QUEBEC — Erie Otters star and projected No. 1 overall NHL draft pick Connor McDavid walked off with three Canadian junior hockey awards Saturday, including player of the year.
The 18-year-old was also named top prospect of the year and took the scholastic player of the year award for a second year in a row. He is expected to be taken first by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL draft on June 26.
“It’s been an exciting time for me. It’s been a whirlwind of a year,” McDavid said. “It’s nice that it’s getting close to the draft. I’ll be able to take some time off this summer.”
“You come in as a 15 year old just hoping to do the best you can and for this to happen is very special.”
The awards were announced by the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella organization for the Western, Ontario and Quebec Major Junior hockey leagues.
McDavid dominated junior hockey this season, finishing third in the OHL scoring race with 44 goals and 120 points in only 47 games. In the playoffs, he helped Erie reach the OHL final with 21 goals and 49 points in 20 games.
He also assisted Canada win gold at the world junior championship in Montreal and Toronto.
McDavid beat out Conor Garland of the Moncton Wildcats and Oliver Bjorkstrand of the Portland Winterhawks for player of the year honours.
He edged Timo Meier of the Halifax Mooseheads and Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the top prospect prize.
And he was selected over Jeremy Gregoire of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Nick McBride of the Prince Albert Raiders for the scholastic player trophy — one he is particularly proud of.
“I enjoy English a lot, not so much the reading books but the writing aspects of it,” McDavid said. “I’m not going to be that typical jock stereotype. I certainly don’t want that to be the case.”
The award for top scorer was shared by Garland and McDavid’s Erie teammate Dylan Strome, each with 129 points.
“It’s easy to play with a guy like that,” Strome said of McDavid. “He had one of the best juniors careers in history. It’s pretty cool to be one of his friends.”
Another Otter, Alex DeBrincat, was named rookie of the year. He finished seventh in the OHL with 51 goals and 104 points. DeBrincat edged Dmytro Timashov of the Quebec Remparts and Nolan Patrick of the Wheat Kings.
The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds took two awards. Anthony DeAngelo was named top defenceman while Sheldon Keefe got the Brian Kilrea coach of the year award.
“It’s a tremendous honour. It’s a reflection of the Soo Greyhounds organization as a whole,” Keefe said.
Keefe topped Joel Bouchard of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the Regina Pats’ John Paddock. DeAngelo edged Jan Kostalek of the Rimouski Oceanic and Shea Theodore of the Seattle Thunderbirds.
“He’s (DeAngelo) a strong personality and players gravitate to him,” Keefe said. “The way he pushed the pace offensively and pushed out guys to be better raised our level of play.”
The Oceanic’s Philippe Desrosiers was named goaltender of the year ahead of Seattle’s Taran Kozun and Lucas Peressini of the Kingston Frontenacs.
Rourke Chartier of the Kelowna Rockets got the most sportsmanlike player award over Strome and Kyle Farrell of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
The humanitarian of the year was Danick Martel of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, ahead of Nick Paul of the North Bay Battalion and Taylor Vickerman of the Tri-City Americans.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press