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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Back in Sunrise, Connor McDavid Comes ‘Full Circle’

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Connor McDavid meets with local youth players at the Ice Den in Coral Springs prior to being the top pick of the 2015 NHL Draft — which was held in Sunrise — by the Edmonton Oilers. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

SUNRISE — A few weeks from now, Connor McDavid will celebrate his ninth anniversary of being the first-overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers.

That draft was held at the Panthers’ arena in Sunrise.

Funny thing: McDavid is back in Sunrise, but it is not for a draft.

McDavid, almost nine years later, has become not only one of the best players in the NHL but perhaps one of the best to ever play in the NHL.

Edmonton fans were right to be excited about winning the draft lottery to get this guy.

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“I think our fans were a little at the end of their run with this team and then they got this golden ticket,” Bob Stauffer, Edmonton’s radio color analyst, said before that 2015 draft.

“They know how good he is. This guy is going to be the best player in the NHL in three to five years. I don’t think we’ve seen his combination of speed and skill and his vision is off the charts. He’s going to make everyone else better.’’

Indeed, he has.

McDavid is in his first Stanley Cup Final.

Small world and all, it starts here in Sunrise — the place where his NHL career officially got started back in the day.

“It’s kind of funny how it’s worked out,’’ McDavid said Friday afternoon at his first finals media day. “It’s full circle, almost nine years to the day in this building.

“I think looking back, it goes by so fast. It feels like it was yesterday that night was happening, and here we are nine years later.”

McDavid, as the celebrated top pick of that draft, got quite the tour of South Florida back in 2015.

He took part in batting practice at Marlins Park, hit the water with other top picks, and took part in a youth camp at the Panthers’ training facility in Coral Springs.

The 2015 draft was all about McDavid long before it came to South Florida with a number of teams tanking in hopes of winning the lottery and being able to select the wunderkind from the OHL’s Erie Otters.

Edmonton finished 28th in the NHL that season behind Buffalo and Arizona, but won their ‘golden ticket’ in the draft lottery.

It was Edmonton’s fourth win in six years.

And, here we are.

Now, McDavid gets the chance to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career.

He is already mentioned with some of the greats in Oilers history — including that ‘Great One’ — but he is missing one thing.

Wayne Gretzky, of course, won the Cup four times with the Oilers before being traded to Los Angeles in 1988.

“I’m excited to get the madness all over with,’’ McDavid said. “We spend a lot of time on that plane. We’re one of the most traveled in the league, so it’s only fitting that we’re going to play in the furthest Stanley Cup Final of all time.

“They’re a great team and they require your full attention. You’ve got to stay in the moment. You only can do what’s in front of you.”

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

2024 STANLEY CUP FINAL
EDMONTON OILERS VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS 
GAME 1
  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Local Betting Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-145); Puck line (-1.5, +165); Over/Under 5.5 (-120/-110). Series Panthers -150
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1:Edmonton at Florida, Saturday; Game 2: Edmonton at Florida, Monday; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday; Game 4: Florida at Edmonton, Saturday June 15; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday June 18; Game 6*: Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; Game 7*: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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