McDavid feels strong as 1st Oilers training camp looms
TORONTO (AP) As Connor McDavid was going through his draft year, agent and Hall of Famer Bobby Orr knew his client had to get stronger to play at the NHL level.
After a summer of training, McDavid feels as if he has done that, and now he's ready to showcase his skills at the Edmonton Oilers' training camp later this month.
''I feel as good as ever and as strong as ever,'' McDavid said Tuesday at the NHL Players' Association rookie showcase.
McDavid took the ice with 38 fellow prospects at Mattamy Athletic Centre at the old Maple Leaf Gardens as he continued his journey toward his first NHL season. He'll soon have a rookie card, be at rookie camp and then the games can begin.
As long as he's healthy, McDavid should make his NHL debut Oct. 8 at the St. Louis Blues.
But the 18-year-old said he isn't thinking far enough ahead to worry about the home opener, or his first game against the likes of highly touted Sabres rookie Jack Eichel or Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.
''My main focus is getting there for training camp and have a good training camp,'' McDavid said. ''I'll worry about that stuff as it comes up. Just trying to take it one step at a time and right now it's training camp.''
McDavid's first step is rookie camp as the Oilers will face the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets at a tournament in Penticton, British Columbia on Sept. 11-14. McDavid already stood out at Edmonton's summer development camp, and the rookie tournament is just another showcase.
The Oilers' full camp will be McDavid's first real test, skating alongside Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and the rest of the Oilers' young core. It'll be the first camp for new coach Todd McLellan, and McDavid has set his goal as making an impression on the staff.
''Hopefully my future teammates (see) the kind of person, the kind of player I am, (that) I'm willing to compete and I work hard,'' he said.
McDavid has talked to Orr and others and knows very well that the biggest adjustment from the Ontario Hockey League to the NHL is the size and speed.
The expectations remain high for the first overall pick who has drawn comparisons to Crosby. But McDavid isn't ready to project how many points he'd need to put up to have a successful rookie season.
''It's not a numbers game for me,'' McDavid said. ''I think it's just doing the best that you can, playing the best you can do and contributing to the team and trying to help the team win games. I think a winning Oiler season would be a great success.''
The Oilers haven't made the playoffs since going to the Stanley Cup final in 2006.