Two of the NHL's top talents have come together to prepare for the 2020-21 campaign.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews are sharing ice in Arizona four times a week. While they may be rivals during the season, there's no shortage of mutual admiration between the two.
"The respect goes back for so long," Matthews said of McDavid, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. "Connor's hockey IQ, speed, and edges are so impressive - to say the least - and his vision at the speed he moves obviously stands out, yet it really is the whole package with him."
The pair were teammates on an electric Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and have since taken the NHL by storm. McDavid says sharing more ice with the Maple Leafs star has allowed him to appreciate Matthews' game beyond his lethal scoring ability.
"When you watch his game, his shot is the first thing you notice. But, spending more time together, I've noticed just how smooth he is on the ice. It's very impressive," McDavid said.
The star duo's peers have taken an interest as well. Jonathan Toews joined the pair last week, while other players, including Jake Bean, Anthony Duclair, Matt Dumba, Alex Galchenyuk, and several Arizona Coyotes have also participated, according to Friedman.
Longtime Coyotes captain Shane Doan runs the practices, and the 44-year-old is impressed by what he's seen from the two world-class talents.
"They do everything at 99 percent," Doan said, per Freidman. "I don't know if there's any difference when (Matthews/McDavid) have the puck or don't have the puck. Other players aren't as fast when carrying it ... It’s just the way they do everything at top speed, so impressive."
The NHL is targeting Jan. 1 for opening day next season, which means training camps would likely open in mid-to-late December.