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Oilers prospects excited to play with McDavid

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers prospect Kyle Platzer is looking at the Young Stars Classic tournament as an opportunity of a lifetime.

There is a possibility Platzer, a center, could play on a line with Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

"That would be awesome; who doesn't want to play with the kid? He's awesome," Platzer said following physicals Thursday. "I've never met a more humble kid in my life, it's insane. If I met him on the street, I wouldn't even know he played hockey. It's a real treat and he's fun to hang around."

Platzer, 20, is one of 26 Oilers prospects in Penticton, British Columbia, participating in the four-team rookie tournament held Friday through Monday. The event includes prospects from the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.

McDavid will make his first appearance in an Oilers uniform Friday against the Canucks. He is expected to be in the lineup Saturday against the Flames and Monday against the Jets.

"It'll be fun," McDavid said. "Penticton is part of the process and it's good to finally get it started and I'm looking forward to getting down there."

McDavid (No. 1), defenseman Darnell Nurse (No. 2), and center Leon Draisaitl (No. 3) are Edmonton's three highest-rated prospects at the tournament, according to

McDavid is expected to be part of the Oilers' opening-night roster and Nurse, 20, and Draisaitl, 19, will challenge for a spot in the lineup.

"It's a good lead-up for the season, it gets you into game shape and it's a good lead-up to the season; the fans love it," Platzer said. "Obviously with those three going, we're going to have a good team this year."

The Oilers have not announced the line combinations for the tournament, but every forward taking part could have an opportunity to play with McDavid.

"I hope so; we haven't found out our lines yet, but I think it would be pretty special to play with him," center Greg Chase said. "This year with Connor here, the tournament is kind of amped up times 2. It's pretty special to be a part of it and it's something that one day I'll be able to tell my kids that I got to play with Connor McDavid at Oilers camp, which is a pretty cool experience."

Chase, 20, is participating in his third Young Stars Classic. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native was selected by Edmonton in the seventh round (No. 188) of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Chase met McDavid at Canada's World Junior summer camp in 2014. They also participated in Oilers orientation camp in July.

"He's been a good friend to me in the last couple of months and we've been texting back and forth all summer," Chase said. "I have nothing but good things to say about that guy, he's a world-class hockey player and even a better guy. You don't see that nowadays and it's something special."

Considered the best prospect to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005, McDavid will be the focus at the Young Stars Classic.

"I've never played in this tournament, I really don't know what to expect," McDavid said. "I'm just going to try and be as good as I can be and just be happy with that."

McDavid and Nurse were on opposite sides in the third round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, when McDavid and the Erie Otters defeated Nurse and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in six games.

"It's certainly better to be on his team than against him," McDavid said. "He's one of the hardest players I've ever played against. I'm happy I'm on his team this week and moving forward, obviously, as well."

Nurse is playing in his third Young Stars Classic and hopes to use the experience as a springboard to a strong training camp beginning Sept. 18.

"It should be fun," Nurse said. "Obviously, [Connor's] excited, everyone is excited to see him on the ice, and it'll be fun to play with him. He's a very dangerous player; you don't get to his position being average. He goes out there and works hard and pushes himself, and it's something all the guys feed off and it's going to be fun to play on his team."

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