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World Championship

McDavid providing Canada with scoring, leadership at World Championship

Oilers center's improvement noticeable to teammates, coaches entering quarterfinals

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

HERNING, Denmark -- Connor McDavid is not just getting older, he's getting better.

The Edmonton Oilers center and captain for Canada at the 2018 IHF World Championship is fourth in the tournament in scoring with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) heading into the quarterfinal round on Thursday, when Canada will play Russia (10:15 a.m. ET).

McDavid had nine points (one goal, eight assists) at the 2016 World Championship in Russia. His goal was the winner in the gold-medal game against Finland.

The rise in productivity is a natural progression, suggested McDavid, now 21.

 

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"I think I'm just a couple years older and a couple more years experienced," he said. "I think that makes a lot of difference."

The difference has been noticeable to Bill Peters, Canada's coach in 2016 and again this year.

"He's just a special player. He has been for a long time," said Peters, who will get to see McDavid more often next season after being hired as coach of the Calgary Flames on April 23. "Everyone's been well aware of that as he's come up through the ranks, but he's just taking it to another level.

"He's even probably quicker with the puck than he was two years ago. He looks to get his own shot. He knows how to take over a game when the time is right and he's a very competitive guy. That's one thing people don't talk about a lot with Connor, but he's very competitive and understands what needs to be done at the right time."

Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly, who was a teammate of McDavid with Canada during the 2016 World Championship, sees it too.

"He's just more comfortable," O'Reilly said. "At first when you're young coming in, you don't know a lot to expect. After going through one before and winning and having those seasons under his belt … I don't want to say he's more outgoing but [he's] a little more comfortable. It's cool to see.

"As a player, too, he's just gotten better."

McDavid, who finished with 108 points (41 goals, 67 assists) with the Oilers this season to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer for the second straight season, is leading Canada in that regard. But it's not the only way he's led.

"I think he's done an unbelievable job," said St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, also a teammate of McDavid's on Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. "He's been in the League in Edmonton for a couple years now, and I think it's carried over. He's done a very good job in the room. All the guys respect him a ton, and he's extremely humble. It's a good combination.

"On the ice, that speaks for himself, his leadership."

Video: How do you think the IIHF Championship is going?

The soft-spoken McDavid hasn't needed to shout to command the attention of teammates. His non-vocal cues are enough to get the point across.

"He's not overly talkative. As a young guy he doesn't really need to," O'Reilly said. "He does so much speaking by the way he plays and prepares. You watch him every shift and he's just super-intense. It's admiring. All of us see that. You feed off it, his intensity. In the room he does say stuff at different times where he does say something small, but everyone listens. Definitely everyone respects him.

"He's a leader in so many different ways."

His play allows him to be.

McDavid is the reigning Hart Trophy winner, given to the NHL's most valuable player, and a winner of the Ted Lindsay Award, given annually to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by members of the NHL Players' Association.

"He's a lot of fun to watch, for us as well," Parayko said. "It's pretty special.

"He's one of the best in the game -- if not the best, some people will say. He's got elite talent. He does everything at full speed, which is extremely dangerous. He takes two or three strides and he's at full speed. He can do anything he wants to do at full speed."

Those actions speak louder than words.

"He's great, but he's a guy who leads by example," Peters said. "You just have to follow his example. He's hard on pucks, doesn't turn pucks over and works hard away from the puck.

"That's how he leads."

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