TORONTO — Seventeen-year-old Connor McDavid leans against a row of benches in a top-floor room at the Rogers Centre. He is a lean 185 pounds and six feet tall.
He knows this needs to change in order to play in the NHL.
“I’ve got a big summer ahead of me to get bigger, faster, stronger if I want to play in the NHL in the near future,” says McDavid. “But I am certainly looking forward to the ride.”
That ride already started two weeks ago.
After being the youngest player in the OHL when he was 16 years old and joining Canada at the world junior championships, McDavid has had his fair share of pressure even though he would rather not think about it.
“You know with magazines like this,” as he holds up his front cover issue from Sportsnet magazine, “the cover 'Better than Crosby'… I think that didn’t help with the pressure too much, but it’s certainly nice,” he says.
McDavid was named the Ontario Hockey League's Rookie of the Year in the 2012-2013, when he scored 66 points in 63 games for the Erie Otters. The award followed his being granted exceptional player status the year prior, entering the OHL as a 15 year old.
The Newmarket, Ont., native was most concerned about how the guys on the Erie Otters were going to treat him but says, “They became almost like my brothers really fast.”
Adding to the list of pressures, McDavid is predicted to go No. 1 in the 2015 NHL Draft, where he will turn eligible at the ripe age of 18.
In order for McDavid to get bigger, faster and stronger, he will combine workouts at the gym with ones on the ice. He will spend his third summer training with Gary Roberts at the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre in Toronto and will make sure to eat his veggies.
“Monday I lift lower body; Tuesday is cardio day; Wednesday would be upper body; Thursday cardio; Friday would be combination of upper body and lower body, more full-body workout; Saturday is cardio and yoga,” says McDavid.
Tuesdays and Thursdays will also involve power skating and a bit of scrimmaging.
Getting faster can come from the gym, but McDavid says it has a lot to do with power skating and getting his stride down right.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to play your game," he says. "You just got to keep going and do the things that got you to where you are today.”
In pursuing his dream of playing in the NHL, he is focused on getting physically ready and says there is no particular team he hopes to play for.
“There is no jersey that you’re wearing," McDavid says of his dream. "It’s just playing in the NHL, that's all it is.”