After missing out last season, Connor McDavid (sort of) excited to make All-Star Game debut

— -- ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mere days before he was to lead the Pacific Division team as captain at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid was preoccupied.

Preoccupied, that is, with the two pivotal divisional games before the All-Star Game.

But when pressed, McDavid was excited about his upcoming All-Star debut. Given the season he has already had and the attention the emerging superstar will likely receive at Staples Center during the skills competition on Jan. 28 and All-Star Game on Jan. 29, it could be quite a weekend for a generational player who is just two weeks removed from his 20th birthday.

"It's definitely special," said McDavid, who was voted an All-Star captain by the fans. "I definitely appreciate the fans' vote. It really means a lot to be going to the All-Star Game. With the fans voting me in, it definitely makes it extra special."

Having led the scoring race for much of the season, McDavid will likely be a focal point of the weekend. Enforcer John Scott's surprising MVP turn last season notwithstanding, an impressive performance at the All-Star Game can help springboard legends into NHL immortality.

Barely two weeks after his 22nd birthday, another iconic Oilers captain, Wayne Gretzky, earned All-Star MVP honors in 1983 with a record-setting four-goal performance. Mario Lemieux was only 19 when he was named MVP of the 1985 game, which made him the only rookie to win the honor.

Given the excitement swirling around McDavid from the moment in October when Edmonton named him the youngest captain in NHL history, there's certainly a sense that it could be his weekend.

"Being a captain and leading the league in scoring and obviously with his stature, he'll be a big, big part of the All-Star event," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "I'm sure he's excited about going and participating in it."

McDavid was barely an afterthought at last year's midseason classic. By the time Scott became the unlikely hero of the 2016 game in Nashville, McDavid had already been out of the lineup for almost three months because of a broken collarbone sustained in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. As such, there is a sense of unfinished business this season for the first-overall pick in 2015.

"My first time, obviously, I didn't get a chance to really compete to be in it last year," McDavid said. "But it's special to be part of it this year."

Forced to watch the All-Star Game from afar as a rookie, McDavid found a way to make the experience exciting. His roommate last season, winger Taylor Hall, participated in the game and earned a share of the winner-take-all $1 million prize by helping the Pacific win the inaugural 3-on-3 tournament. McDavid and then-teammate Luke Gazdic, who also lived in Hall's Edmonton home last season, enjoyed making the event interactive as they watched in their basement rec room.

"We had the game on, and we were watching the fastest skater and going nuts for Taylor when he was flying around the rink. We were Snapchatting him and sending it to Taylor," Gazdic said. "He actually had his phone out on the ice. They were filming other things going on. So we Snapchatted and sent it to Taylor while he was on the ice. It was fun."

While he was on the verge of returning from his lengthy injury, watching the All-Star experience from afar provided much-needed levity for the ultracompetitive McDavid. Of course, the game's stakes were raised considerably by Hall, who will again appear in the All-Star Game after being traded in the summer to the New Jersey Devils.

"Of course I watched it. My roommate was there last year, and he put a little something up if they won," McDavid said. "So we were definitely watching and hoping and praying for it. We're happy that he was able to win it."

Details of the friendly wager between teammates weren't divulged, but Hall treated his teammates to a fancy dinner after collecting his victor's spoils. The dinner was made even sweeter by the return of McDavid, who rejoined his team in its first game following the All-Star break, a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in which he scored a goal and added two assists.

After last season's All-Star weekend, Hall didn't return to Edmonton with just prize money and an unforgettable experience. He brought his All-Star gear with him, including the helmet and jersey. Still relishing the opportunity to make his own mark as an All-Star, McDavid seemed awfully impressed.

"We were proud of him and Connor was, for sure. He was definitely thinking it was pretty cool," said Gazdic, also now a member of the Devils. "I'm sure he knew in his mind that he was going to get there someday."

Just days before he takes center stage this weekend, "someday" has arrived for Connor McDavid.

The Oilers star hasn't hinted at specific plans for the game or skills competition, but considering that the 3-on-3 All-Star format caters perfectly to his otherworldly skill set, he could figure prominently in the festivities -- just as soon as he's finished leading the Oilers against two of their strongest divisional foes.

"It's exciting. I'm definitely looking forward to it, but we've got a lot to do before I worry about that," McDavid said in reference to crucial midseason back-to-back games against the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, two teams sitting ahead of the Oilers in the division standings. "We have a big game [Wednesday] and another one tomorrow in San Jose. Definitely worried about that before getting to All-Star."