Crosby excited about McDavid's debut -- just like everyone else

TORONTO -- To say there is widespread anticipation of the NHL debut of 2015 first overall draft pick Connor McDavid qualifies as one of the great understatements of the past decade -- and maybe more.

In Sidney Crosby, you can count a former No. 1 draft pick and generational player among those eagerly anticipating McDavid’s arrival.

"I try to think back to those times and what was going through my mind at those times, when I was 18 coming to the NHL, [and] it still seems pretty fresh," Crosby told ESPN.com Tuesday.

"In a way, you’re kind of in anticipation too. You want to see how he does, but you’re also excited for him. This is the best time, being a young hockey player and going through all those things for the first time. That’s really exciting."

While talking to a group of reporters, Crosby acknowledged the discussion about McDavid, who was chosen by the Edmonton Oilers after a sensational junior career, reminds him of his own much-heralded arrival in the NHL in the fall of 2005.

“Oh, yeah. Definitely. And when you have to answer questions about it too, I think it just forces you to go back there, even though it’s 10 years ago,” Crosby said with a laugh.

“It’s something that I have thought about. When I think about all those things, I think about what was important to me at that age and whether it was my on-ice [preparation], what I needed to do there, or the people around me to help me to make that adjustment a lot easier. There’s a lot of things that go into it."

Since his NHL arrival, Crosby has won a Stanley Cup, two Hart Trophies as league MVP, a scoring title and two Olympic gold medals. McDavid's arrival as another superstar lock has reminded Crosby of how he was able to navigate those waters.

"I think when you’re in it, you don’t necessarily realize it, and that’s where the responsibility with the people around you is so important," Crosby said. "When you talk about adjusting and the expectations and all those things that’s why, really, your surroundings have such a big impact on how you do on the ice."

Crosby's arrival in the NHL came after a lockout that scuttled the entire 2004-05 season and playoffs, and the league was desperate to rebuild relationships with fans and sponsors. Crosby was immediately anointed the face of not just the Pittsburgh Penguins but also the entire league. From the outset, it is a role he has handled with class and dignity.

McDavid does not bear that kind of burden, but that doesn't mean expectations for him to help revive a moribund Edmonton franchise will be any less onerous.

Indeed, earlier Tuesday, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, another first overall pick, told ESPN.com he thinks McDavid might be better than he is right now -- without ever having played an NHL game.

Crosby did not appear all that surprised by the comment from Stamkos, one of the game’s premier forwards.

“You know what? From what I’ve heard, [McDavid] looked really good this summer," Crosby said. "If [Stamkos is] saying that, I believe it."

Although he has only watched McDavid via highlights and does not know him well, Crosby said he believes the young man is well-equipped to handle all that awaits him.

“I mean, how many 18-year-olds have his ability, right?” Crosby asked.

“I’m sure they’re as high as they should be,” he said of the expectations. “But I think for him he’s just got to kind of enjoy the process and make sure that he doesn’t get too caught up in that. From what I’ve kind of seen from interviews and things like that -- got a chance to meet him here this summer once -- he’s pretty level-headed.

"I think he’s got things figured out pretty early on. I understand that the expectations are high, but he looks like a guy who looks like he’s going to be able to live with that."

As was the case with Crosby, McDavid is going to face a never-ending barrage of questions and attention as he travels from NHL city to NHL city. That will be markedly different from most 18-year-old players’ experiences, Crosby noted.

“With that being said, though, I think he has really good people around him in the organization and as well players that played in the league long enough," Crosby said. "But they’re not guys who are that much older where they can’t relate to a lot of things that he’ll go through. I think there’s really a good balance of everything there for him."