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Expected NHL top draft pick Macklin Celebrini meets ‘15 No. 1 Connor McDavid at Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, left, skates with the puck as Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad pursues during the first period of Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Saturday in Sunrise, Fla. (AP photo)

SUNRISE, Fla. — Nine years after meeting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews during the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago, Connor McDavid got to pay it forward Monday in his first appearance in the series.

McDavid visited with Macklin Celebrini, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2024 NHL draft, and other top prospects after the Edmonton Oilers’ morning skate in preparation for Game 2 against the Florida Panthers.

“Seem like some great kids,” McDavid said. “They said they had fun at the combine, which we were surprised at. But yeah, it’s an exciting time for them.”

McDavid and Celebrini met before, at a summer hockey camp last year and at a game in Edmonton. Celebrini, the Vancouver native, was in attendance for the Oilers’ Game 7 victory against his hometown Canucks earlier in the playoffs.

Hoping McDavid didn’t see him cheering against him that night, Celebrini appreciated another chance to chat with the three-time league MVP, whose position he’d love to be in someday.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, right, and defenseman Mattias Ekholm talk during practice before Media Day for the Stanley Cup Finals on Friday in Sunrise, Fla. (AP photo)

“It was awesome to talk to him, especially on a big game day,” said Celebrini, who figures to have his name called by the San Jose Sharks to kick off the draft at the Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28. “Hopefully in the future I’m playing in the Stanley Cup Final, so I really hope so.”

Celebrini was joined by Cayden Lindstrom, Artyom Levshunov and Zeev Buium, who are also expected to be taken among the first several picks. As for advice, McDavid — taken first by the Oilers in the 2015 draft coincidentally held at the Panthers arena — kept it simple.

“It doesn’t really matter where you’re picked,” he said. “Those kids will all be in the top five. But it doesn’t really matter where you’re drafted. That’s just the start.”

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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