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Oilers name Connor McDavid captain

19-year-old is youngest player in NHL history to get honor

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid became the youngest captain in NHL history Wednesday.

McDavid (19 years, 266 days) was named Oilers captain, and forwards Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were named alternate captains for the 2016-17 NHL season.

"I'm very honored and humbled to be able to wear the 'C' for this organization," McDavid said. "There are so many good leaders in this room, and to be able to represent them is definitely a good feeling."

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: McDavid joins a legendary group of #Oilers captains.

Read more: McDavid takes over as 15th Oilers captain

McDavid is the Oilers' 15th captain. Edmonton did not have a captain last season, electing to use a rotation of alternates instead. Defenseman Andrew Ference was the most recent captain but relinquished the position prior to last season because of his diminishing role on the ice.

McDavid is 20 days younger than Gabriel Landeskog was when he was named captain of the Colorado Avalanche in 2012. Sidney Crosby was 19 years, 297 days when he was named captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007, and Vincent Lecavalier was 19 years, 315 days when named captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000.

"No, it doesn't feel overwhelming at all; I just feel normal about it," McDavid said. "I'm very humbled to wear it and excited about it. But having the support of the teammates and all that, that's the main thing, and that's what makes it so much easier."

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: "There's no better guy to lead this team moving forward than one of the best players in the league." @ctalbot33 on Captain @cmcdavid97

McDavid was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and had 16 goals and 48 points in 45 games last season. He missed 37 games with a fractured clavicle sustained Nov. 3.

McLellan said McDavid began displaying leadership characteristics after the injury.

"When he returned last year to the lineup, that first game back, he showed that he was ready to take charge and he was ready to play," McLellan said. "At that point, his play evolved, he was confident, the way he carried himself in the locker room, the way he interacted with some of his teammates, throughout some of the meetings at the end of the season. Players that aren't ready don't share a lot, and he was very open with us and we were very open with him. At that point, it was real evident he was ready to lead this group."

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: Your 2016-17 #Oilers captains!

McDavid was captain of Erie in the Ontario Hockey League and Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

"I think that was almost even more difficult of a job than this," McDavid said of his role on the 23-or-younger team. "I was still trying to get to know the guys all at the same time. Here in Edmonton, everyone is so close and I definitely feel more comfortable in this dressing room than in that one. I almost feel more comfortable wearing it here than there."

McDavid joins a list of Oilers captains that includes Hockey Hall of Fame members Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.

Gretzky was 22 when he took over as captain from veteran defenseman Lee Fogolin in 1983 and served for five seasons before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Messier followed for three seasons before being traded to the New York Rangers.

"I'm so honored to join that kind of group and I'm very proud to be a part of that, and the list of names of guys here in Edmonton that have worn the 'C' is unbelievable," McDavid said. "So I'm very honored and humbled to join that group as well."

Edmonton hasn't qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006 and will rely heavily on McDavid to help end the drought.

"He's mature beyond his years," McLellan said. "He's dealt with all of you [media] since he was 14. 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 is an ambassador of the game, which I think you have to be as a captain. He puts himself out there with the fans and the young kids and he understands his role. Sidney Crosby and a couple of others have gone through that, they do a tremendous job, and I see a lot of that in him."

McDavid admitted he is not the most vocal player in the locker room and will lead by example. He is expected to debut as captain Thursday in a preseason game against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place.

"I think I'm a guy that can relate to everyone and is fairly close with everyone on the team and can try to help bring guys together," McDavid said. "That's what I tried to focus on when I was in Erie and I felt everyone was a part of the team. I definitely try to lead that way; I'm not the big rah-rah guy."

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