Connor McDavid poses on the red carpet during the 2015 Much Music Video Awards in Toronto on Sunday

Connor McDavid poses on the red carpet during the 2015 Much Music Video Awards in Toronto on Sunday

McDavid prepared for milestone moment

A few days removed from a relaxing day on the beach in the South Florida heat, Connor McDavid looks cool and unfazed approaching a milestone moment in his hockey career. On Friday night at the NHL draft, McDavid will put on an Edmonton Oilers sweater for the first time. It’s the realization of a lifelong dream that doesn’t seem too big a moment for the 18-year-old who’s considered a generational talent.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A few days removed from a relaxing day on the beach in the South Florida heat, Connor McDavid looks cool and unfazed approaching a milestone moment in his hockey career.

On Friday night at the NHL draft, McDavid will put on an Edmonton Oilers sweater for the first time. It’s the realization of a lifelong dream that doesn’t seem too big a moment for the 18-year-old who’s considered a generational talent.

“It’s going to be a dream come true hearing your name called and going up on the stage,” McDavid said Thursday. “I can’t really say how I’m going to be feeling. It’s going to be an emotional day and an exciting day and I’m just looking forward to celebrating it with my family and friends.”

McDavid to the Oilers has been a done deal since the lottery balls came up in their favour April 18. General manager Peter Chiarelli with his tongue firmly in his cheek talked about McDavid “if” the Oilers draft him, but with a wink and a nudge acknowledged the inevitable.

“I’m not going to make any proclamations let’s leave it at that,” Chiarelli told reporters in Edmonton this week. “But I think you guys can figure it out.”

McDavid has played along with the charade all along, too, but the Erie Otters centre has also done his due diligence. He and his family visited Edmonton and got a tour of Rexall Place and the new Rogers Arena while meeting with Oilers brass last week.

Naturally, McDavid saw his name written over the “Connor Road” sign in town, and the humble superstar almost blushed at it.

“It’s very flattering,” McDavid said. “If it is Edmonton, I appreciate it very much, the support and the welcoming.”

It’s more when than if, but McDavid doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. He doesn’t mind if others do that, though.

With hockey people comparing McDavid to Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby, it’s almost to the point where the expectations are too big too fast for him. The Newmarket, Ont., native brushes off the comparisons, but he won’t blame anyone for making them.

“It doesn’t matter how I feel about it,” McDavid said. “All I can do is do the best that I can and try and be the best player that I can be. Whether that meets expectations or not, that’s not up to me to decide.

“I’m Connor and that’s just how I play.”

The way McDavid plays is what made him the mortal-lock first-overall pick, ahead of Jack Eichel to the Buffalo Sabres. In what could be the best draft class since 2003, McDavid’s good friend and teammate Dylan Strome, Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin and others will follow.

But the spotlight will be on McDavid Friday night, just as it will be as he embarks on his NHL career. With the expectations set to only rise with time, he’s ready.

“I think if you’re going to be good that’s the way it has to be: You have to have high expectations for yourself,” McDavid said. “But there’s a lot of pressure on me coming from the outside that I try not to put too much internal pressure on myself just because there’s already enough of that out there.”

Chiarelli beamed at the chance to announce McDavid’s name at BB&T Center in Sunrise and then adding him to Edmonton’s young core.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Chiarelli said. “I’ve heard dimensional, generational all that stuff. (in town) He’s a humble kid but he’s driven.”

While McDavid is a given, the Oilers’ draft debate starts with the 16th pick, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in January for David Perron. Chiarelli said he’d “instinctively” like to keep the pick because he believes the team can get a strong prospect, but with holes to fill at the NHL level he’s open to making a trade.

Just Posted

Patrons practice on a putting green as the Whitestone Bridge looms in the distance at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx borough of New York on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Former President Donald Trump has a rich history of fighting back when he’s down and making others pay, and that’s exactly how he intends to deal with New York City over its plans to fire his company from running the city golf course. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dump Trump? Kicking him off NYC golf course may not be easy

Trump Organization has been reeling after the Capitol riots

A photo illustration made December 14, 2012 in Montreal shows a computer in chains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Irish health system says it’s targeted in ransomware attack

Health care systems have been a target before

A woman wearing a mask talks on her phone near an exhibition depicting a rover in Mars in Beijing on Friday, May 14, 2021. China says its Mars probe and accompanying rover are to land on the red planet sometime between early Saturday morning and Wednesday Beijing time. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China Mars rover to land between Saturday and Wednesday

Only the United States has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee as Israeli artillery pounds northern Gaza

Israel called up 9,000 reservists as fighting intensifies

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Team Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan talks with players before the start of the of the Rivalry Series at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 3, 2020. Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., has been named head coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Troy Ryan to coach Canadian women’s hockey team in 2022 Winter Olympics

Ryan was Canada’s assistant coach from 2016 to 2019

FILE- In this April 19, 2021, file photo, people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait to test for COVID-19 at a hospital in Hyderabad, India. Misinformation about the coronavirus is surging in India as the death toll from COVID-19 rises. Fueled by anguish, distrust and political polarization, the claims are further compounding India’s crisis. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)
Misinformation surges amid India’s COVID-19 calamity

Distrust of Western vaccines and health care also driving misinformation

FILE - In this Friday March 6, 2020, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry visits the Silverstone Circuit, in Towcester, England. In an episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast broadcast Thursday, May 13, 2021, Prince Harry compared his royal experience to being on “The Truman Show” and “living in a zoo.” (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Prince Harry thought about quitting royal life in his 20s

Feared his family would have to deal with the same spotlight that was on his late mother

Opinion
Mental health: Gossiping, backbiting and forming factions is unhealthy

We all know of dysfunctional organizations, which can be as troublesome as… Continue reading

Family practice physician Christina Tuomi, D.O., (right) gets Homer's first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Emergency Department nurse Steve Hughes (left) on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Tuomi has been the hospital's medical lead throughout the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
Alberta physicians: Vaccines are our path forward

As the AMA representatives for Alberta’s family physicians, we were immensely relieved… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

Most Read