If you have been watching TSN, Sportsnet, CBC Hockey Night in Canada, or reading any sports pages lately, you likely have seen or heard the name Connor McDavid a lot.
McDavid is seeking “exceptional player” status under Hockey Canada rules. This will allow him to be drafted as an underage 15 year old, be drafted by an OHL team, and play in the OHL this September, 2012. The big debate is – can the 15 year old player compete with players, some of whom are up to 5 years older.
Connor has been playing against older players his whole hockey life. I remember when he was playing in the Gonzaga High School Tournament against St. Michael’s College in the finals. They were primarily top 94 born players, 3 years older than Connor. In fact, a few months later in the OHL draft there were many who were top picks, including some in the first round, from that St. Michael’s team.
Connor was understandably a little concerned about the size of some of the opposing players. The strategies he often used were chipping pucks behind them, cycling, and setting up his teammates. I believe Connor finished with the most points of any player–and he was 3 years younger! Connor also played in the all-Ontario Peewee finals a few years ago and he was playing as an under ager, one year younger than everyone else. He still had triple the number of points of any other player.
I started training Connor using Power Edge Pro at age 11. Even then he was playing with players a year older. He was certainly not like most other kids I have coached or trained. Connor would be training a variety of Power Edge Pro patterns and would always push himself to execute at full speed, just like in a game. He always wanted to get better; even as an 11 year old.
A very dedicated player, Connor reminds me of Ryan O’Reilly in terms of dedication. Ryan would be at the rink before everyone. He would have his ear plugs in, stretching and getting mentally prepared before the game. The biggest part of his game is his hockey sense. Connor also has exceptional ability to play in small areas in traffic and create space for himself. Connor is a very unselfish player, he moves the puck first, and has incredible vision on the ice. Unlike a lot of young players that are this dynamic, Connor also plays both ways. He can score the big goal at key times and back check to prevent a goal in his own zone.
There should be no issue that Connor can compete in the OHL as a 15 year old against 19 and 20 year olds. He is smart enough to know when to move the puck and skilled enough to avoid contact in the dangerous areas utilizing his exceptional evasive skating abilities and his vision.