The 2015 NHL draft was a big year for the sport with the emergence of two highly-anticipated prospects, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. The two are already being called “generational players,” a term also used to describe Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux and the great Wayne Gretzky.
In the draft, McDavid was selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers, while Eichel was chosen second by the Buffalo Sabres. The two will face each other for the very first time tonight, in Buffalo. McDavid missed the first Oilers/Sabres matchup, in Edmonton, when he suffered a clavicle injury and missed almost two months of the season.
Excitement is high surrounding the first meeting of the two star rookies. The two have been constantly compared, not only in their rookie seasons, but as far back as into their prospect days.
However, the two players themselves are taking the highly anticipated game in stride.
“I think you just try to go about your business like any other guy in the room,” Eichel had said Thursday. “When you get through that draft process, I think it all kind of goes away.”
McDavid echoed the sentiment, saying, “[For] me personally, it’s not really too much of a big deal. We got drafted together, sure, but other than that we don’t really share that much in common. He plays in the East, I play in the West. He [played college hockey], I played in junior. So we’re basically opposites in that sense. So for us personally, there is not much to it.”
Though the two have said that they like each other well-enough, though they don’t spend a lot of time together, especially playing for teams on the opposite side of the continent.
“I think we all had a good time doing that whole [pre-draft] prospects tour,” Eichel said. “We had a good time together and I think we got to know each other a little better. He’s a good dude and he’s a good dude to be around and it was a lot of fun hanging out with him.”
So it seems that the microphones and cameras have contrived most of the “rivalry” between the two and it looks as though the elevated hype surrounding the top picks starts and stops with the media. Regardless, the game tonight should be one for the books as two of the league’s potential stars go head-to-head.
McDavid’s friends and family will be at the game tonight in Buffalo, too, to add to the excitement.
McDavid has 10 goals and 29 points in 27 games for the Oilers, having missed 37 games due to injury. He is currently ninth in NHL rookie scoring. While Eichel has 17 goals and 41 points in 63 games for the Sabres and is third in rookie scoring. Connor McDavid was just named February’s Rookie of the Month by the NHL, today.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports