McDavid era begins as Oilers draft Canadian phenom first

Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:14pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - Connor McDavid, a Canadian ice hockey prodigy whose skills have been compared to Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky's, was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the first pick of the National Hockey League Draft on Friday.

The 18-year-old center's selection was not a surprise to anyone as he has been considered the most coveted prospect for years given his hockey sense, skating wizardry, deft passing and vision for the game's finer offensive points.

McDavid said the sky-high expectations that await him when the 2015-16 NHL season opens in October, along with comparisons to some of the game's greatest players, are nothing new.

"It's something that I've been dealing with for a long time now and there's nothing I can do about them," he said shortly after slipping on his No. 97 blue and orange Oilers jersey.

"The hardest person on me is me and my expectations exceed any of those put on me so I am just going to do the best that I can and go out there and work as hard as I can."

Considered the NHL's most marketable prospect since Sidney Crosby was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2005, McDavid racked up a staggering 120 points in 47 games while playing junior hockey for the Ontario Hockey League's Erie Otters last season.

The hype surrounding him was so intense that there was as much focus on the bottom of the NHL standings last season as the top given the increased odds of winning a weighted lottery, and rights to the top pick, the more a team lost.

McDavid joins a struggling Edmonton team that has missed the playoffs in each of the last nine seasons despite owning the first pick in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 NHL Drafts.   Continued...

Erie Otters' Connor McDavid poses during a photo-op before the Canadian Hockey League awards ceremony at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, May 30, 2015. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger