SUNRISE, FL - Connor McDavid has had a long wait since the Draft Lottery in April. But when the Oilers called his name, selecting him first overall tonight at the BB&T Center, he couldn’t be happier.
McDavid has been monitoring the Oilers changes over the last couple months, including the promotion of Bob Nicholson to CEO, the hiring of Peter Chiarelli as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, as well as Todd McLellan being named Head Coach.
“Not to say any of the other guys did a bad job or anything, it’s just a great change,” said McDavid. “Mr. McLellan and Mr. Chiarelli are great hockey minds. Obviously, Mr. Nicholson has come in and done such a great job. It’s an exciting time to be an Oiler. I know the fans are excited and they should be. It will be a great time.”
McDavid says those changes and their effect on the fan base are among the things that get him the most pumped to join Edmonton.
“I think just the change and the excitement of the fans and the long list of great players that have played there. There is so much to be excited about to be an Edmonton Oiler. I’m just thrilled.”
“I was a big fan of those guys when they were drafted,” said McDavid. “I followed them a little bit so of course I’ve watched the Oilers a little bit here and there whenever I can. I try to get to bed a little earlier than that but I was an Oiler fan for sure.”
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.”
WATCH DIRECTLY IN YOUTUBE
Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli addressed s the media on Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. MDT. If you missed it, you can watch the full archive above.
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.”
NHL teams today were able to announce their home openers in advance of Thursday morning's full schedule release. For the Oilers, they'll be playing an opponent not usually reserved for openers, and they'll be doing it for both their home opener and season opener.
The team's season opener will be on the road against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, October 8. Then the following Thursday (October 15), the Oilers will kick off their final season at Rexall Place against the same St. Louis Blues.