CHICAGO -- Count Hall of Famer Mark Messier among those impressed by the phenomena of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
With the top NHL draft prospects in town, Messier's meeting with a small group of reporters early this evening quickly turned into a discussion of McDavid and Eichel.
"There's an incredible amount of talent every year and it just seems to get better and better and better," Messier said. "This year is no different. We've got two players that are just incredible. I don't think anybody would argue with either player if they were fortunate to pick in the top two.
"Having said that, it's also important to realize these kids are 18 years old. they've got a lot of life experiences and hockey lesson experiences in front of them but what an exciting time for these kids. What an unbelievable opportunity for them. They'll have no better time the rest of their life than playing this game at the NHL level and competing at the Stanley Cup."
Messier was speaking prior to Game Three of the Stanley Cup final on behalf of the Bridgestone NHL Leadership Award. This year's three nominees are Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf and Winnipeg's Andrew Ladd.
Messier said he had a brief, 5-minute meeting here today with McDavid, who is expected to go the Edmonton Oilers. Messier, of course, won five Stanley Cups with the Oilers from 1984-1990. He did not have a chance to speak to Eichel
"My first impression was just incredible,' Messier said of McDavid. "What a fine, young gentleman, really down to Earth, very honored, genuinely so, to be in the position that he is. The thing that struck me most was how well versed he was in the history of the game and how much appreciation he had for the players that have carved the path.
"We're not expecting these kids to be 10-year veterans from day one. I think everybody expects them to make mistakes. That's part of the maturation process. We have to expect them to make mistakes off the ice too. God knows we made millions of them."
Messier on the Blackhawks' run to potentially winning three Cups in six years: "In my mind, it would be an incredible feat, no question. To keep the team together, to continue to compete at the highest level, to stay away from injuries that really cripple a team, to drafting, to management and trades, your hats go off to everybody."