The youngest team in the World Cup of Hockey will be led by the NHL’s budding superstar. Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid has been named captain of Team North America, the squad comprised of Canadian and American players age 23 and younger.
At 19, McDavid is one of the youngest players on the young team, but he is already under consideration for the Oilers’ vacant captaincy. He put up 48 points in an injury-shortened rookie season last year and is currently slotted as the first line center for North America.
The leadership group will also consist of Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier and defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers, who will both serve as alternate captains.
Though this is a team that is split almost down the middle between American and Canadians, it’s an all-Canadian leadership group. The team also has a predominantly Canadian coaching staff led by McDavid’s full-time coach with the Oilers, Todd McLellan. It’s not a big surprise to see McLellan go with one of the players he knows best to lead the team. He also gets a free preview of McDavid’s capability with the “C” on his jersey.
Additionally, Couturier is one of the oldest and most experienced NHL players on the roster with five NHL seasons under his belt already and Ekblad appears set to be the team’s No. 1 defenseman. The choices all make sense, even if it is a little surprising not to see any American representation among the captains.
This team is going to be a lot of fun to watch and all eyes are going to be on McDavid. He absolutely torched the NHL upon his return from the fractured clavicle that cost him almost half of his first NHL season. He is a big reason so many people are coming around on North America as a legitimate contender in this tournament.
They’re still an underdog compared to the consensus top-two teams like Canada and Sweden, but this team very much has a chance. They’re going to need their newly-minted captain to have a big tournament for that to happen, but few players are better suited to rise to the occasion than McDavid.
Source: CBS Sports / World Cup of Hockey: Oilers’ Connor McDavid named captain of Team North America