Generational talents: McDavid vs. Gretzky, Lemieux, Lindros and Crosby

Connor McDavid  (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

Connor McDavid provided scouts, fans and NHL GMs with plenty of eureka moments throughout his draft year. But none compared to what he did April 10 in a playoff game against the London Knights.

McDavid calmly, casually assaulted the OHL’s most prestigious franchise with five goals, leading his Erie Otters to a 7-3 victory. He wasn’t the first mega prospect to score five in a playoff game, but the way he did it bugged many eyeballs out of many skulls. It was just so…easy for him. He scored on a laser wrister through a self-designed screen. He blew past three Knights on a 1-on-3 rush to create his own breakaway. He picked a defenseman’s pocket and stuffed home a puck in the blink of an eye. He even scored accidentally when a Knight pokechecked the puck into his own goal, for Pete’s sake.

The performance carved McDavid once and for all into an echelon above Jack Eichel as the surefire No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft. McDavid, by all accounts, is a generational talent, the most hyped player since Sidney Crosby, following in the footsteps of Eric Lindros, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. But how do we know McDavid’s game will translate into NHL superstardom? What evidence can we glean by looking at prior generational talents?

The best expertise comes from those who rubbed shoulders with the greats, so we turned to two of them for help: Hall of Famer and Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and probable Hall of Famer turned Pittsburgh Penguins player development coach Mark Recchi.

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Leafs get their guy in Mike Babcock; now he needs his guys on the ice

Ryan Kennedy
Mike Babcock (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When elite hockey writers began scanning flight plan websites, you knew this was going to be a different kind of circus. And when it was finally confirmed that the Toronto Maple Leafs had hired Mike Babcock as their new head coach, the corresponding media bomb went off. Less than 24 hours later, the former Detroit Red Wings bench boss has his first press conference out of the way and the table has been set…somewhat.

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Memorial Cup preview: How each team wins or loses

Leon Draisaitl (Melissa Baecker/Getty Images)

We know our four teams for the Memorial Cup now. Thanks to Oshawa’s ousting of Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters, the Generals will represent the OHL, joining Kelowna of the WHL, plus Quebec (the hosts) and Rimouski in the QMJHL. So who is favored to win it all? Ah, that’s a thorny question in a tournament that often surprises. But let’s take a look at what you should know about the four worthy squads in contention.

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Jagr and Eichel proving age means nothing at the World Championship

Jaromir Jagr (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

As we pause briefly from the Stanley Cup playoffs, let’s turn our eyes over to Europe for a second, where the World Championship is down to four teams. Canada plays the Czech Republic in one semifinal, while Russia and the United States renew hostilities on the other side of the bracket.

If Canada hopes to move on, they’ll have to stop an ageless icon. Meanwhile, the Russians will have their hands full with a powerful teenager.

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Canadiens need to do more than tinker to become true Cup contender

Max Pacioretty (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

In light of the Montreal Canadiens exiting the playoffs with a whimper Tuesday night, now is as good a time to ask the question. What exactly are the Montreal Canadiens? Are they a team on the rise that is a couple of pieces away from being a Stanley Cup winner or has their success been a mirage orchestrated by an all-world goaltender and a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman in the prime of his career?

The Canadiens will have to answer those questions this off-season. More specifically, GM Marc Bergevin will. On one hand, they were three points away from winning the Presidents’ Trophy. On the other hand, they were one of the worst possession teams in the NHL, had a terrible power play and looked very ordinary against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.

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Prospect Hot List: Travis Dermott the one to watch on Erie’s blueline

Travis Dermott (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Major junior playoffs have reached the final series, while the AHL post-season is well into the second round. An incredibly exciting 2014-15 campaign is nearing its end, so I’m opening up the Hot List a bit to younger prospects. Like those that came before them, they are the players you’ll want to know and that we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

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Team 2, Superstar 0: Generals take commanding lead over Connor McDavid-led Otters

Ken Campbell
Connor McDavid (Photo by Ken Andersen/Getty Images)

OSHAWA – Speed kills. You figure they’d know that in a city that exists because of the car industry. But instead of being an assembly line of sleek speedsters, the Oshawa Generals are driving the Erie Otters and their superstar nuts by commandeering the slow lane.

There are many, many reasons why Connor McDavid is special. One of the main ones is that he can do so many things at top speed. His ability to gain the zone with the puck and with speed is legendary. But he’s done next to nothing in the OHL final because the Generals have taken that aspect of the game almost completely away from him. Sure, the kid had some pretty good looks in Game 2 of the OHL championship series, a 5-1 drubbing of the Erie Otters by the Generals, but the Generals had an incredible amount of gap control. Almost non-existent were McDavid’s blinding zone entries and only a few times was he able to jump on loose pucks in the offensive zone. Read more

How to snuff out a superstar

Oshawa's Cole Cassels  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Oshawa Generals knew they had a tall task on their hands. Facing Erie in the OHL final, the Gens had to figure out a way to stop Otters superstar Connor McDavid, who came into Game 1 with a dizzying 42 points in 15 playoff games. At the end of the night, McDavid had been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for and the Gens thrilled their fans with a 4-1 win.

If Game 1 was any indication, this series will be fought in both the trenches and the war rooms. Oshawa’s strategy for battening down McDavid was to have Vancouver Canucks prospect Cole Cassels on against the consensus No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft this summer as much as possible.

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