Connor McDavid set to make professional debut with Oilers in rookie tournament

PENTICTON, B.C. — After leading his teammates onto the ice for the morning skate, Connor McDavid glided to the end boards and set up one of the nets for practice.

The phenom might be the new face of the Edmonton Oilers, but he’s also still a rookie.

McDavid will make his professional debut tonight when the Oilers’ prospects meet their counterparts with Vancouver Canucks in the opener of the Young Stars tournament.

The hockey media has followed the first pick at June’s draft to this city of some 30,000 in the Okanagan Valley, but the attention is something the 18-year-old McDavid is accustomed to after being branded as the sport’s next superstar long before he laced up his skates in the Ontario Hockey League.

“It’s something I’ve been dealing with for a little bit now and getting more and more used to,” said McDavid. “I’m pretty comfortable with it … it’s a good problem to have I guess.”

McDavid, who will centre a line with 21-year-old Mitch Moroz and 20-year-old Greg Chase against the Canucks, took time to sign an autograph for a young fan after practice, something he said comes with the territory.

“It’s kind of your responsibility to do stuff like that,” he said. “I was for sure once that little kid who’s looking to get someone’s autograph. It’s your job to do stuff like that now. It feels good to do stuff like that.”

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press