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Erie's McDavid named CHL Player of the Year

by Adam Kimelman

Connor McDavid, who is projected to be the top pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, was named the Canadian Hockey League Sportsnet Player of the Year on Saturday.

It was one of three awards won by McDavid, who plays center for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

He also won the Jack Link's Top Prospect of the Year award and the Subway Scholastic Player of the Year award.

The awards were handed out as part of the 2015 Memorial Cup in Quebec City, Quebec.

McDavid was third in the OHL with 120 points and tied for fourth with 44 goals in 47 regular-season games. He had nine fewer points than League-leader and Erie teammate Dylan Strome despite playing 21 fewer games.

He had points in 45 of 47 games, 36 multi-point games and a streak of 27 games with at least a point, the longest in the OHL since the 2007-08 season. He also helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship; he was tied for the tournament lead with 11 points and was named to the tournament all-star team.

"It's a true honor," McDavid said in a video on the Memorial Cup website. "You look at all the great names across the country to play in the CHL. To be recognized as the player of the year is so amazing; something you kind of dream of. Winning the Red Tilson [Trophy as best player in OHL] is nice. To go one step further, be recognized across the country, is so special."

The other nominees for Player of the Year were Oliver Bjorkstrand (Columbus Blue Jackets) of the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, and Conor Garland of the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Garland is No. 86 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2015 draft.

McDavid beat out forward Timo Meier of the Halifax Mooseheads of QMJHL and defenseman Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL for the Top Prospect award.

He said winning that award shows how close the draft finally is. 

"I'm really looking forward to the [2015 Scouting] Combine next week," he said. "And it's the final step toward the NHL draft. Been a long year of anticipation, a lot of hard work has gone on this year to try and get ready for that. Being recognized as the top draft prospect is very nice. It's a position you almost dream to be in, to be the highest ranked prospect heading in to the NHL draft."

Meier, No. 10 on Central Scouting's final ranking, was tied for fifth in the QMJHL with 44 goals, and was second on the Mooseheads with 90 points. He also had two goals and six points in six games for Switzerland at the 2015 WJC.

Provorov, No. 7 on Central Scouting's final ranking, led WHL rookies and was fourth among WHL defensemen with 61 points in 60 games. He had one assist and a plus-2 rating in seven games to help Russia win the silver medal at the 2015 WJC.

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McDavid repeated as Scholastic Player of the Year; he had an A average while attending McDowell Secondary School in Erie, Pa. He's the first repeat winner of the award since Jeff Nelson of the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL in 1989 and 1990.

The other finalists were forward Jeremy Gregoire (Montreal Canadiens) of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, and Prince Albert goaltender Nick McBride.

Garland and Strome, No. 4 on Central Scouting's final ranking, shared the Sherwin-Williams Top Scorer award. Strome's 129 points led the OHL and Garland had a QMJHL-high 129 points.

From Scituate, Mass., Garland is the second U.S.-born player to win the award; Buffalo native Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) won the award in 2007 with the London Knights of the OHL.

"That's awesome," Garland said. "My favorite player is on there, Marc Savard is on it [and] Patrick. Pretty special company to be in." 

Other award winners were Erie forward Alexander DeBrincat, BMO Rookie of the Year; Philippe Desrosiers (Dallas Stars) of the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, Vaughn Goalie of the Year; Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, Liftmaster Defenseman of the Year; Rourke Chartier (San Jose Sharks) of the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, CCM Most Sportsmanlike Player; Danick Martel (Philadelphia Flyers) of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL, TVA Sports Humanitarian of the Year; and Sault Ste. Marie coach Sheldon Keefe, MasterCard Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year.


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