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Connor McDavid drafted No. 1 by Edmonton Oilers

by Adam Kimelman

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Connor McDavid was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft on Friday.

After a full season of hearing he would be the first pick, McDavid had to wait a few minutes longer than expected to hear his name called at BB&T Arena.

"They had to introduce everyone, and all the teams with the roll call," McDavid said. "Felt like it was going by so slowly. I just wanted to have that pick called."

It turned out to be worth the wait.

"I think it was even better than I expected," McDavid said. "I didn't know how it would feel. I wasn't too nervous; I was just anxious. Just so excited to hear your name called and go through all that."

The wait wasn't because the Oilers were making last-minute decisions.

"We told him we were taking him right from the beginning," Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center is considered to be the best prospect since Sidney Crosby in 2005. McDavid, 18, has been in the spotlight since 2012, when Hockey Canada granted him exceptional-player status to enter the Ontario Hockey League draft as a 15-year-old, one year earlier than usual. He won the OHL Rookie of the Year Award in 2013, then played for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship as a 16-year-old, one of six players to do that and the first since Crosby in 2004.

Edmonton hasn't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006, but McDavid is expected to give the Oilers a huge push forward in their rebuilding.

"My expectations on myself exceed any of those put on me," he said. "It's something I can't really worry about. Just have to worry about making sure I'm playing my game and doing all that. If I'm meeting my expectations, chances are I'll meet yours as well."

Chiarelli also did his part to temper expectations, saying he did not expect McDavid to be an impact player next season. 

"When we had him in Edmonton and I talked to him 1-on-1, some of the things we talked about was the heavy battling as a centerman and the heavy down-low battling and the faceoffs. The strength stuff. He's strong but it's different when you're playing against NHL players. There's going to be battles he loses and there's going to be mistakes he makes. I've been asked if he's going to be an impact player next season and I would say no."

McDavid said the first step in getting stronger is getting back to his offseason training.

"You've got to get a lot bigger and stronger and faster, all that," he said. "You're playing against men now. It's a big jump. It's a big summer ahead of me for sure."

McDavid this season tied for fourth in the Ontario Hockey League with 44 goals and was third with 120 points in 47 games; he was nine points behind the league leader, Erie Otters teammate Dylan Strome, playing 21 fewer games. McDavid was named the OHL Most Outstanding Player and Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year.

He led the OHL playoffs in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49) in 19 games.

"He's a craftsman with the puck," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "His hockey sense, with his vision, his anticipation, his sense of timing and the ability to do those things at a top-end speed, you're looking at the best skilled player in the draft."

McDavid helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. His 11 points in seven games tied for the tournament lead, and he was named to the tournament all-star team.

The addition of a franchise center is the latest change for the Oilers.

Since finishing 28th in the NHL standings this season, Bob Nicholson was promoted to chief executive officer, Chiarelli replaced Craig MacTavish as GM, and Todd McLellan was hired as coach to replace Todd Nelson.

"It's exciting," McDavid said. "It's a great change, and Mr. McLellan and Mr. Chiarelli are great hockey minds. Mr. Nicholson coming in has done a great job. It's an exciting time to be an Oiler. Fans are excited and they should be."


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