Connor McDavid was ready to set the pace at the Oilers informal skate at Royal Glenora Club.
Though he was eager to get the puck moving he left a wake of impressions on his teammates.
“I was with him at the BioSteel Camp in Toronto…so I got first glimpse of him there but skating on a line with him in a scrimmage is incredible,” said Oilers teammate Luke Gazdic.
“I found out right from the first shift that if you give him the puck you better get on your horse cause he’ll be 100 feet ahead of you if you don’t catch up. When you give him that puck you better get open cause there’s a good chance he’s going to find you. Obviously everyone knows he’s special talent but he’s also a special kid and just a nice down to earth kid and that translates onto the ice.”
Through an onslaught of skill-testing drills, McDavid moved effortlessly among his teammates, but his time to shine came when the group divided into scrimmage mode.
“He kind of came as advertised,” said Mark Letestu. “You can see his speed right away. Obviously we’re just playing around out here, we’re not quite ramped up to full game speed. But skill-wise, he comes as advertised, it’s pretty special to watch.”
Now in Edmonton, McDavid has had a chance to get his bearings before ramping up again for training camp, having temporarily moved-in with Gazdic and fellow teammate Taylor Hall, until the start of camp.
“[Gazdic]’s an awesome guy,” said McDavid. “I got to know him a little bit better at BioSteel Camp as well [as Hall], you know, just being with him the past day, he’s taking care of me pretty good, last nights dinner was pretty good. He’s a guy everyone likes, I think.”
Gazdic, who’s been playing in the NHL for three years now, but has been playing professionally since he was 19, understands what it’s like to acquire a professional role at such a young age.
“I’d like to be a calming influence and someone that, when we go back to the house, he can kind of turn that hockey world off and just be a regular kid and talk about anything else other than hockey and getting his mind off of it a little bit, because I know he’s going through a lot of stuff right here going into camp,” said Gazdic.
“He’s only been there a couple nights with me but we cooked a little bit last night and I’m sure he’s liking the experience of being on his own. But he’s just a normal kid that people don’t take into account all the time that he’s 18-years-old, he talks way above his age and a lot more mature than he actually is.”