TORONTO -- Connor McDavid, the face of the Edmonton Oilers, is delighted to have a teammate who is not opposed to getting in the faces of anybody who crosses his or his teammates' path.
The Oilers center said the arrival of rugged left wing Milan Lucic gives them a physical presence who can provide a measure of protection, among other things.
"It means so much," said McDavid, who was a guest instructor at a hockey school here Tuesday. "It kind of gives us that swagger, that meanness that we have been looking for. We tried to do that a little bit last year in adding a couple of bigger bodies and it definitely helped, but now you have the addition of Lucic and those guys we added before. We definitely have that mean streak that other teams won't want to be pushing us around."
Lucic, 28, signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Oilers on July 1 after scoring 20 goals and 55 points in 81 games for the Los Angeles Kings last season. Lucic, who spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins, is one of the NHL's premier power forwards, remaining effective and respected in a League shifting to speed and skill.
Video: Connor McDavid's evolution as an NHL star
McDavid said the fact Lucic (6-foot-3, 233 pounds) helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and led Vancouver of the Western Hockey League to the Memorial Cup championship in 2007 gives him instant credibility inside the Oilers locker room.
"We're a young team and he is a bit of an older guy who has won at every level," said McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft who had 48 points in 45 games last season. "That goes a long way. He brings that experience, but he also brings that size and calmness in the room that we have been looking for because we are such a young team. I think he's a great addition and something that we really need."
The Oilers are in the midst of a transformation by general manager Peter Chiarelli, who is in his second year on the job after an eight-year run in the same position with the Bruins. Despite having the No. 1 pick in the draft in four of the past seven years, Edmonton has failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 10 straight seasons since losing the Cup Final in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
The Oilers are out to eliminate talk that they are too small and thus unable to compete in the rugged Western Conference. That should not be the case moving forward; along with Lucic, Chiarelli added defenseman Adam Larsson (6-3, 205) and forwards Zack Kassian (6-3, 217) and Patrick Maroon (6-3, 230).
Video: Milan Lucic talks to the crew on NHL Tonight
Larsson, 23, arrived in a trade with the New Jersey Devils for left wing Taylor Hall, who led Edmonton in scoring last season and in three of the past four. It was a bold move by Chiarelli, but one that addressed what had been a thin defense.
"It's a hockey trade; something that we need," McDavid said. "We needed a defenseman, someone that can fit that role that we have always been looking for. Obviously, Larsson is a great player, a great D-man. He's a young D-man who is going to get even better in the League. I think everyone sees that. I think [Hall] is one of the best players in the League, certainly one of the best left wings in the League, and it [stinks] to see him go. He's a great friend and roommate of mine. [Hall] will help New Jersey and Larsson will help our team, so both teams will benefit."
McDavid's rookie season was hampered by a fractured clavicle in November. Fully healthy, he believes he and Lucic could form a productive partnership as linemates.
"I'm really excited to experience that," McDavid said. "I think it is going to be a really good experience, something we can both benefit from. He definitely makes players around him better and for me, if I get him the puck in good positions around the net, he's going to put it away. I think it is a situation we can both benefit from."