TORONTO — Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and the most celebrated player to enter the League since Sidney Crosby in 2005, was among a group of prospects at the NHL Players’ Association Rookie Showcase on Monday.
McDavid spoke with NHL.com about what to expect in his first season with the Edmonton Oilers and the role confidence plays in his game:
NHL.com: What have you learned about the Oilers organization since you were drafted?
McDavid: There’s not much that everyone doesn’t know about the Oilers. I think with their history and everything that has happened to them over the last couple of years has been pretty well documented. There are no real secrets about the Oilers.
NHL.com: Has coach Todd McLellan or any members of his staff talked to you about what your role will be this season and what is expected of you?
McDavid: I have not had that conversation yet. That is getting a little ahead of the game. I haven’t even been to training camp yet. I’m kind of taking it one step at a time. I just want to have a good training camp and prove to the staff and my teammates that I am a player who competes, works hard and does all the right stuff.
NHL.com: What conversations have you had with the Oilers?
McDavid: Nothing too particular, just basic stuff to get me ready for training camp.
NHL.com: What would you need to accomplish this season for you to personally consider it a success?
McDavid: I get that question a lot and it’s something I don’t really know how to answer. I just have to do the best that I can do. There are no real numbers that I have in my mind. I just want to have as good a year as possible.
NHL.com: Is that how you always approach the start of a season or did you previously set goals for yourself?
McDavid: I just want to be the best player I can be. I think when you start putting numbers in your head it can really mess with you. That’s the last thing you want.
NHL.com: Is it more about making the biggest impact possible as opposed to saying, “I’m going to score 50 goals or get 100 points?”
McDavid: Sure, I think that’s a good way to describe it. Numbers are one thing, but some of the best games I have ever played have been games in which I didn’t get a point or maybe had one point. You don’t necessarily have to put up a lot of points to be impactful. There are lots of ways you can impact a game, and that is something I take a lot of pride in, trying to impact the game in any way possible.
NHL.com: What did your summer consist of on the hockey side?
McDavid: I trained with (retired NHL player) Gary Roberts. I was with him every morning and skated with him a bunch. He has a very good group of guys and it’s a very good program.
NHL.com: Was there a highlight?
McDavid: Hmmm, I don’t really think so. The summer, for hockey, is more about the off-ice side of it. I had a good summer in terms of getting stronger. I feel as good as ever.
McDavid: I was always a Crosby guy. I was a huge fan of his, not to say I wasn’t an Ovechkin fan, too, because I was as well. They are a couple of players that you almost have to like. They are the face of the NHL and have been for the past 10 years. They are a couple of guys to look up to, for sure.
NHL.com: Is it hard for you to grasp the fact that you and Jack Eichel are starting a journey similar to what Crosby and Ovechkin began 10 years ago?
McDavid: We have been linked together for a while now, for a couple of years leading up to the NHL Draft. Obviously with the NHL Draft going on, that kind of brought us together even more. That’s good. I think it naturally happens in sports. People are linked together all the time. Obviously he’s a very good player and there are certainly worse people I could be linked to. It’s a good thing.
NHL.com: Do you have a relationship with Eichel or are you just two hockey players coming up at the same time?
McDavid: Yeah, we have a little bit of a relationship. Nothing crazy, just knowing each other through doing a few things together before the draft. We went to Chicago together and then to the combine and the draft itself. We know each other a little bit. He’s a good guy.
NHL.com: Auston Matthews, a potential No. 1 pick in 2016, has made the decision to play this season in Switzerland. Was playing in Europe before you were drafted ever on your radar?
McDavid: No, it wasn’t. It was something I never considered. I was happy playing in Erie. I think the OHL is a great development league and it was as pro-like as it can get. Over in Europe it is a bit of a different game because of the bigger ice. You are still playing against men, but it’s a little bit of a different game so there would be that adjustment. It was something I was never really comfortable with. I wanted to stay in Erie and I was happy there. It was the best couple of years of my life.
NHL.com: You know a majority of the players who are at the showcase today. Is there one player here who you think will step in and make an immediate impact?
McDavid: I think there are a whole bunch. There is a great crop of guys here. I would think a kid like Robby Fabbri or a Dylan Strome could do it. Those are the guys I know the best. I think Dylan could play in Arizona and be a really good player, same with Robby in St. Louis.
NHL.com: How confident are you in your ability to compete in the League right now?
McDavid: I’m as confident as I can be having never played a game in the NHL. I don’t really know what it’s like. I am confident in my ability and at the same time you don’t know what you don’t know. I have never played in an NHL game even though I have a fair bit of experience playing against guys of that caliber. You have at least the smallest idea of what it will be like.
NHL.com: What role does confidence play in terms of you being the best player you can be?
McDavid: It is very important. Confidence in any sport is so important. I think there is a fine line between being confident and being cocky, and it is important that you always know where that line is and you stay on the confident side. Once you get too ahead of yourself, then things can start to go a little bit different. Confidence is important, but there is obviously a max to it and you can’t go over the line.
NHL.com: What has been the biggest change in your life from a year ago?
McDavid: It has been crazy … a crazy year. I don’t feel very different. I don’t view things too differently. I guess the biggest difference is more people know who I am. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you have to be able to manage it. It can be a dangerous place and there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
NHL.com: There has been a huge buildup about your arrival in Edmonton. How do you anticipate handling the hype while trying to stay focused on your game?
McDavid: I have been through it for a while, and obviously this being the NHL it will be on a bigger scale. But I’m still the same guy I was before. I am confident in my ability and I don’t think it will be a problem.
Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid skates during
the Billy Moores Cup on July 6 at Rexall Place.
Photo: Andy Devlin/NHLI (Click to enlarge)
NHL.com: Before knowing you were going to the Oilers, how did you view their development and talent?
McDavid: The first thing you think about when you hear about the Oilers is they are young and skilled. I think that is a fair assessment. They have a lot of very good players. They also have a lot of veterans who have played in the League for many years. They have all the right pieces, and having made some changes in the summer, I think they have a great team.
NHL.com: People have been talking about you playing in the NHL for a long time. Now that you are close to getting on the ice are you happy to be putting the talk behind you for a little action?
McDavid: I’m a hockey player and that’s what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note. My job is to play hockey and not to talk to the media all the time. I’m looking forward to getting on the ice.
NHL.com: Are you nervous about training camp?
McDavid: More anxious to get things going. I have been talking about it for so long and I have been waiting so long to get going, I don’t think nervous is the right word. Just anxious.
Article source: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=777928