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McDavid scores in Oilers debut at Young Stars

by Aaron Vickers

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Connor McDavid made his first game for the Edmonton Oilers a memorable one.

McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had a goal and an assist to help Edmonton to an 8-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at the Young Stars Classic prospects tournament on Friday.

"It was all right," said McDavid, who had three shots and was plus-1. "I mean, I could've played better personally, but the team did a great job and we played a very good game for what was the first game of the year for a lot of guys, including myself. It's the first game all year."

McDavid garnered a better review from Gerry Fleming, coach of the Bakersfield Condors and for the Oilers in the tournament.

"He did a lot of good things," Fleming said. "I know everybody thinks about his play with the puck and how dynamic his speed is, but if you really focus on his game without the puck, he's pretty sound. He's strong positionally. He does a lot of good things away from the puck, not only with the puck."

Working on the power play, McDavid had an assist on Darnell Nurse's seeing-eye point shot that put Edmonton up 4-0 with 48.8 seconds remaining in the second period.

McDavid's first goal with the Oilers came at 7:29 of the third period. Taking a pass from Mitchell Moroz, McDavid fluttered a shot that hit a stick in front before beating Vancouver goalie Clay Witt to give Edmonton a 7-2 lead.

"I can't even remember the play really," Moroz said. "We had so many chances going through the entire game. It was a lot of fun. We had instant chemistry, the three of us. We continued to build momentum. It was fun."

McDavid was welcomed on his second shift with a hard check from Canucks prospect and former Canada World Junior teammate Jake Virtanen.

"I saw him at the last second and wanted to get a good hit on him," Virtanen said.

McDavid went into the boards and onto the ice, one of several hard hits he took.

"It's part of the game," he said. "It's fine. It's a hockey game. That stuff's going to happen."

The Oilers responded with physical play, hoping to send a message that though a marked man, McDavid will be protected.

"I lined [Virtanen] up the next time we were on the ice," Moroz said. "I know he's not going to fight me, but I have to let him know he can't be doing that. It is what it is. They were pretty smart for the most part. They know who he is and they can't be taking liberties and stuff like that. It wasn't too bad, but that shot early kind of set the tone."

Targeting is something McDavid will have to adjust to, Fleming said.

"I think he's going to have to get used to that," he said. "It's his first pro game. I'm sure that's not going to be the first time that happens and I'm sure it's not the first time it's happened to him in the past. He's a good player and there's going to be guys that are going to come at him hard and that's the way it's going to be. He has to get used to it if he's not already used to it.

"It's not the first time, nor will it be the last."

The Oilers play the Calgary Flames on Saturday, but McDavid's participation has yet to be determined.

"We'll see," Fleming said. "We'll sit down with the management here and we'll talk about it and go from there."

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