International Ice Hockey Federation

North America’s Best

North America’s Best

McDavid, Eichel look to headline next draft

Published 24.12.2014 17:20 GMT-5 | Author Ryan O'Leary
North America’s Best
Canada’s Connor McDavid (left) and Team USA’s Jack Eichel (right). Photos: Francois Laplante / HHOF-IIHF Images
The World Juniors undoubtedly unite the best young hockey talent from around the world into one of the most exciting tournaments on the yearly hockey calendar.

Current and prospective pros provide a great deal of entertainment during the holiday season and 2015 will be no different.

Two of the most exciting players in the world, USA’s Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, MA – Boston University) and Canada’s Connor McDavid (Newmarket, ONT – Erie Otters) possess the type of skill that brings fans out of their seats.

We sat down with the two biggest 2015 NHL prospects and asked each about the pressures they face in their draft year. Hear first-hand from the two future stars.

First hockey memory...

Jack Eichel: I first started skating around 18 months - just pushing a crate around the ice. I started playing organized hockey when I was three or four. I was pretty young, but I played a lot when I was that age and it’s been that way ever since.

Connor McDavid: I started playing hockey when I was probably around two or three, when I would put on my skates and go skate with my dad and brother, and then I was hooked. You’re only allowed to start playing when you’re five. And they did a little bit of lying on my birth certificate to say I was five, when I was actually only four.

On representing the U.S. and Canada at the 2015 World Juniors...

JE: Coming from the USNTP I got that chance to represent my country every day, and that is a privilege in itself. I’d be excited to represent the U.S. again. USA Hockey has been really successful over the years in the U18 World Championship. I think that they are just producing a lot of great hockey players these days and are definitely on the rise.

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CM: I am very excited about the possibility of playing for Canada at this year’s tournament, especially because it’s being played in Montreal and Toronto, which are two great hockey cities. The chance to win a gold medal for our country on home ice is something we all dream of as young players.

Playing against older players their entire career...

JE: Sometimes it’s hard mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet, it ends up making you better in the long run. I have always thought that playing against older players had a big effect on who I am, and where I am right now.

CM: There was a time when I’d say I probably shouldn’t play up with the older kids anymore, because I wasn’t physically ready or capable of it, but then I had a big growth spurt and put on a couple pounds, and really started to fill out, and I got comfortable playing with that group of kids again. It gave me a great advantage.

Realizing this could be more than a childhood hobby...

JE: A lot of it has to do with building confidence. During my first year of junior I didn’t have a lot of confidence. It took me a few months to score my first goal and as soon as I did that I started to build confidence against better players, which really started to help me. I scored a goal in the National Championship semi-final game in OT to send us to the National Championship, which was a big highlight for me as I was 14 playing in an under-20 league. That was a big goal and I can definitely pinpoint that moment.

CM: I realized that I could play with these older kids probably right from novice. Going to the playoffs we were playing a Markham team, and I had a really good playoff, couple four-goal games and things like that, so it was just like okay, well I can really play with these guys. And then the peewee year, I played with Sam Bennett, and this other guy Connor Whiteside, and we had an unbelievable year. I think combined we had, honestly I don’t even know how many points we had. I think that’s when I knew.

Player you looked up to...

JE: Patrick Kane. He played at the USNTDP for two years. He is a great player to look up to and has had a lot of success in the NHL. I think he is one of the best players in the world. If I met him I would probably ask him what his experience in the NHL has been like being a highly touted prospect and how he got to such a high level in the league. Then I would ask him how about his two Olympic experiences, because it’s another goal of mine someday to be on an Olympic team.

CM: Sidney Crosby. Just watching everything he does, and he’s been in the spotlight since he was 14 or 15 years old, and the way he’s handled it all, and been so successful anywhere he’s been is just amazing to watch. He came in and had a 100- point season in the NHL, and that’s almost unheard of these days. And to say that I want to do that is a little bit of an extreme, but if I put in a lot of hard work, then who knows.

I want to be....

JE: ...the next best American hockey player. I take a lot of pride playing for USA and there have been so many great players that have come through. I have put a lot of work in and it’s a goal that is keen in my mind.

CM: impact player. While growing up, a lot of people just dream of playing in the NHL which I do, but I also dream of playing at a high level.

I should be the number one overall pick because...

JE: ...I am dedicated. I want to win and I am very competitive. I can bring a lot to an NHL team. I’m a big, physical centre who loves to play with the puck on my stick. I am really excited about the opportunities to come.

CM: If a team is willing to give me a chance, and take me with a high pick, then I’m willing to do whatever they tell me to do. I would bring a shifty quick player who is a good offensive threat, who works hard every game, who is a team player and who hates to lose.

I want to prove...

JE: ...that I’m a good enough player to have a career in the NHL. I won’t stop until I’ve achieved all of my goals. I’d like to make an NHL team some day. I’d love to win a Stanley Cup one day. That has always been a goal. I think every kid who plays hockey wants to win a Stanley Cup and hopefully get a chance to play in the Olympics and continue to represent USA.

CM: Well, you often hear a lot of people say “I want to prove people wrong.” But for me, people have always been really nice and given me praise, which I really appreciate, so I guess I just want to prove those people right and I don’t want there to be any doubters.


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