Sometimes there's debate about which player should be selected first overall in a given draft. This is not one of those times. Everyone knows that the Edmonton Oilers are going to select Connor McDavid with the first overall pick, and everyone expects him to be the best of the four (!) first overall selections the team has had since the infinibuild began. The question now is just how good he might be. Is he as good as Gretzky? As Lemieux? As Crosby? Let's take a look at the players who've had comparable scoring rates in order to get an idea.
In this case, a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted goals per game rate between 0.76 and 1.14 and adjusted points per game rate between 1.98 and 2.97 (80% to 120% of McDavid's production), and was selected with one of the draft's first six selections. I'd normally use a tighter range (90% to 110%), but that would yield no comparables at all; Connor McDavid is a unique talent, folks. Here are the results:
That's pretty formidable offensive company with Pavel Brendl tagging along to make sure everyone's sphincters stay tight. Thankfully, one of the major differences between Brendl and McDavid is the amount of information available about them in their draft seasons. Brendl's draft year was his first in North America, whereas McDavid was already playing at a high level in the CHL in his Draft -1 season. When I looked at the question of improvement in pre-draft seasons a few years ago, I noted that CHL rookies (like Brendl) had a much weaker relationship between their CHL and NHL performance than other CHL players. I also found that there was a particularly strong relationship between CHL and NHL performance if the player's points per game only improved by a small amount (less than 62%) from their Draft -1 season to their Draft season. Both Sidney Crosby (19%) and Connor McDavid (50%) fit into this category, a very encouraging sign that McDavid will bring his offense with him as he turns pro.
The other encouraging piece to this puzzle is the verbal around McDavid. With an offensive player like this, there's plenty of talk about what makes him dangerous. When scouts say things like, "his speed might just be unprecedented" that's certainly worth getting excited over. But it's just as exciting to see people saying things like, "his general anticipation and hockey sense play well across all zones." When a player with offensive skills like McDavid's is getting positive reviews for his overall game, you know you've got the total package.
Next up this afternoon: Jack Eichel