Before I get started telling you some stuff that you most likely already know about phenom Connor McDavid, I want to go over a thing or two regarding LBC's mock draft. The first thing to keep in mind is don't take it too seriously as far matching up teams and players goes, especially as we get later into the round. The main focus of this upcoming series of articles is to help familiarize readers, those who are aren't total draftniks already, with the top prospects in this year's Entry Draft. After all, it is taking place at the Florida Panthers very own BB&T Center on June 26-27.
We thought this would be a fun way to present individual player profiles instead of just going down a list from Central Scouting. We'll be staying in draft order to keep things simple (no trades), but the staff members making the picks will certainly have the latitude to go off the board if they feel strongly about a certain prospect going at a certain spot to a certain team. There might not be a true rotation to who is making the staff pick due to scheduling reasons. It's quite possible (likely) that myself or Shane, for instance, could alternate for a spell or even make multiple picks in a row before someone else jumps in, due to the availability factor. Remember, this is more about telling you lot about the players and less about us nailing the draft or the clubs doing the choosing, though we will definitely keep team needs in mind when making our selections. We just won't be getting heavy into stuff (organizational depth charts, salary cap, free agency outlook, etc.) along those lines.
If you'd like a more Panther-centric view of who could be taken as Florida's choice at pick #11 of the first round before we mock our way there, check out Shane's excellent "Look Ahead" series. Click here for Take One - Take Two and Take Three.
Now, let's get the ball rolling. With the first pick in the 2015 Litter Box Cats Mock Draft, the Edmonton Oilers select:
Connor McDavid - C Erie Otters
There is absolutely no drama here. Despite their problems on the blue line and in net, and the bounty of ballyhooed young forwards already on the roster, the Oilers and new GM Peter Chiarelli are simply not going to pass on the best prospect to come down the pike since Sidney Crosby. Chiarelli will probably sprint to the podium to make the selection.
This season, McDavid racked up 120 points (44G/76A) in 47 regular season games with the Otters, capturing the Red Tilson Trophy as OHL player of the year. When the intensity ratcheted up in the postseason, he responded to the pressure by posting 49 points (21G/28A) in 20 games as Erie advanced to league semifinals before being bounced by Panthers prospect Josh Brown and the Oshawa Generals, who are on the verge on claiming the Memorial Cup. As a reference point, his league-leading 49 points were 23 better than Nick Ritchie's second-place total of 26.
McDavid broke into the OHL in 2012-13 as a 15-year-old, the third player to be granted exceptional status by the league after John Tavares and our very own Aaron Ekblad. He put up 66 points in 63 games, winning the Emms Family Award as the OHL's top rookie and served notice that he would be gunning for the top spot in the 2015 Entry Draft. McDavid followed that up with 99 points in 56 games the next season, going from -24 to +47, showing considerable growth in all three zones. This year he finished a hefty +60 and also amassed a career-high 48 PIM, showing he's got a little bit of grit in his game as well. McDavid missed six weeks after dropping the gloves to duke it out with Mississauga's Bryson Cianfrone.
Internationally, McDavid has represented Canada three times. He won gold as member of Canada's U18 entry in 2013 at Sochi, Russia, leading the tournament in both goals and points. At the 2014 World Junior Championship, he put up 4 points in 7 games in a limited role on a Canadian team that finished in fourth place. In 2015, McDavid scored 3 goals and added a tournament-leading 8 assists in 7 games as Canada came home with the gold.
Eliteprospects Joe Cole had this to say about McDavid:
A generational talent, Connor McDavid is a catalyst for positive plays in all three zones. Thinks the game analytically and recognizes scoring chances before they have even happened. Blessed with good size and an elite-level skillset, which includes nimble skating and deft puckhandling. All-in-all, a dominant center with all of the will, power, and intangibles to become a successful hockey luminary.
The only thing that keeps McDavid from becoming an Oiler is a trade for the ages. Do the Panthers, or anyone else for that matter, have the ammunition to pry the pick out of Edmonton's cold, near-dead hands? Sounds like a pipe dream to me. The only chance the Cats had at number one overall went out the window when they didn't steal the draft lottery. McDavid will enjoy immediate statistical success by teaming with the likes of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. After he gets a season or two under his belt, he should become one of just a handful of players in the NHL capable of breaking the 100-point barrier. I see multiple Art Ross Trophies in his future, but the question is will Edmonton ever be able to assemble a complete team around McDavid, allowing him to contend for a Stanley Cup or will they be content to keep drafting high-scoring forwards?
While your waiting for the Buffalo Sabres pick at two (wonder who it's going be???), check out some video of young Mr. McDavid: