Wayne Gretzky says Connor McDavid is the best 18-year old hockey player he has seen since Mario Lemieux was that age.
To be sure, like Gretzky and Lemieux before him, McDavid is a hockey gem, a kid who plays the game as though he has a sixth sense — a skilled, cerebral skater with soft hands, keen eyes and stop-and-go, breakaway speed.
Having already played three seasons of junior and about to be the first overall pick at the 2015 National Hockey League draft, this is it for McDavid as far as his Ontario Hockey League career goes.
Enjoy him while you can at the OHL level because next season, McDavid will be in the NHL as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.
Yes, apropos, the Edmonton Oilers, for whom Gretzky was the Great One for all of those record-breaking, record-setting, legendary seasons.
McDavid, a good-sized centre — he is listed at 6-foot-2, 187 pounds — may not be the next coming of Gretzky but then again, it is doubtful whether there ever will be a sequel to no. 99.
But no. 97 — McDavid — just may be as good as hockey fans are going to get for a long time.
During the 2014-2015 regular season, McDavid finished third in the OHL scoring with 44 goals, 76 assists, 120 points in 47 games.
That’s right, 120 points despite missing a third of the season on the injured list.
In three regular seasons as a member of the Erie Otters, McDavid has put up 97 goals, 188 assists, 285 points in 166 games — remarkable figures considering that he started playing as an underaged 15-year who gained special entry into the OHL as an exceptional talent.
Even if you aren’t an Erie fan — and outside of Pennsylvania there aren’t many of those — it’s easy to be a McDavid fan.
And why not?
He is, by all accounts, a young man of good character.
He is, by all accounts, in the character — and hockey — class of Gretzky and Lemieux.
Only question regarding McDavid from this corner is: Why do so many Soo Greyhound fans boo him whenever he touches the puck?
Playful fun perhaps?
Let’s hope so.
Enjoy watching McDavid at this level while you can.
His OHL days are about to turn into bright NHL nights.
PHOTO: The eyes of the hockey world are on Erie Otters star centre Connor McDavid