I'm sure most people who follow the Ontario Hockey League have familiarized themselves with the name Connor McDavid. The Toronto Marlies forward (GTHL) has had a much talked about season, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, there's been a lot of talk that he may have applied for exceptional status to enter this year's OHL Priority Draft (he's a '97 playing with '96's). Secondly, he plays on an absolutely dominant Marlie team that also includes the much hyped Joshua Ho-Sang (the clear cut favourite for first overall in this year's priority draft should McDavid not enter). Thirdly, he's an absolutely fantastic player who many (including blog friend Sean LaFortune) consider the best player to enter the OHL in quite some time.
PuckLife magazine asked me to write a short piece on McDavid for their upcoming issue. I'll be sure to let you know when that issue comes out (so that you can buy it!), but for now I figured I'd share with you the Q & A I did with Connor to help me write the article.
Brock Otten - How would you describe yourself as a player? What are the biggest strengths that you bring to the ice?
Connor McDavid - I believe that I am a good playmaker, looking to pass before shooting. I am a good skater who is able to do things at high speed. I feel my biggest strength is my hockey IQ. For me the game slows down a bit and allows me to see different things on the ice. I need to work on becoming more of a shooter. Often times give up the shot for the pass and at the next level I need to change that.
BO - How long have you been playing a year up? What has that adjustment always been like? Is it harder for you to be an on ice/off ice leader because you're a year younger?
CM - I have played with the ’96 age group my entire life. I haven't played one game with my own age actually. There has never really been an adjustment because this age group is the one I have grown up playing with. Again, because I have played up my whole life, being a leader has been something I have never had trouble doing because I am born in January 97 and feel that I am a 96 born player. The minute you start to think, "maybe I shouldn't be here", that's when things will change. You have to believe that you can play at that level and believe that you can do well. I have been an assistant captain on my team for 6 of the 8 minor hockey years.
BO - Obviously getting drafted high in your OHL priority draft year is an upcoming goal, but what are you going to have to improve on in order to make a significant impact at the next level?
CM - I am not eligible for the draft until next year. The thing I need to improve on most is my shot. At the next level time and space are hard things to come by so when you get less time and in tight spaces, you have to take the shot. All the great players can score from the outside so if I can bring that aspect to my game, then defenders will need to step up on me and that is where I can use my speed to my advantage. Another part I will need to work on, is my strength. Everyone is so big at the next level so strength training is going to be a big part of this and next summer’s activities.
BO - Everyone seems to always compare you to your teammate Joshua Ho-Sang. Do the constant comparisons get tiresome?
CM - Just to even be compare to Josh Ho- Sang is a honour in itself. He is a tremendous player with some pretty unique skills that I have never seen before. The constant comparison can get tiresome sometimes because at the end of the day we both play the game to have fun. We are very good friends and are fortunate to play on the ’96 Toronto Marlboros. We have a great team. We are all friends and have had a lots of fun playing this year. Josh and I both just love to play the game and we just try to focus on that.
BO - Is there a player in the NHL that you look at and say, "that's the type of player I want to become?"
CM - If there is any player in the NHL that I would like to become, it's Pavel Datysuk. He has amazing offensive skills but is also someone that the coach can put on in the last 30 seconds in a one goal game because he is also very defensive minded. He is the complete 2-way player.
BO - Why the Ontario Hockey League (assuming that's the route you're going)? Have you received interest from NCAA schools and considered that path?
CM - We haven't made any decisions yet and I am trying to keep all my options open. I am lucky to have received some interest from NCAA schools and am considering that as well. They are both very good options, each have their upside and downside. They are both very good choices and am sure either one will be a great experience.