EDMONTON — Connor McDavid, the teen phenom forecast to be hockey’s next great superstar, officially hit the ice Wednesday with the Edmonton Oilers.
And the 18-year-old made it clear he’s all in on the Oil Drop.
McDavid underwent medical and fitness tests before hitting the ice along with other prospects for power skating drills on the first day of the Oilers orientation camp.
“The fitness testing wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but (it was) really cool to throw on the Oilers gear, the gear I want to play the rest of my life wearing,” said McDavid.
He said he still doesn’t feel like an Oiler.
“It’s going to take a little while for it to sink in.
“It still feels surreal. It’s hard to picture being part of an NHL organization let alone the Edmonton Oilers, who have such a storied background.”
The man from Newmarket, Ont., joined other recent top Oiler draft picks, including defenceman Darnell Nurse and centre Leon Draisaitl for workouts at Rexall Place.
Draisaitl said McDavid is making a good first impression.
“He seems like a very nice, very humble guy. And obviously everybody knows what he’s capable of on the ice,” said Draisaitl.
“He’s a special guy and I think the whole organization should be very, very excited about him.”
Fans will be allowed in starting Friday to watch the workouts. Large crowds are expected given the euphoria that has gripped Alberta’s capital since McDavid’s name was called by the Oilers as the NHL’s top overall draft pick at last week’s draft.
Trademark McDavid No. 97 Oiler jerseys are hot sellers, and over-exuberant fans even redecorated a road sign to welcome McDavid.
It’s a fan base parched for even moderate success.
The Oilers, once the NHL’s signal franchise, have been mediocre for a decade, with multiple coaching changes, public apologies, and no playoff appearances.
McDavid’s selection is the high profile component of a recent organizational retrofit that includes new general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Todd McLellan.
Chiarelli has been working feverishly in recent days overhauling a roster considered average up front but woefully weak on defence and in goal.
Earlier Wednesday, the Oilers agreed to terms with free agent defenceman Andrej Sekera from the Los Angeles Kings and centre Mark Letestu from Columbus.
Recent trades have also harvested goalie Cam Talbot from the New York Rangers, defenceman Griffin Reinhart from the New York Islanders, defenceman Eric Gryba from the Ottawa Senators, and winger Lauri Korpikoski from Arizona.