On Tuesday at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York, the top two picks in June's draft will face off for the first time during their rookie NHL season. The Oilers and Sabres played Dec. 6 in Edmonton, but McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick, was sidelined at the time with a broken collarbone that cost him 37 games before he returned on Feb. 2.
Meanwhile, Eichel, the No. 2 overall selection, has enjoyed a productive freshman season. The dynamic 19-year-old center has 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games.
Despite missing three months, McDavid, 19, has been outstanding, as well, totaling 10 goals and 19 assists in 27 games.
Here's what to watch for in the first meeting between McDavid and Eichel:
Even before they were the top two picks, there was a sense McDavid and Eichel weren't too fond of each other. Whether they admit it or not, there will be a rivalry when the two compete against each other. Unfortunately, they're in different conferences and won't play that often.
McDavid made an interesting comment last month when asked about the likelihood of being teammates with Eichel on Team North America at September's World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
"I think we'll have to become a little bit closer, I guess, if we're both on [Team North America] or something like that," McDavid said. "I don't look at him as an enemy or a rival or anything like that. He's a fellow young guy in the league."
Calder Trophy winner?
It's too bad McDavid suffered that injury in early November, because it basically took him out of the rookie of the year race this season. My top five Calder Trophy picks (in no particular order): Eichel; Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin; Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere; and Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson.
Surrounded by talent
As expected, both Eichel and McDavid have been put in a position to succeed by their respective teams while they develop into NHL players. Eichel is centering Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane in Buffalo, while McDavid has been centering Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Eberle in Edmonton.