There is certainly no reason to believe the hand injury sustained by Erie Otters center Connor McDavid on Tuesday is career threatening. The fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand will sideline him 5-6 weeks before he can continue his offensive wizardry in the Ontario Hockey League.
But will his absence affect his standing in the 2015 NHL Draft? Before the injury, McDavid was considered the slight favorite in a two-player race to be the top-rated prospect in the draft. Boston University freshman Jack Eichel is the other player in that race. Boston College freshman defenseman Noah Hanafin is on the periphery of that conversation, according to several scouts.
"Injuries are part of the game and we've made it a point, as you recall three years ago when there were so many players out, of adapting here at NHL Central Scouting," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told NHL.com on Wednesday before the Otters announced the prognosis. "We've got a lot of views on Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin, and are very comfortable with ranking them where they are.
"Hopefully in Connor's case, it's nothing serious and he'll be back playing and be able to participate with Erie because they look like they've got a team set for a long run."
McDavid injured his right hand in a fight Tuesday against Mississauga forward Bryson Cianfrone 13:50 into the second period.
Prior to the 2012 NHL Draft there were seven impact players sidelined by injury, but all were drafted over the opening two rounds. The list included Edmonton Oilers forward Nail Yakupov (lower back) and Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk (season-ending knee surgery), Tampa Bay Lightning defense prospect Slater Koekkoek (dislocated shoulder), Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray (high ankle sprain), Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (season-ending knee surgery), Detroit Red Wings right wing prospect Martin Frk (concussion) and Buffalo Sabres defense prospect Jake McCabe (severed tendon in finger).
If the injury does keep McDavid from participating for Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, which begins in late December in Toronto and Montreal, Marr said it won't affect his standing among the Central Scouting scouts.
"Participation with the national team events, whether Canadian or for the United States, are kind of footnotes in the career of the player," Marr said. "Every team and all the scouts place a certain emphasis on it, but it's never the determining factor, so it's part of the process. They'll include that in their overall assessment of the player."
McDavid was a relative shoo-in to represent his country at the 2015 WJC. He had one goal and four points in seven games for Canada at the 2014 WJC; he was the sixth 16-year-old to play for Canada at the WJC, joining Sidney Crosby, Eric Lindros, Jason Spezza, Jay Bouwmeester and Wayne Gretzky.
Canada must submit its roster by Dec. 25 and plays its first game Dec. 26.
"Connor McDavid is not going to be punished if he can't participate [at the WJC] and there would probably be more pressure on Jack [Eichel] to perform [for the United States]," Marr said. "Regardless, every scout I know in the business is expecting these players to continue to show they are the best players available for this year's draft."