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#1 - Connor McDavid: The Obvious Choice

We've reached Number One, and he's sort of the obvious choice.

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Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Generational talents are a rare commodity in the hockey world. Coveted to the extreme, they're the type of players around which a team can build a successful franchise. They're that rare mixture of hockey skill and extreme marketability that can make a team successful both on the ice and at the bank. Adding a generational talent can revitalize a struggling franchise and give fans a new lease on life.

To be honest, despite a surfeit of number one overall draft picks at the NHL entry draft, the Oilers need a revitalization. The lack of sustained improvement over the course of several years has left fans wondering when, if ever, it will be the Oilers time to shine again. The addition of Connor McDavid at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, however, has been a catalyst for a renewed sense of hope and expectation. The last generational player to occupy a roster spot was the "Great One" himself, and the Oilers flourished with him on the team.





















Previous Rank: N/A

McDavid finds himself in the unenviable position of playing saviour to hosts of frustrated Oilers fans, but there are several reasons he may be up to the challenge.

First of all, McDavid is an incredibly talented player. There's an almost endless variety of YouTube videos of McDavid scoring a nice goal, finding his way around numerous defensemen, or setting up a beautiful play. His impressive 120 points in 47 games played certainly prove McDavid knows how to find the back of the net. Averaging 2.5 points per game puts McDavid into the elite category for Major Junior Players. Even more impressive is the fact McDavid increased his production by a factor of 1.2, jumping from a mere 99 points during the 2013-2014 season. McDavid managed this remarkable increase in fewer games, and completely dominated the OHL over the 2014-2015 season.

From a strictly numbers vantage point, the Oilers have never drafted a player who managed such dominance. Even Taylor Hall managed only 106 points in 57 games for an average of 1.86 points per game. Nugent-Hopkins also managed a junior career high of 106 points, but that was over the course of 69 games, for only 1.53 points per game. McDavid is a player on a different level. His offensive production seems to occur almost at will, and he does not lack for confidence or creativity. McDavid seems to have the Major Junior game all figured out. What this means for his production in the NHL, only time will tell; however, it is a good indicator that McDavid will have strong NHL career.

Second, McDavid has rigorous media exposure. If the concern is that McDavid won't be able to deal with the pressure of carrying the hopes of fans in such an intense hockey market, one only needs to look to his past to see he's already managed. There has been perhaps more media dedicated to McDavid than any other prospect in recent history. For Heaven's sake, McDavid has his own chapter in Bob McKenzie's Hockey Confidential. There are countless articles, analyses, and scouting reports that all prove McDavid is used to being in the spotlight.

As if more evidence of McDavid's ability to excel under pressure were required, there is also the 2015 World Juniors Tournament. McDavid entered the tournament recently recovered from a broken hand, with the hopes of a nation and the expectation of an end to "the gold medal drought." McDavid performed well, collecting 11 points in 7 games and helping Canada to a gold medal. If the pressure of having an entire nation watching his every move, he doesn't seem to have a negative effect on overall performance, it seems likely however intense the media scrutiny in Edmonton, McDavid will be able to cope.

There are also concerns about McDavid's ability to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. McDavid is a smaller, less experienced player with a target painted on his back in the coming season. Much like during his junior career, McDavid can expect to be one of the players opposing teams target as a player to shut down and box out. Whether or not he will be able to continue his dominant offensive production at the next level remains something of a question mark. At the Oilers summer developmental camp, McDavid wasn't fazed by the change in competition. Despite a strong developmental camp, the question mark remains as McDavid hasn't played against NHL level competition yet.

However, as Ed Arnold points out in his book Showtime: One Team, One Season, One Step From the NHL, the OHL is viewed primarily as a skill league, and the WHL as a league to produce gritty players.  McDavid's ability to deal with the combination of these factors at the next level has yet to be determined.  McDavid may find his offensive production stymied while he adjusts the pace, size, speed that defensemen learn the way others play at the NHL level, and physicality of the league.

Though doubts exist about McDavid's immediate impact at an NHL level, there are no doubts about where McDavid will end up for the next season. Due to the NHL-CHL agreement, McDavid can either play in Edmonton for the Oilers or in Erie for the Otters. While McDavid might not have the phenomenal rookie year of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, there is no point in returning him to Erie to dominate the OHL for another season. McDavid is in the unenviable position of needing to face competition at the next level to improve his game. The only place for him to do that is in the NHL. In this respect, the Oilers are in a similar position to the one the Senators faced with Curtis Lazar last year.

Oilers fans have a lot to be hopeful about with McDavid though. Nugent-Hopkins's strong rookie year shows that smaller 18-year-olds can still make a considerable impact on the scoreboard. McDavid has also made a commitment to getting bigger and into NHL-ready condition. How successful this commitment will be is something that will be evaluated at camp. McDavid's intense work ethic and commitment to playing in the NHL mean it's possible he will be in a better position to face older and stronger competition come the start of season.

Overall, expectations for McDavid are high. It might even be called McDavid Mania. McDavid has definitely captured the imagination of Oilers fans. Currently, all of his off-season activities are cause for excitement, and the fact he seemed to be able to play well with Taylor Hall at the BioSteel camp was cause for both speculation and rejoicing. An ability to play with already established Oilers stars is certainly a good sign for Oilers fans who hope to see McDavid make an immediate impact.

Oilers fans are currently in that stage of love and adoration when the object of their affections can do no wrong, the honeymoon phase so to speak. Expectations of McDavid will have to be tempered as the season approaches because, honestly, the presence of McDavid is going to make the Oilers better, but it won't make them an immediate contender.

McDavid may not be a Calder Trophy winner, but if he achieves a solid rookie season with decent point production, the Oilers (and fans) should be happy because McDavid will certainly grow into his starring role. He's not lacking for any of the pieces to make a monumental impact on the NHL expect experience right now.

Be patient, Oilers fans. Let McDavid develop his already formidable talent. Don't start talking about how the sky is falling if McDavid doesn't have the most amazing start in the NHL. After all, he wants to stay forever which means there's no need to rush things, and he's going to be more than can currently be imagined.

After all, who could truly imagine the way Gretzky changed the game when he first pulled on an Oilers sweater.