Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

LITKE: Hockey Preps For Next Star

At just 17 years, Connor McDavid is already being tabbed for greatness. Touted as the best National Hockey League prospect since Sidney Crosby, “The Next One,” as he is becoming known, will likely be selected first overall during the 2015 NHL Draft.

McDavid has grown accustomed to these lofty expectations, having garnered international attention for many years now. He first turned heads at the age of 13 when he impressed NHL legend Bobby Orr at a hockey camp.

In 2012, the 15-year-old McDavid was granted exceptional player status to play in the Ontario Hockey League a year before he was eligible. The OHL is one of Canada’s premier junior leagues and has been a breeding ground for NHL stars. McDavid was only the third player in OHL history to earn this exception.

McDavid dominated the OHL immediately. He scored 66 points in 63 games playing for the Erie Otters en route to being named OHL rookie of the year. Since his impressive rookie campaign, McDavid has not slowed down. He has scored 190 points in 128 career games, including 25 points in just nine games this season.

McDavid’s performance in the OHL has NHL scouts and fans eagerly anticipating the 2015 Draft Lottery, or what many are referring to as the “Connor McDavid Sweepstakes.” The lottery will give the NHL team with the lowest amount of points from the regular season the greatest chance of winning. As a result, there have been concerns about teams losing on purpose, or “tanking” in order to increase their chances of drafting the precocious center.

The Buffalo Sabres had the worst record in the league last year by a significant margin and to the delight of many Sabres fans, most expect a similar performance this year. With a mostly unchanged roster and the 26th lowest payroll in the 30-team NHL, the Sabres look like strong contenders in the sweepstakes, if not on the ice.

Sadly for Buffalo and other teams in contention for the worst spot in the league like the Winnipeg Jets, the NHL recently announced revised odds for the lottery. Prior to the 2015 Draft Lottery, the team with the lowest amount of points had a 25 percent chance of scoring the first overall pick. For the 2015 edition, those odds will drop to 20 percent. Similarly, the second-worst team will see its odds drop from 18.8 percent to 13.5 percent. Teams five through 14 in the lottery will see their odds marginally raised.

The NHL claims the adjustment was made “to more appropriately reflect the current state of competitive balance in the league.”

However, the timing would suggest there are legitimate concerns about teams deliberately losing for McDavid, another sign of just how talented the teenager is.

Yet hope is not lost for teams who lose out on McDavid. The second-ranked prospect, Jack Eichel, is also expected to be a star at the highest level of professional hockey. Eichel is considered to be the best American prospect since Mike Modano, who holds the all-time lead in goals and points for an American player.

Eichel is also 17 and just began his freshman year at Boston University. After one game he leads the team with four points.

The hype surrounding McDavid is akin to the high expectations Crosby faced entering the NHL. Also known as “The Next One,” Crosby faced relentless media attention from a young age, and is now regarded as arguably the best hockey player in the world.

Like Crosby, who was amid attention and pressure, McDavid has not faltered. He has put up remarkable numbers in junior hockey leagues and has improved every year. It remains to be seen if McDavid can bring his dominance to the NHL but all signs suggest that he will.

No matter where he is drafted, Connor McDavid is poised to make an immediate impact on the NHL. At 6 feet 1 inch and 190 pounds, he has an NHL-ready build to go along with his exceptional speed, skill and intelligence. “The Next One” is ready to take the next step.

Daniel Litke is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. Capitals Hill appears every Friday.

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