Connor McDavid was in Quebec City on the weekend and while he admitted that playing in the Memorial Cup would have been better, he was more than happy to accept three more awards, adding to his total as the most decorated player in junior hockey history.
McDavid was named CHL player of the year, top draft prospect of the year and scholastic player of the year, marking the second season in a row he has won the educational accolade. The Erie Otters center, who took university-level courses this year, said that English was his favorite subject, more so for the writing aspect than the reading.
Being lauded for his grades meant a lot to the consensus No. 1 pick in this summer's draft, too.
“I’m very proud of that," he said. "It’s something that is very important for me and my family. To be recognized outside the rink, in the classroom, is a true honor.”
So is working in the classroom better than working in practice?
“No, of course not," McDavid said with a grin. "Hockey over everything. The classroom is good, it has its purpose and I enjoyed being there, but there’s nothing quite like being on the ice.”
His work on the ice is why the hockey world is buzzing over the teenager. McDavid is one of the most gifted talents to ever emerge and there is high anticipation over what he will do once the Edmonton Oilers inevitably select him with the first choice in Florida at the end of the month.
Before that happens however, McDavid will be hanging out in Buffalo this week, participating in the NHL draft combine. On top of interviews (and even with a player slated to go first overall, a surprising amount of teams will want to talk to McDavid) and media appearances, McDavid will also go through a gauntlet of physical tests on Saturday morning. His grouping at 10:30 is a high-powered cohort that also includes London's Mitch Marner and Youngstown's Kyle Connor.
Coming into the OHL as a 15-year-old under the "exceptional status" clause (aka The John Tavares Rule), McDavid has been a world-beater and a boon for the Pennsylvania-based Otters, who saw greatly improved attendance during his tenure. Fortunately, the love goes both ways and McDavid is quick to defend the franchise, which was forced to declare bankruptcy recently in order to stave off a lawsuit from – ironically – the Edmonton Oilers.
“Erie deserves a team," McDavid said. "They’re the best fans in the league and they really showed that. It’s so underrated there."
With the amount of hype surrounding McDavid already, you can't call him underrated, but he is a special talent. The draft can't come soon enough for him and next season can't come fast enough for fans in Edmonton.