Connor McDavid is projected to be the top pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, but that didn’t stop a team in the Kontinental Hockey League from selecting him Thursday.
The Erie Otters star was taken 77th overall by Croatian club Medvescak Zagreb in the annual KHL Junior Draft.
Despite being chosen by Medvescak, this will not affect McDavid’s status in the 2015 NHL Draft. However, if the Newmarket, Ont., native does make the unlikely decision to play in the KHL, Zagreb now holds his rights. McDavid has one year remaining in junior before he is eligible to be drafted into the NHL.
This isn’t the first time a projected first-overall NHL pick was drafted by a KHL team. In fact, it happens virtually every year. In 2009, Ak Bars Kazan took Taylor Hall 89th overall. In 2012, Vityaz Podolsk took eventual Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon with the 114th pick. Last year, Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad — projected to be one of the top picks in the 2014 NHL Draft — was selected by Podolsk 171st overall.
McDavid was the recipient of the 2014 William Hanley Trophy given to the Ontario Hockey League’s most sportsmanlike player. The 17-year-old ranked fourth in OHL scoring this season, with 99 points in 56 games.
Russian Kirill Kaprizov was selected first overall by Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL draft.