#1 Connor McDavid C – Edmonton Oilers
It’s a coincidence that I will resume my hockey blogging exactly where I left off two years ago, the top 10 calder candidates for the upcoming NHL season.
I usually start with #10 and work all the way back to the #1 candidate for the Calder, but because the answer for this year is perhaps the easiest in close to a decade, as generational talent Connor McDavid is the clear choice for winning this award, so I should just start with him.
Touted by the hockey greats – Gretzky and Lemieux, as the best hockey prospect in the last 20 years, McDavid has speed, skills, work-ethic and exceptional hockey-IQ. Even superstars of his generation like Crosby and Stamkos acknowledges his supreme talent.
When answering questions from reporters, Connor is always humble and soft-spoken. Drafted 1st overall in the latest NHL entry draft by the Edmonton Oilers, he is practically the surest bet to make the Oilers opening roster less than a month from now. However, you won’t hear him taking anything for granted, at least not towards any reporters.
When you hear perennial Rocket Richard Award winner Steven Stamkos says McDavid – a teenager who’s never played a single game of professional hockey, is better than him right now, you know Connor is a special prospect. But his answer says so much more about his maturity.
Similar to his facial expression when drafted 1st overall by the Oilers, McDavid didn’t crack a smile after hearing Stamkos’ compliment. Some might take this the wrong way, just as many questioned his enthusiasm on joining Edmonton’s squad. Any other 18-year old would be flattered and feel pretty good about a huge compliment like that, but Connor simply said he doesn’t agree with that comment, but takes this as a huge compliment.
That’s maturity. Nothing seem to rattle McDavid, and he seems genuinely humble and down to earth, something you wouldn’t expect from a generational talent like him.
So does that mean my job is done here, just give him the Calder Award already, right?
Of course not. Despite the odds of him becoming Rookie of the Year, there are just too many uncertainties with the Oilers. For a team that won three consecutive first-overall picks to continue be a bottom feeder, year-in and year-out, does one more really make that much of a difference, even if he is McDavid?
With new management and coaches, the Oilers is a different club. Yet, at the same time, too many changes can be a bad thing. With so much young talent on the team, where exactly will McDavid fit?
If history has taught the Oilers anything, it’s that they shouldn’t rush their prospects, will this be the year they send their 1st overall pick back to junior? Is that even possible without causing a riot?
There are many questions, but if McDavid can stay healthy and stick with the big club, any betting man would surely bet on him winning the Calder.
As a generational player, Connor deserves a blog to himself, so I will continue the countdown starting from #10 to #2 next week.