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Connor McDavid has been hyped as one of the best up and coming young hockey players for several years now. There have even been some who have said he’s been overhyped. Well, given his performance this season, that quite simply isn’t true, if anything he’s been underhyped. He has dominated at the OHL level, was great at the World Juniors, and has generally done everything that he could possibly this year to solidify his spot as the best talent in the NHL draft. While he missed some time with a broken hand this year, he still finished third in OHL scoring with 120 points in just 47 games.
Center — shoots L
Born Jan 13 1997 — Richmond Hill, ONT
Height 6.01 — Weight 187 [185 cm/85 kg]
Quite simply, McDavid is the best prospect I have seen since Sidney Crosby. Yes, better than Steven Stamkos, better than John Tavares, and better than Nathan MacKinnon all were at the same age. He is quite simply off the charts in terms of talent right now, and as much as I like Jack Eichel, this is not the two-horse race that some are trying to make it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, Eichel would fight to be the first overall pick if taken in any of the last five NHL drafts, but this year, its McDavid a clear #1, Eichel a clear #2, and then everyone else.
Lets start with looking at the offensive weapons here, and McDavid has it all. Exceptional hands and stickhandling ability, he can dangle past a defender and does an excellent job of protecting the puck and maintaining possession. His hockey sense and decision making is already at an elite level. His decision making and vision are excellent, he reads the play very well and always seems to keep the puck moving in a smart and efficient manner. His passing is outstanding as the young centre has the ability to thread pucks through tight spaces and put passes tape to tape at high speeds. Connor McDavid also possesses an accurate shot, with a good release. McDavid’s ability to make all these plays at a high speed, and to never have to slow down his feet to control the puck is a huge asset.
When we talk about skating, it is quite simply outstanding. He has the ability to change gears quickly and effectively and this aids him in beating defenders. His top speed is outstanding, but its the acceleration and the ability to vary his attacks, to slow the game down when necessary or to make the quick play that really sets him apart. The unpredictability can leave defenders flat footed as he quickly accelerates around them. Or he can look like he his going to beat his man wide and suddenly slow down, opening up space for a shot or quick play in front of the defender. His agility and edge work is also outstanding. He has shown the ability to change direction on a dime, which makes him an absolute nightmare to defend. He also has very good balance and is a lot stronger on his skates than most expect. He added some strength to his frame this off-season and has become extremely hard to knock off the puck. He probably can even add more muscle as he continues to mature, which will only help him as he begins his NHL career.
Its rare to see a shift where McDavid’s line is on its heels at the junior level, so assessing the defensive aspect of his game can be difficult. That said, McDavid shows strong play in the faceoff circle, and is a willing back checker. His ability to read the play and anticipate passes really helps him as he can create turnovers and quickly transition onto offence.
Its hard to find a player for whom to compare McDavid’s style to. He recently compared his own game to Tyler Bozak, and I’m not sure that’s a comparison I would agree with (even though I personally always make these comparisons about style and not talent). There are parts of McDavid’s game that are Sidney Crosby, there are other part of his game that resemble Pavel Bure, there are other parts of McDavid’s game that resemble Pat Lafontaine. Simply put thouh, McDavid is a generational talent. Any time the NHL makes changes to the draft lottery, and you see fans openly cheer for their team to lose, you know that the player up for grabs is special.
Here are some videos available on youtube. I put together a quick playlist of 7 or 8 highlight reels out there.
Check back tomorrow for my #2 profile in the NHL draft.
Main Photo- LAKE PLACID, NY – AUGUST 08: Connor McDavid #17 of Team Canada skates in warmups prior to the game against Team Sweden during the 2013 USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 8, 2013 in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)