There are a number of NHL general managers who already are looking ahead to the 2015 NHL Draft. One look at Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid shows why.
The 17-year-old McDavid showcased the kind of skill that has NHL teams so excited Wednesday in an 11-2 win against the Plymouth Whalers.
He got the puck at the Erie blue line midway through the second period and turned on the speed as he drove through the neutral zone. Plymouth defenseman Alexander Peters, No. 36 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft, attempted to stand up McDavid at the Whalers' blue line; instead, that's when McDavid turned a strong play into a dazzling one.
While in full flight, he pushed the puck under Peters' stick as the defenseman attempted to poke it away from McDavid, and then got it back. As the 6-foot-3.25, 207-pound Peters reached to push McDavid off the puck, McDavid slipped it between Peters' skates and then stepped around him. With Peters grasping at air, McDavid regained control of the puck between the circles with nothing between him and goaltender Zack Bowman.
McDavid deked forehand to backhand to forehand. Bowman made a futile attempt to poke the puck away, but McDavid easily pulled it around the goaltender and jammed it through an open space between Bowman's right leg and the post.
The goal was McDavid's 22nd of the season; he also had three assists in Erie's win. McDavid has 86 points in 51 games, tying him for sixth in the Ontario Hockey League scoring race. However, his 51 games are nine fewer than all but one other player in the top 20 in OHL scoring.
McDavid also had one goal and three assists playing for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. He was the sixth 16-year-old to play for Canada at the WJC, joining Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros, Jay Bouwmeester, Jason Spezza and Sidney Crosby.