Connor McDavid, CCM agree to sponsorship deal

CCM Hockey announced Thursday night that Connor McDavid has agreed to exclusively use the company's equipment and also play a key role in marketing campaigns.

Hockey phenom ranked 1st by NHL Central Scouting

Connor McDavid, formerly of the Erie Otters, is expected to be selected first overall in the NHL draft later this month. (Matt Mead/The Canadian Press)

Connor McDavid casually slipped his hands into his pockets and turned to watch the big screen behind him, where the next chapter of hockey's top prospect began to unfold Thursday in the form of a commercial.

At 18, and a little over three weeks before he's expected to be chosen first in the NHL draft, McDavid has already landed his first major sponsorship deal. It's with CCM Hockey, where McDavid joins a high-profile stable of stars, including Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Pavel Datsyuk and Montreal goalie Carey Price.

"I don't think I'm the face of the brand by any means," McDavid said. "I mean there's a whole bunch of great names that are partnered with it. And I'm just a part of that. To be a part of that is a very special today."

It's a multiyear deal in which Montreal-based Reebok-CCM will outfit McDavid in equipment from helmet to skate blade. In exchange, he will play a role in marketing campaigns, beginning with the company's launch of a commercial series titled, "Made of Hockey."

The announcement coincided with the NHL pre-draft scouting combine taking place in Buffalo, where McDavid is among the league's top 120 prospects taking part. NHL Central Scouting has McDavid ranked first on its list of prospects, just ahead of Boston University centre Jack Eichel.

McDavid is projected to be selected by Edmonton with the first pick in the draft on June 26 in Florida.

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The 18-year-old centre had 44 goals and 72 assists for 120 points in 47 games in his third season with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. McDavid also was part of the Canadian national team that won the world junior championship in January.

Overall, the Toronto-area native has 97 goals, 188 assists for 285 points in 166 career junior games.

CCM Vice-President of global marketing Sean Williams said signing McDavid was an important step for his company.

"To have the best young player who's coming along in a long time decide to partner with us, we think that's a big deal," Williams said.

And to have McDavid start his career in Edmonton should provide a boost to CCM's already strong presence in Canada.

"Our hope is that it helps our global presence, and I think it will at least help our Canadian presence," Williams said. "But if Connor McDavid excels like we expect him to, I think he could have a broader impact."

McDavid has been CCM equipment for numerous years, and said it was never a question for him to sign with the company.

The commercial featured clips of McDavid's highlight-reel goals. And there's also video of McDavid peppering pucks at a plywood wall inside his family's garage.

The story, as McDavid explained, was part of a challenge his father, Brian, made to Connor and brother Cameron when they were youngsters. If they could break a hole through the plywood, then he promised to get them an NHL tryout.

"My brother and I kind of took that as a little bit of a challenge and maybe aimed for it a couple too many times," McDavid said. "But eventually, we did break through it."

McDavid then smiles, and said: "I guess he owes us an NHL tryout. But we'll see."