Connor McDavid with the OHL's Erie Otters. (Photo: Melissa Kania)

Should the Buffalo Sabres Land Connor McDavid?

For a while now, Connor McDavid has been touted as one of the highly-ranked draft picks for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Could he someday end up as a member of the Buffalo Sabres? Should the team select him if given the option?

I’ve been watching McDavid play since he entered the OHL in 2012 at the age of 15. He’s now in his second season with the Erie Otters, who are one of the top teams in the league right now, and have clinched a playoff spot with just under a month left in the regular season.

Having watched him play for the last year and a half, I’ll sum things up for you: he’s a good play-maker with solid scoring ability, and when surrounded with the right players, it only makes him better.

McDavid caught the attention of many people when he entered the OHL; after all, it’s not too often that 15-year-olds are granted special status to play at such a young age.

Immediately, the comparisons came in, calling McDavid the next Sidney Crosby. I’ll kick that off to the side right away by saying that I don’t like comparing players in such a way. You can’t know how any player is going to do in the future, and making basic comparisons like that based on so little evidence is a little silly, in my opinion.

That being said, Connor McDavid is a great player. In his first OHL season, he put up 25 goals and 41 assists for 66 points in 63 games with the Otters.

Despite being a rookie, he ended the season second on the team in scoring, tied with team captain Connor Brown – a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect – for the lead in assists. He was second overall in points scoring for OHL rookies, two points behind Nikolay Goldobin of the Sarnia Sting.

This season, the Otters have so far played 46 games, and McDavid has 78 points, including 19 goals and 59 assists.

Many will be quick to point out that he’s not the leading scorer on Erie, but that just speaks volumes for how genuinely good the team is this year; there’s guys like Brown and Dane Fox (recently signed by the Vancouver Canucks) leading the way, but McDavid is certainly making his own contributions.

Although his goal total (19) is sixth-best on the Otters, it’s his assists that really make you go “Wow, okay. This kid is good.” Fifty-nine assists is second on the Otters behind Brown (71), and also second in the entire Ontario Hockey League.

McDavid is undoubtedly a good player. He’s added a lot of size over the past year – easily noticeable by anyone who saw him play last season in Erie versus this season – and can easily be a strong, dangerous player, particularly when working with a good core system.

He’s still ranked among the top NHL draft picks for 2015, although it’s not a guarantee that he’ll be selected first overall in the end. After all, just look at guys like Seth Jones – ranked for so long as the top draft pick, but fell to fourth overall.

Regardless of all that, it’s obviously uncertain to claim that I – or anyone else – can know with certainty what McDavid will do in the NHL.

Right now, he’s a skilled player. At the age of 17, he’s still got things to learn and lots of room to grow — as in, literally, he’s only 17 so he’s going to keep growing, but also room to develop in his mental game as well.

But if he keeps working hard as he has the past year and a half, he’ll easily be a dangerous player once he hits the NHL, no matter where he plays. I’m not willing to bet my money on his being the next Sidney Crosby – it’s downright unfair in my eyes to set up that sort of comparison. Point is, he’s good.

So – should the Buffalo Sabres select him in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft if the team gets the option?

Right now, my answer is a resounding HECK YES….. why NOT?

Although I don’t know where the Sabres will be at that point – what players will still be here, which ones will be long gone…. McDavid has the potential to make any team he plays on a better one, and I’d certainly be willing to give him a shot on the Sabres to see what he can do at an NHL level, even though it’ll obviously be an adjustment from playing in the OHL.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time for things to change…. but one way or another, McDavid will be drafted by SOME NHL team in just 487 days and counting.

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