February 03, 2015

The consensus that Connor McDavid represented the NHL's best prospect since Sidney Crosby came long before the Edmonton Oilers chose him with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft.

Unfortunately, the 18-year-old will have to wait to build upon his fantastic first month as a pro.

McDavid's long-term injury will prevent him from sharing an NHL ice surface with Crosby for the first time when the Oilers host the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

The comparisons to Crosby could've gotten the best of McDavid - even Wayne Gretzky went so far as to say he was the best player to enter the league since Penguins legend Mario Lemieux 30 years ago - but he scored five goals and added seven assists in his first 12 games to win NHL rookie of the month honors for October.

In the second period of his 13th, though, McDavid crashed hard into the boards and suffered a broken left collarbone before Edmonton (5-8-0) fell 4-2 to Philadelphia on Tuesday.

McDavid had surgery Wednesday and will be out for at least a couple months.

It's another devastating injury for the young Oilers, who already have been playing without forward Jordan Eberle (shoulder) and defenseman Justin Schultz (back). Eberle has been practicing this week and could make his season debut against the Penguins (8-4-0).

''The silver lining is that he's young, he's a strong kid mentally and physically, he's still developing so he'll come back probably even stronger,'' general manager Peter Chiarelli said. ''In my experience with these significant injuries with younger players, they come back stronger.''

Crosby knows a bit about having to live up to expectations. He had 102 points as an 18-year-old and won his first Art Ross and Hart Trophy before he turned 20.

McDavid is expected to have a successful career ahead of him much like Crosby, who took note of McDavid's strong start.

"You could tell he was really starting to get comfortable and feeling good out there, so it's definitely unfortunate, just kind of a fluky thing," Crosby told the NHL's official website. "Hopefully he can recover soon and get back out there."

His main focus, though, is helping Pittsburgh pick up a sixth straight victory while developing some of his own consistency. Crosby had been held without a point in nine of his first 11 before scoring just his second goal in Wednesday's 3-2 win at Vancouver.

Crosby's six points are the fewest of his career through his first 12 games.

"You've got to find a way to ultimately figure it out and produce," Crosby said. ''I think my own expectations are the ones I try to meet and those are probably higher than anyone else's. I expect a lot of myself and I work hard to try and make sure I'm doing my job and creating things and producing.''

The Penguins haven't needed much offense with Marc-Andre Fleury playing so well in net. He has a 1.74 goals-against average on the season and has stopped 110 of 114 shots while winning his last four starts.

Fleury has won seven straight against the Oilers with a 2.15 GAA, including a 6-4 victory in the last meeting March 12 as Crosby finished with a goal and two assists.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two assists in that contest for Edmonton. He enters this matchup with three goals and six assists during a six-game point streak after scoring twice Tuesday.

Cam Talbot got the night off against the Flyers and could be back in net. He's 1-3-0 with a 3.79 GAA in his last four starts and has never faced the Penguins.

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