SPORTS

Former Oilers great Coffey thinks McDavid will "do great" in Edmonton

04/22/2015 04:24 EDT | Updated 07/17/2015 02:59 EDT
TORONTO - Former Oilers great Paul Coffey knows all about starting an NHL career in Edmonton.

He thinks Connor McDavid will do just fine if the Oilers do the expected and select the junior phenom with the first overall pick in this year's draft.

"I left Connor a note the other day congratulating him on going to Edmonton, an incredible city with great fans and the City of Champions," Coffey said Wednesday. "I was there seven years and am a former Oiler. I'm still proud to call myself an Oiler. I think he'll do great there."

Edmonton won the draft lottery last weekend despite having just an 11.5 per cent chance of doing so. Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said there is "zero" chance that he'll trade the pick.

McDavid, who had 120 points in 47 games this season for the Erie Otters, is considered a rare talent along the lines of a Sidney Crosby or Wayne Gretzky. It was the fourth lottery win in six years for the Oilers, who selected Taylor Hall in 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011 and Nail Yakupov in 2012.

Coffey broke in with the Oilers in 1980-81 and spent seven seasons in Edmonton, winning the Stanley Cup there on three occasions.

"They talk about Toronto being a tough place to play and these other cities, I mean Edmonton is just as tough — but fair," he said. "I think that the whole town, the fans were instrumental in all of our careers because they kept us accountable. (If you) had a bad game, you knew about it. But they were also a great enough fanbase that they came out to support. They love the Oilers, they've got a new rink coming there.

"Call it whatever you want, Connor McDavid is going to Edmonton. It's pretty exciting as a former guy. You've got Toronto, Buffalo, Arizona, I guess, where maybe a lot of people were hoping he'd (go) to, but that's the way it goes."

The Sabres, who finished last overall and had the best chance of winning the lottery, will pick second and are expected to choose American centre Jack Eichel. The Arizona Coyotes have the third pick, ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes.

Some hockey fans rolled their eyes when the Oilers landed the top pick, thinking a franchise that has already had great lottery fortune should not have won again. Others felt it would have been better for McDavid and the NHL if he played in a different market where his star could shine brighter instead of with a franchise that has sputtered for years.

"I really think those people don't know what they're talking about for starters," Coffey said. "I mean Edmonton is a great place to play. It was a great starting point for me and maybe if all of us (from the Oilers' dynasty era) didn't get into contract problems, we would have all ended our careers there. I think Daryl Katz is a very good owner, a guy that loves the Oilers, loves Edmonton and will do whatever he can to make that team successful."

Coffey met with reporters Wednesday after Canada's Sports Hall of Fame announced he would be inducted this fall. The three-time Norris Trophy winner and 14-time all-star had 1,531 points in 1,409 career regular-season games.

The NHL Entry Draft will be held June 26 in Sunrise, Fla.

———

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

MORE:cpSports