When Connor McDavid is drafted to an NHL team this June, it will mark a full decade since Sidney Crosby’s draft year. Crosby has been the NHL’s marquee player since his debut and has lived up to the billing of what constitutes a generational player. He is a big presence on the ice with his sublime offensive ability and is huge in marketing for the league. “Sid the Kid” is no longer a kid, and has become a seasoned veteran. Crosby will continue to dominate, but according to most scouting reports No.87 will have a new challenger to his best player moniker in McDavid and his No.97. The past decade has seen several hyped prospects but none have matched the hype of McDavid.
A Decade of Hype from Sidney Crosby to Connor McDavid
Prior to Crosby, the hockey world had few players with the hype of being the “Next One”. Vincent Lecavalier was hyped by former Tampa Bay owner Art Williams as the Michael Jordan of hockey, but despite a having a good career, Lecavalier has never quite lived up to the Michael Jordan comparison. Alexandre Daigle was for all intents and purposes a bust, despite putting up gaudy offensive numbers in junior. Eric Lindros was considered the Next One but injuries derailed what was a promising career, and he may have been the best all around player in the league in the mid to late 90s. Crosby was in danger of becoming the next Lindros in regards to his concussion issues, but has since bounced back and continues to occupy a spot at the top of the NHL’s pecking order.
McDavid is the best thing since Crosby in many ways. His combination of talent on the ice and character off of it make him the total package. His offensive ability is off the charts and his speed, agility, and ability to change directions on a dime make him a very dangerous player. However it is his ability to anticipate plays, and his outstanding vision that sets him apart, like many of the greats that have come before him. McDavid made news when he infamously broke his hand this past fall in a fight. Pundits knocked him for putting himself in that position, but McDavid insists he does not want to rely on others to fight his battles for him. Media hype has increased in the past decade with social media playing a huge role. At the World Juniors, McDavid had the media in his face every step of the way but handled it like a pro and continued to produce.
Between 2005-2015, the quality of NHL stars has been excellent. The one player who received similar hype to McDavid was New York Islanders captain John Tavares. Tavares was the first to be granted exceptional status into the OHL and his numbers were phenomenal. He spent four years as a superstar in the OHL and with Team Canada. Tavares has lived up to the hype in many ways. He is captain of the Islanders, has an Olympic gold medal and produces at nearly a point per game clip. He is certainly amongst the top players in the league, and was part of Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics (though he got hurt in the tournament). Tavares is everything the Islanders could envision in their franchise player. McDavid has developed a friendship with Tavares and has relied on him for advice on going through the scrutiny of being an exceptional player.
Other players who received huge hype include Steven Stamkos who had a great junior career but was overshadowed at times by Tavares. Nathan MacKinnon followed a similar path to Crosby but his numbers don’t match up to his predecessors. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane had their share of hype but not to the extent of their peers.
The past decade was a rich one in terms of developing NHL superstars and there are already some big names on the horizon. The 2015 NHL draft has McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin and many other intriguing players. 2016 features Auston Matthews, Jesse Puljujarvi and Sean Day. Every year the hockey world finds a new player to hype as the next superstar whether it’s deserved or not. Kids today are bigger, stronger, faster and more talented at younger ages so the future of the game is in good hands.
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