TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Dallas Stars prospect Remi Elie believes riding shotgun with Connor McDavid for half the year with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League last season provided him with plenty of motivation on the road to success.
"Everything [McDavid] did was unbelievable; his ability to slow down the game was remarkable," Elie said. "I had to be ready all the time because he hit you with passes when you didn't even know they were coming."
McDavid, of course, was selected No. 1 by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Chosen in the second round (No. 40) by the Stars in the 2013 draft, Elie proved to be a pretty valuable asset for McDavid during a season when the latter attracted all the attention. Detroit Red Wings prospect Nick Betz, who also played on a line with McDavid last season, felt Elie was probably the hardest-working player on the team.
"He brought it every night and every practice," Betz said. "He was always working hard and I think he's the power forward type. He'll run right through you but can make a nice move, take the puck to the net or play so well on the penalty kill. He's an all-around, hard-working player."
Elie is playing on the Stars' top line. Betz, an undrafted free agent invitee, is on a bottom-six role for the Red Wings this week during the Traverse City Prospects Tournament at Centre Ice Arena. Elie finished with a plus-2 rating and generated two shots on goal in a 4-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks prospects Friday.
Elie (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) had 16 goals and 42 points in 28 games after the Otters acquired him in a trade with the Belleville Bulls on Jan. 5, 2015.
At the time of the trade, Otters management felt at the time that Elie's power game would complement McDavid's speed and skill game. Elie had points in all but four games for the Otters, including 12 multiple-point efforts. He finished second on the Otters in playoff scoring with 24 points (four goals, 20 assists) in 20 games as they advanced to the OHL championship series before losing to the Oshawa Generals.
"Remi's game has come along leaps and bounds from his draft year," Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell said. "I was [head scout] in Detroit when the Stars drafted him and they had him ranked higher than we had, but as it turns out it looks like they made a pretty good decision.
"Elie had very good chemistry with McDavid; he just seemed to know where to go on the ice and McDavid knew where to put the puck."
Elie was voted the hardest worker in the OHL Western Conference by the league's coaches and was a top penalty killer.
"He's not a really overly physical player, but for the most part a well-rounded player who just doesn't play one way," McDonnell said.
Elie, 20, will likely join the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League this season after spending the previous three seasons in the OHL with the London Knights, Belleville and Erie.
"I just want to show my skills and speed and prove what I can do in the offensive zone; that I'm an all-around player," Elie said. "I'm a power-forward and I like to use my shot."
Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal likes the passion and persistence that Elie exhibits.
"He's a heavy player; he's got a great set of hands and great speed," Laxdal said. "Most guys who saw him in Erie, saw him gain that confidence as the season moved on. This year you'll see him gain confidence again and just grow with that experience."
Betz (6-foot-4, 220), who had 22 goals and 54 points in 60 games for the Otters last season, will also look to impress at Detroit's main camp beginning next week. If he doesn't stick with the Red Wings, the 20-year-old will likely spend another year in Erie.