I am a witness. No, I'm not reminiscing about the LeBron James/Nike ads, but I got to witness 15-year old
Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters on an OHL rink for the first time on Thursday. I got to be a witness of the Connor McDavid Experience.
For almost a year, I've heard about how good the Newmarket, Ontario native is. Scouts have drooled over his all-around play. He's been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star and The Hockey News. I managed to have seen him play in a couple of games online, but I got to witness Connor McDavid live and in person.
I was at the WFCU Centre as the Windsor Spitfires hosted McDavid and the Erie Otters yesterday. I was curious and anxious to see #97 of the Otters, and for the next three years McDavid will be under the junior hockey microscope, much like John Tavares who has had one of the most celebrated careers in OHL history.
Did I mention that McDavid is only 15 years old? The way he played on Thursday, he didn't play like one, but he played like a seasoned veteran. He was as good as advertised as he made some nifty moves after he got out of the penalty box for high-sticking in the third period of a 2-1 loss to the Spitfires. Besides scoring the Otters' lone goal, he more than held his own against 16 to 20 year olds.
I don't play a scout, but I try to be one in front my friends and readers so here's my low-down. McDavid has exceptional on-ice vision with tremendous scoring ability, who also plays in all types of situations. He has the ability to make his teammates around him better.
McDavid leads all OHL rookies in scoring with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his first 10 games in
the OHL and he's just scratching the surface. Imagine how much better of a player he'll be in a few months or by the time he's played his last game in the OHL. He's already the projected number one overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
This past spring, McDavid became the third hockey player to have been granted "exceptional player status"
to play in the OHL after he amassed 209 points in 88 games for the Toronto Marlboros of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). It was more than good enough for the Otters to select McDavid first overall in this past March's OHL Priority Selection.
Otters general manager Sherry Bassin has mentioned McDavid in the same sentence as Mario Lemieux, Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman. That's some pretty good company. Bassin has said that McDavid's the best he's ever seen.
McDavid's even got an endorsement from his idol Sidney Crosby. Let's not forget that Crosby was a major player in the junior ranks once upon a time. Crosby had a celebrated junior career with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) where he racked up 303 points (120 goals, 183 assists) in 121 games. At 16, Crosby got an endorsement from Wayne Gretzky, who said that if there's a person who could break some of his records, it would be Crosby, who has indeed broken some of number 99's records. Talk about passing the torch.
Going to the rink where McDavid will play, especially on the road, will be like going to see a Rush concert, but you'd want to see Neil Peart play the drums. You'll walk away amazed.For the next two and a half years, there will be plenty of opportunities to see McDavid play on an OHL rink.
Just imagine how good Connor McDavid will be by the time he completes his junior hockey career. Last nightwas the early stages of the Connor McDavid Experience.