SUNRISE, FL - The overwhelming thought amongst those in the hockey world is that Connor McDavid is ready to play in the NHL next season. The Oilers selected the highly talented centre first overall this year.
If McDavid expects to compete at the high level he’s capable of when he makes that leap, he says he needs to beef up.
“You’ve got to get a lot bigger and a lot stronger and faster and all that,” said McDavid. “You’re playing against men now. It’s a big jump. I have a big summer ahead of me for sure.”
McDavid was named the OHL and CHL Player of the Year this season, and recorded 120 points (44-76-120) in 47 games for the Erie Otters.
SUNRISE, FL - Since he was playing midget in Toronto, Connor McDavid has had high expectations. He was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and has played above his age group right up to junior, where he has had a highlight-filled career with the Erie Otters.
He has dealt with the outside pressure his whole career and that won’t stop him from working to be the best player he can be.
“My expectations for myself exceed any of those that are put on me,” said McDavid. “It’s something that I can’t really worry about. I’ve just got to make sure I’m playing my game and doing all that because if I meet my expectations the chances are I’ll meet your guys’ as well.”
It’s no secret the Oilers are exploring the goalie market ahead of tonight’s NHL Draft. With Robin Lehner being traded to Buffalo today for a first-round pick, it stands to reason that the Oilers could possibly do the same for another available netminder. However, Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli says that’s not going to happen.
“There are goalies that are available now today because of the enticement of the first-round pick but we’re not trading that pick for a goalie so it may not happen today then,” said Chiarelli.
“There is still a lot of goaltenders. For me, it’s about improving the D. We’ve improved our coaching and we’re going to try and improve our goaltending. We’re in on a few of these goalies. We’re in on some free agent goalies. We want to do the right thing but we don’t want to overspend either.”
While the Oilers won’t part with a first-round pick for a goaltender, a defenceman could still be in play. But the depth of this draft means the Oilers would rather hang onto the 16th overall pick.
“I’ve been entertaining some offers,” said Chiarelli. “We’ve had some good amateur meetings the last few days. There is going to be a really good player there. It would have to take something pretty good for me to move that pick.”
Chiarelli said he’d like to come away with two blueliners before the season: a puck mover and more of a defensive guy.
“If we can get both that would be great,” said Chiarelli. “I know we have some of those traits in the existing D. They’re going to play a better defensive game, they are going to know how to defend better. There are true defenders out there, there are puck movers, there are two-way guys. What’s interesting to me in this whole exercise is there are a lot of players that are coming out of woods here and I think that’s probably because we have cap space and roster spots. There are interesting names out there and I believe there will be more interesting names. Types of D, I’d probably like one of both if I could. If we can only get one of them that’s fine for now. As I said, I’d like to try and improve the defensive core and I’d like to continue to try and do that.”
Connor McDavid, the top prospect in the 2015 NHL Draft, spends a lot of time talking to the media. He’s asked a lot of questions, some that get repetitive. There is one question above all others he can’t escape.
“The question I probably hate the most is ‘how do you deal with the pressure?’ I think I’ve heard that question over 100 times, probably more than that this year,” said McDavid. “I don’t know. It’s just a question that is a little bit difficult to answer. It’s something everyone wants to know I guess.”
So how does McDavid answer that question now?
“I’ve been dealing with (the pressure) for a while now and I’m pretty used to it,” he said.
Top 2015 NHL Draft prospect Connor McDavid is passionate about being the best he can be. It’s in his DNA.
“I think it was just the way I was raised,” said McDavid. “I was raised in a normal family. My dad worked long hours, my mom worked long hours as well. They just instilled in me a hard-working attitude right from the start and that’s something I’ve always kind of taken with me.”
His passion and drive may come from his upbringing but he didn’t get to where he is today on that along. McDavid sets high expectations and goals for himself. But, at the same time, he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself.
“I’m hard on myself,” he said. “I think if you’re going to be good that’s the way it has to be. You have to have high expectations for yourself. I think I do have high expectations for myself. When I don’t meet them it’s upsetting, but there is a lot of pressure coming at me from the outside. I try not to put too much internal pressure on myself just because there is already enough of that out there.”
There is pressure. McDavid is touted as a generational talent, perhaps the best to come out of the draft in years. That’s out of his control. But don’t expect all the hype to get into his head. McDavid is focused.
“It doesn’t matter how I feel about it. I guess it’s the headline that has been made. There’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is the best that I can and be the best player I can be. Whether that meets expectations or not, that’s not up for me to decide.”
|Connors Road in Edmonton
Connor McDavid is the consensus first-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, which opens tomorrow night at BB&T Center.
Oilers fans are no doubt excited about the potential of welcoming the young centre from the Erie Otters. So excited, in fact, that some Edmontonians changed the Connors Road sign in the city to read “Connor McDavid”.
“A couple of people have showed me it and sent me it. It’s very flattering,” said McDavid. “If it is Edmonton I appreciate it very much; the support and the welcoming. It’s still 24 hours away from the pick and we’ll see who it is.”
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson called the prank “totally inappropriate” saying it causes a traffic safety challenge. He then added, “but that’s cute.”
The first round of the draft begins at 5 p.m. MDT.
MIAMI, FL - A handful of the top prospects for this year’s NHL Draft attended a batting practice at Marlins Park in Miami, FL on Wednesday.
Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome, Noah Hanifin, Mitch Marner and Lawson Crouse all took some swings at the plate. Crouse and Hanifin had the upper hand, as the two played baseball when they were younger. One underdog was Marner, who apparently didn’t have the faith of his peers.
“I know Stromer was saying he thought I wasn’t going to get it out of the infield,” said Marner. “He thought I was only going to be able to get it to the bases and that’s about it. I know a couple of guys were going against him on that one. Nothing too serious, just joking around with each other.”
|The top prospects pose for the cameras at Marlins Park.
Marner and Strome are good friends and have known each other for a while.
“That was a bet, but he was pretty good actually,” said Strome. “I don’t think he was the worst one. Maybe he’s not the biggest guy but he really is a tremendous player. He did pretty well out there.”
As the smallest prospect there, Marner did pretty well.
“I wasn’t too good but I think I out-did at least one of the guys, hopefully. I guess we’ll see. We’re giving it to each other about who did better. At the end it’s all fun. That’s what it’s all about,” said Marner.
Another wager was who might be able to hit the ball out of the park. The big power forward Crouse was the lone player to hit a home run.
“Eichel had a bet going with that,” said Hanifin. “I think he got one out of the outfield. That was about it. We did have a bet who was going to hit one out. I think Lawson won that one.”
On Monday, the Oilers announced another shake-up to their hockey operations department. Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced Head Amateur Scout Stu MacGregor and Head Pro Scout Morey Gare have been relieved of their duties. Also, amateur scouts Brad Davis and Kent Hawley, pro scout Dave Semenko and Director of Coaching and Special Projects Billy Moores were relieved of their duties.
“These are difficult decisions,” Chiarelli told the media on Monday. “I’m someone who has been on the job for two months and we’re relieving some really good people and people who have been here for a long time. These decisions aren’t taken lightly. In my time here I’ve gotten to know these guys in question and they’re all good people. I wanted to lean out the staff a bit. I wanted to reposition some people in duties. These are hard decisions that we have to make, that I had to make. It was difficult. It was a tough weekend.”
Chiarelli answered a question of whether or not it was differences in philosophies. Chiarelli said it had more to do with the process of improving the Oilers as a whole.
“I think what it is is imparting a certain way of doing business, imparting a certain philosophy. It’s not really a reflection of them,” said Chiarelli. “At the end of the day, we have to get better at evaluating players and developing players. Unfortunately, some people have to lose their jobs. We all have different philosophies of how to develop players. There’s nothing really magical about it. We just have to get these things done and be successful at it. That’s one of the reasons I was brought in here.”
Chiarelli says there will be more shuffling of roles and responsibilities and he may add someone else to the department soon. However, more changes are not likely until after the draft this week.
EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers hold two picks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft: the first-overall selection and another pick at 16. With 10 total picks in the draft, the Oilers have assets to move. Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli says almost everything is on the table.
“I’m open to all types of offers except for the first pick overall,” said Chiarelli.
That 16th pick is very valuable, considering how deep and talented this draft is touted to be. That also means it is valuable to other teams in a possible trade. But if Chiarelli had his choice, he may want to keep that pick considering the type of prospect they could acquire.
“There’s going to be a really good player with that pick,” said Chiarelli. “Instinctively, you want to keep the pick. Especially as the draft approaches, you get a little more pumped about that pick and that player. Those picks are valuable on a number of levels. The other level is it could get you a pretty good player. Instinctively, yes. I’d like to keep it.”
BUFFALO, NY - It is clear that Dylan Strome holds his Erie Otters teammate, Connor McDavid, in high regard. McDavid, the top-ranked prospect in the 2015 NHL Draft has had a lot of success so far in his hockey career and Strome has been witness to the type of player he is.
Strome was asked what Edmonton fans might see from McDavid, should he go first overall in the draft as expected.
“Be ready is all I can say,” Strome said. “He’s going to do some things to get the whole arena going ‘ooh’ or ‘ahh’ and doing something like that. They’ll see it and it’s pretty spectacular to watch. If anyone can get into a practice, that might be even more impressive. What he does out there to some of his teammates and some guys on the team. It’s fun, he’s fun to watch and he’s pretty special so they’ll get to love him.”