Connor McDavid is arguably the leading candidate to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2015 NHL draft, and he already has an endorsement from the sport's best player, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby.
Here are Crosby's comments on the young player from the OHL's Erie Otters (via Sportsnet.ca):
"He looks like he’s got it all," Crosby said. "When I watched him play, he reminded me of myself."
McDavid was amazed by the praise from his hero.
"I can't believe Sidney Crosby said that about me," McDavid told the Tribune-Review. "I mean, that's my childhood hero. I'm a Pens fan because of him. I'm totally speechless."
Many NHL fans might not be familiar with McDavid, but they will be soon. He's one of the most talented players in junior hockey and should be a star for Team Canada in tournaments such as the World Junior Championships in the near future.
Let's look at a profile of McDavid and examine the similarities between his game and Crosby's.
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Height/Weight: 5'11", 170
Stats (as of November 6)
|2012-13||Erie Otters (OHL) ||18||8||13||21||16||1|
McDavid's ability to find the right balance between looking for his own scoring and getting his teammates involved is one reason why some people have compared his game to Crosby's.
The Penguins star is one of the few NHL players with the ability to finish a full season with 50 goals and 50 assists, which he accomplished during the last full year of his career in 2009-10 (51 goals and 58 assists). Crosby's teammate, Evgeni Malkin, was the only player to reach the 50-50 mark last season.
Like Crosby, McDavid has his high hockey IQ, which is one reason why his playmaking skills are so extraordinary.
He knows where the next pass needs to go and is able to understand the situation in front of him better and faster than many of his opponents.
His skating and speed are also top-notch, and he has no problem playing a physical game despite his lack of size and strength.
As McDavid gets older, playing more physical and improving his defense will be two goals for him. There's no question that he has the skills needed to be a complete offensive player like Crosby.
The current challenge for McDavid is living up to expectations at the junior level, which can be difficult for young kids who aren't used to being in the national spotlight and/or receiving criticism from the media.
This season, he has shown the level of maturity needed to shine in the OHL and develop into one of the top prospects in his draft class.
The team that holds the top pick in the 2015 draft could certainly have McDavid atop its draft board as a potential No. 1 center and franchise player.
We are a long way from that point, but thus far, McDavid is living up to the hype.