Connor McDavid: Countdown to NHL Draft Day - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Connor McDavid: Countdown to NHL Draft Day

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He's been called the best junior hockey player on the planet. 

He's predicted to be the number one pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.

That athlete, is Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid.  For the past three years, he's been showcasing his hockey talents at the Erie Insurance Arena.

At the age of 15, McDavid became the third player granted exceptional hockey status and was drafted first overall by the Erie Otters in the 2012 OHL Draft.

"I didn't really know too much about Erie,” said McDavid.  “They're kind of off the radar, you never hear too much about them, and then the next day, you're a part of them.  It was a pretty special day for me."

Ever since being drafted, he's been putting fans in seats.

"He's certainly worth the price of admission,” said Erie Otters fan Jeff Peters.  “Every time he touches the puck, I think the Otters have a chance to score."

"I think he is a great role model for the children,” said Erie Otters fan Carrie Farkasovski. “Actually, they just did a program at my son's school and he got to meet him, so I just think he's a great role model."

Throughout his career, McDavid has drawn comparisons to some of the top players in the NHL, such as Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky.  Similarities, Connor's teammates say he's earned.

"He's one of the best players in the world,” said Erie Otters centerman Dylan Strome.  “Probably one of the best players I've ever played with."

"He's always a step ahead of everyone,” said Erie Otters defenseman Kurtis MacDermid.  “When he's out there, you've got to be ready to give him the puck and also receive it, because he can find you in every situation.”

"For somebody who hasn't seen him play, he's very exciting, electrifying, just somebody who has tremendous speed,” said Erie Otters coach Kris Knoblauch.  “With that skill, he makes defenders very vulnerable.”

As the potential number one pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, hockey experts predict him to be the next NHL superstar.

"It's something that I'm getting more and more use to I guess,” said McDavid.  “Those comparisons started when I was a little bit younger, I've been kind of use to them now.  They are very flattering, but at the end of the day, they don't mean much.  You still have to go out on the ice and do your thing and make sure that you're still performing.  If you get caught up in all of the hype, you're going to lose yourself and you're not going to be the same player."

I asked McDavid about his response to reports of teams such as the Buffalo Sabres tanking to get him.

"I don't think that's happening, or anything like that,” said McDavid.  “I guess they are losing games.  There's not a chance in the world that they are doing that on purpose.  That's for sure.  If you're a hockey player, you're trying to win every game.  It's in your competitive nature not to do that.  So I know for sure, no one is tanking on purpose or anything like that.  But wherever you end up will be special."

However, McDavid did get a taste of the treatment he'll receive if he ends up on the Sabres.  Last October, Buffalo hosted a game between the Erie Otters and Niagara IceDogs.

“We had a lot of fans come out,” said McDavid.  “I think we had over 11,000 people at that game.  It was a very good turnout.  We had a lot of fun, and played a good game, and it was a fun experience."

But shortly after that game, there was a devastating blow for the predicted future superstar.  McDavid broke his hand in a hockey fight.

"It all just kind of flashes before your eyes,” said McDavid.  “You think it's your draft year.  I had the world World Juniors coming up, and it's something I've always wanted to do well in.  You're thinking that might not be an option now, (I was) just worried about the season and what might happen."

As it turns out, the injury was not too serious.  In fact, McDavid went on to play in the World Junior Championship and won the championship with team Canada.  His next stop will be the NHL.

"It's a little surreal right now,” said McDavid.  “You wait so long for this NHL Draft and hope to one day get drafted to the NHL, but by no means is the work over."

McDavid credits his time as an Otter for the player that he is today.

“This is the biggest jump from junior to professional,” said McDavid.  “If I'm able to do that at some point, it will be a dream come true."

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