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McDavid ready to 'get this crazy year started'

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Erie Otters center Connor McDavid got a taste of what it will be like to be a big star.

McDavid joined Otters general manager Sherry Bassin and coach Kris Knoblauch here Thursday for the announcement of an Ontario Hockey League game between Erie and the Niagara Ice Dogs at First Niagara Center on Oct. 22.

That's just one game in a NHL arena, but it's all part of what's to come for the 17-year-old.

"It's going to obviously be pretty different," McDavid said. "It's starting to be pretty crazy. I'm just really excited to be there and get going and get this crazy year started."

Hype won't be anything new to McDavid, who's been dealing with that already and will see it continue all season. Adding to that are the changes the NHL made to the Draft Lottery, giving more teams a better chance at the top pick.

Those alterations could be viewed as flattering to not just him but other prospects, including center Jack Eichel. The thought a team might be satisfied with a bad season to better its chances at drafting him is a bit much for McDavid to handle.

"It's pretty crazy," McDavid said. "I don't think too many teams are throwing seasons. I don't think that's how hockey works. I don't think that's how anyone who plays hockey thinks. Owners, GMs, coaches, players, no one just throws games away. That's not how it works. Maybe it's just a bit of a coincidence, I guess, but we'll see how it goes."

"Crazy" is a word McDavid used a lot, and it's not far from the truth when you consider what's ahead.

Not only will he play for the Otters, but he'll have the World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal, the OHL playoffs, and possibly the Memorial Cup before the NHL Scouting Combine takes place in Buffalo, followed by the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla.

"Right now it's all about getting back with the Erie Otters and having a good training camp, preseason, and a good start to the year," McDavid said. "That's what it's all about, and you've just got to worry about yourself. Then maybe when we get a little closer to the draft and the season's over, I think you start picturing which organization you'll play with. But right now, it's all about having a good year."

McDavid isn't Erie's only top prospect. Forward Dylan Strome, brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, will be his teammate again and is projected to be a top pick in the 2015 draft.

"[Dylan] is just a great kid. He works so hard," McDavid said. "He was over in Europe and he had five goals in five games or something at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He flies home on a Sunday, he's back in the gym on Monday. That's just the kind of guy he is. The way he passes, the way he sees the ice, it's special."

Last season with Erie as a 16/17-year-old, McDavid had 28 goals and 99 points in 56 games, and then 19 points in 14 playoff games.

With numbers like that, he's been compared to Sidney Crosby as being "The Next One." You can add that to the list of reasons there's pressure to perform, but McDavid has shown that age is just a number and his maturity goes beyond that.

"You just can't really think about it," McDavid said. "It's something that's a pretty cool label to have, but by no means what's going to happen.

"I'm still 17 years old. There's so much that can happen between now and next year's draft and five years down the road, 10 years down the road; you have no idea what's going to happen. It's all about working hard and looking at the next day and keep working and not getting too far ahead of yourself."

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