As a pending first-overall pick with the fate of a franchise on his shoulders, not many players in the NHL know what Connor McDavid is going through, or the pressures he’ll soon face.
Sidney Crosby would, however, and that’s why Todd McLellan sought the advice of the Pittsburgh Penguins captain prior to signing on the dotted line to become the new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
Even though the organization won’t officially say they’re selecting McDavid with the No. 1 pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, it’s a foregone conclusion the Erie Otters star will wear an Oilers uniform next season.
McLellan, who coached a Crosby-led Team Canada to a gold medal at the worlds, wanted to pick No. 87’s brain because Crosby and McDavid have so much in common.
“Having success [at the world championships in Czech Republic] we created a trust level where I could go and ask [Crosby] those type of questions,” McLellan told Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Tuesday.
“He spent a fair amount of time with me revealing what he had gone through as an individual coming into the National Hockey League after having a tremendous junior career and really being ‘The Next One’ if you will. It’s not an easy thing. Of course they’re both great athletes. They’re the best at what they do and it’s exciting for them, but there’s a lot of hardships for them – adjusting to the fame, adjusting to the stress of dealing with media and everyday people.”
McDavid has been in the spotlight his entire junior career, he is mature beyond his years and by all indications he is ready to make an impact in the NHL on and off the ice — something Crosby has thrived at.
“Sidney Crosby, I just watched him for two weeks in Europe, and very seldom did he ever turn anybody down as far as autographs go. He was polite. He was a true gentleman, a great ambassador for our game,” McLellan said. “Connor’s going to have to experience that as a very young man in a Canadian market, so I think our organization here in Edmonton can help him. Not only on the ice surface but away from the rink as far as media goes and living conditions, just so that he’s comfortable and he’s brought up the right way.”
In addition to the support he’ll receive from McLellan, McDavid will also have previous first-overall picks Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov to lean on for advice.
McDavid will first don an Oilers jersey at the NHL draft, which takes place June 26 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.