possession? I’ll call that one impossible.
- Justin Cuthbert: Dreger said he was told that McDavid’s labrum was fully intact as surgeons repaired a “clean” break of the collarbone, and hypothesized that the best-case scenario for his return is seven-to-eight weeks. Source
Connor McDavid is kinda good at hockey. https://t.co/Q2yGkkpMce
— Gino Hard (@Ginohard_) October 22, 2015
5×5 points per 60: 2.94 No. 2 among forwards
5×4 points per 60: 5.05 No. 4 among forwards
Qual Comp: No. 3 among C’s
Qual Team: No. 2 among C’s
Corsi Rel: 12.5 No. 3 among F’s
Corsi for % 5×5: 51.6
Zone Start: 60.4
Shots on goal/percentage: 24/20.8
Boxcars: 13GP, 5-7-12 (before injury, on pace for 32-44-76)
McDavid is 3.48/60 with Nail Yakupov (and Benoit Pouliot) this season, that’s the kind of chemistry that can make an enormous difference. We’re going to miss him like mad until he returns, but those baker’s dozen games were an absolute treat.
I took a selfie when I watch McDavid score goal tonight. Not bad for 18 years old 🙂 pic.twitter.com/8VZdCuMLzQ
— Jaromir Jagr (@68Jagr) October 22, 2015
Well, it’s going to be awhile, months instead of weeks. We probably should let go of the Calder idea, but to hell with that noise I’ll keep a candle lit and curse the hockey Gods. No matter how long he is out, Connor McDavid is a splendid, incredible talent who does in fact make an enormous difference to the Edmonton Oilers—today. Dave Lumley said it all.
THE 2015 ENTRY DRAFT
- Connor McDavid No. 1 overall and a generational talent. It’s an amazing time in team history, delayed. No. 1 prospect.
- Caleb Jones No. 117 overall and a more substantial prospect than we assumed on draft day. Currently 16GP, 4-9-13 in the WHL and a prospect of interest. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- Ethan Bear No. 124 overall and he’s as good as the numbers I was looking at before the draft. Nice two-way ability and he’s 17GP, 4-13-17 in Seattle of the WHL so far this season. Inside the Winter Top 20.
- John Marino No. 154 overall and a solid combination of speed and skill. At 6.02, 185 he has what scouts call a ‘projectable frame’ and offensively (13GP, 1-9-10) he’s probably in the range or a little shy of Jones and Bear. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- Miroslav Svoboda No. 208 overall and a reasonable bet on draft day. He’s playing in the Czech 2 league and is 8GP, 4.51 .866. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- Ziyat Paigin No. 209 overall and an interesting prospect. He’s 11GP, 0-3-3 (his goal was changed to an assist) and playing more after the trade to Sochi. 6.06, 210, I don’t know if that’s a projectable frame or an actual structure but he’s a player of interest. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
His EV scoring is my favorite thing about early McDavid, he compares well to some famous rookies over the years in 5×5 points-per-60.
- Connor McDavid 2015-16 2.94
- Mark Stone 2014-15 2.57
- Bobby Ryan 2008-09 2.55
- Jeff Skinner 2010-11 2.44
- Patrick Kane 2007-08 2.27
- Nicklas Backstrom 2007-08 2.25
- Filip Forsberg 2014-15 2.23
- Max Domi 2015-16 2.18
- Nail Yakupov 2012-13 2.14
- Ondrej Palat 2013-14 2.13
- Logan Couture 2010-11 2.10
- Nathan MacKinnon 2013-14 2.07
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2011-12 1.95
- Johnny Gaudreau 2014-15 1.74
- Matt DuChene 2009-10 1.66
- Gabriel Laneskog 2011-12 1.63
- Taylor Hall 2010-11 1.57
- Jonathan Huberdeau 2012-13 1.53
- John Tavares 2009-10 1.32
That’s incredible. At 18, he’s firing at about .5 above Patrick Kane, who arrived to a much stronger NHL team. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and McDavid took a month to figure out the best league on the planet. Astonishing. If he hadn’t come along the hockey Gods would have had to invent him.