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McDavid: I'm not in a class by myself

by Mike G. Morreale

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Erie Otters center Connor McDavid admitted there was a bit of a letdown for him after helping Canada celebrate its first gold medal in six years at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto earlier this month.

"It's pretty common to have a little bit of a letdown after world juniors; your game is so ramped up and everything is riding on every single play," McDavid said. "Then you come back to the Ontario Hockey League, where it's still great hockey but not the world juniors, so it's common to have a letdown."

McDavid, who was an alternate captain for Canada, had three goals, 11 points and a plus-8 rating in seven games for his country and was named to's World Junior Championship All-Tournament Team.

"I think I had a little bit of [a letdown] that first week back to Erie but I'm feeling really good now," he said.

McDavid, who leads the OHL with 2.6 points per game, has points in 22 of his 23 games this season. That includes 18 multiple-point performances. He has 21 goals and 60 points for the Otters this season and 74 goals and 225 points in 142 career games spanning three seasons. Since returning to the Otters' lineup after breaking a bone in his right hand on Nov. 11, McDavid has five goals and nine points in five games. He's on an eight-game point streak.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left-shot center is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of the top North American players eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft. He's been compared to Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby and is the odds-on-favorite to be selected No. 1 at the draft on June 26 at BB&T Centre in Sunrise, Fla.

McDavid will serve as captain for Team Bobby Orr at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at the Meridian Centre on Thursday (NHLN-US, Sportsnet, TVA Sports; 7 p.m. ET). It will be yet one more opportunity for him to shine in the media spotlight.

"This game just adds another element that's part of the draft," McDavid said. "I think I heard over 250 scouts will be here so it'll be a good test, game and measuring stick for scouts."

McDavid, who turned 18 on Jan. 13, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer five questions as he prepares for the second half of the season in Erie. It will most likely be his final year playing for the Otters; a lot of people expect him to be a leading candidate for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 2015-16.

Q: Many say you are in a class by yourself. Do you feel that way?

"I don't look at it that way. There are 40 great players here at the Top Prospects game and it's going to be a tough test and a great game. You look at the World Junior Championship and there were so many great players playing there, so I'm not in a class by myself. That's a tremendous compliment, and if NHL scouts are saying that it means the world. But at the end of the day you just have to keep doing what you're doing. There are great prospects out there; people are saying that this draft can be one of the best and there are some really good players that will be drafted this year."

Q: What's the secret to being two-to-three steps ahead of every other player on the ice?

"I just think it's from playing so much hockey when I was younger and trying to develop skills and doing all the things I've experienced growing up. It comes down to knowing what may happen or, actually, more of an educated guess on what might happen. So sometimes I get lucky and sometimes I don't and it costs me."

Q: What is the best advice you've received from a current NHL player?

"John Tavares told me not to read about myself. He told me that in his draft year [2009] that he found it a bit difficult [because of] the pressures that came with being an exceptional player into the Ontario Hockey League. Everyone is excited about you in the beginning but it almost turns into what you can do to keep on impressing people. What can you do to keep up your image? And Mr. Tavares scored 72 goals [in 2006-07] as a 17-year-old. How do you possibly score more than 72 goals in an OHL season? People kind of get bored of you, and I think that was good advice, especially with my going through the draft process right now."

Q: Are you thinking or just reacting when a scoring opportunity presents itself?

"It's more reacting. There's so much that happens in a play and there's so much going on and it happens so fast that you really don't have a lot of time to think. You're doing more stuff based on your instincts and your reaction to the play and so it would be more reacting for me."

Q: Is there a difference between you and Jack Eichel (No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings)?

"I don't know. I watch him and played against him [at the World Junior Championship]. I feel I know my game and he knows his game and whatever the difference is, it really doesn't matter. It's not very big at all. He's a great player. He has so much skill and all the right tools. Whatever difference there is, it's not a lot because he's done an unbelievable job."


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