It has been nearly a month since Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid fractured his fifth metacarpal bone in his right hand after inadvertently punching the glass during a fight with Mississauga Steelheads center Bryson Cianfrone. The ill-advised fight has McDavid sidelined until later this month and barring any setbacks, he should be able to return in time to suit up for Team Canada in the upcoming World Junior Championships.
This summer, there was a minority group who thought Jack Eichel could challenge McDavid as the favorite to go first overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Eichel, a North Chelmsford, Massachusetts native, is currently playing Division 1 hockey with Boston University and is a product of the U.S. NTDP in Michigan.
Before McDavid left the game holding his right hand in pain on that fateful night in Erie, Pennsylvania, he was showing why he has been the consensus 2015 first overall pick since he was a Bantam player. Through 18 games, he had already scored 51 points. To put things into perspective, he was scoring at a higher rate than Sidney Crosby’s final year of juniors when he posted 168 points in 62 games for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.
After McDavid went down with his hand injury, there was a stir within the hockey community about whether or not this was time for Jack Eichel to usurp the throne from McDavid. The NCAA brand of hockey requires a much more physical game as well as two-way play and even though he had just turned 18 at the start of the season, Eichel has already proved he can be dominant against players as old as 24 years of age. How dominant? In just 13 games, Eichel has 21 points to lead the third ranked Terriers in scoring.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to convince scouts to drop McDavid down a spot.
ISS, an independent scouting service based out of Guelph, Ontario, just released their December rankings which still show McDavid as the top overall ranked prospect for the 2015 draft and Eichel right behind in second. Hockeyprospect.com and DraftBuzz, two other similar scouting services, also ranked McDavid and Eichel first and second, respectively.
There is still a lot of hockey left to be played and McDavid is scheduled to return by December 26th when the WJC kicks off at the Bell Centre in Montreal. If he can continue where he left off, his name should be the first announced at the podium this summer in Florida.