Oilers name McDavid youngest captain
EDMONTON, ALBERTA >> The Edmonton Oilers have made Connor McDavid the youngest captain in NHL history.
McDavid will wear the “C” despite being 19 years and 266 days old and having just 45 games of NHL experience under his belt.
It might seem intimidating for a player entering his second season to lead teammates who have been around the block a few times, but McDavid said he’s more comfortable in this role than he was serving as captain of the North America team at the World Cup of Hockey.
“That (North America) was even more of a difficult job than this,” McDavid said Wednesday. “You’re trying to get to know the guys all at the same time, while here in Edmonton everyone’s so close.
“I definitely feel more comfortable in this dressing room than that one.”
Oilers coach Todd McLellan said the phenom is ready to handle the pressures that go along with the title of captain.
“He’s mature beyond his years, so he’s dealt with all of you since he was 14,” McLellan said Wednesday. “He handles himself very well and takes care of his teammates in front of and with the media, which we think is very important in a Canadian franchise.”
He had 16 points and 32 assists in his rookie season in 2015-16 despite missing 37 games with a broken collarbone.
“He showed that he was ready to take charge,” McLellan said.
The native of Newmarket, Ontario, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, will follow in some big footsteps as captain, including those of Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
McDavid previously served as captain of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters. He said he’s not the most demonstrative leader, preferring to lead by example.
“I’m definitely not the most vocal guy in the room,” McDavid said. “I think I’m a guy who can relate to everyone, and I try to lead that way. I’m not the big ‘rah rah’ kind of guy.”
McLellan said he sees similarities between McDavid and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who also was handed the “C” when he was 19.
“He’s an ambassador of the game,” McLellan said of McDavid. “He understands his role.”
McDavid said back in August that he wanted to “show everyone that I’m not some 18-year-old kid anymore.”
Though he missed almost half of last season, McDavid performed on a level not seen from an 18-yearold since Crosby.
The Oilers hope a healthy McDavid and a revamped roster will put an end to their decade-long postseason drought.
Edmonton hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2006 and was last in the Western Conference last season despite the notable additions of McDavid, McLellan, and Cam Talbot, a No. 1 goaltender who offered rare stability in the crease.
The Oilers made more changes in the offseason, acquiring reliable defenseman Adam Larsson and 6-foot-3, 233-pound bruiser Milan Lucic. They also selected Finland’s Jesse Puljajarvi with the fourth overall pick at the June draft.
The Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday made 19-year-old Connor McDavid the youngest captain in NHL history.