From Rookie to Leader: Connor McDavid Next Oilers Captain?

Connor McDavid Oilers captain
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No pressure, kid.

Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid could be the next Oilers captain, joining a group of the youngest captains in NHL history.

NHL free agent frenzy

McDavid, 19, often shows the world why he is the newest face of the game. His sensational puck skills, hockey IQ, blazing speed, and all-around play are second to none. He can skate down the ice in the blink of an eye as well as stickhandle around defenders into a daze so bad that you’ll forget your name. He’s a generational talent, no doubt.

From Rookie to Leader: Connor McDavid Next Oilers Captain?

He scored 48 points in 45 games in his rookie season, on pace for over a point per game. By far he is the best player on his team.

There’s one problem, though.

His career is just 45 games old.

Wearing the “C” is a huge responsibility, no matter how great the player may be. Considering the fact that he hasn’t even played in a full NHL season is a bit premature too. There’s no denying that he’s captain material, but after only 45 games may be too soon to tell. He says that he can handle the task, but in all honesty, he isn’t going to say otherwise and risk the scrutiny.

McDavid would join the recent company of Gabriel Landeskog and Sidney Crosby as the youngest players to captain a team – both at the age of 19. Unlike the Oilers phenom, though, Landeskog and Crosby played in at least one full season prior to captaincy.

A Bleak Past, A Brighter Future

After all, the situation in Edmonton over the past handful of years has been such a mess. Any of the players could be shipped out at any moment, with exception of McDavid. Who else would make for good captain material? Jordan Eberle? Likely not. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? He’s injured too often to be a leader on the ice. There really is no other effective, core player that could usurp someone else for leadership. Coach Todd McLellan refused to rule out McDavid as a choice for the new leader role, thus resulting as a large hint in his favour.

McDavid serves as the best bet to be the next captain largely because his play on the ice speaks for itself. He leads by example. His work ethic and attitude are exactly what the Oilers need. Consider this: would anyone take Eberle serious if he is vocal on the bench but then looked uninvolved and mistake-prone during his shift? It speaks for itself. If a superstar player is giving their all, chances are, the team will rally around that.

Off-Season Changes

Of course, McDavid is going to making mistakes. His career is only 45 games young. Bringing in players like Milan Lucic, along with the rest of the supporting cast of veterans, will only help mold and develop McDavid as a player and person. Surely the organization plans to keep him there for a while so this is their opportunity to build a legacy for a long, long time.

The NHL has a history of promoting young stars into leaders of teams. Jonathan Toews and Vincent Lecavalier were also named captains at the ripe ages of 19 and 20.

What’s the common trend? They are all extremely successful players.

A New Era

Crosby, Toews, and Lecavalier all have their names etched on Lord Stanley. They are marquee players and are held in high regard. McDavid has the potential to join this elite club.

In the Ontario Hockey League, he captained the Erie Otters in 2014-15 due to his leadership qualities on and off the ice. He has been in the spotlight from preteen days; he can handle any pressure. McDavid is a disciplinarian of how to eat, sleep, and live like a true NHL player.

With the lack of success over the past decade, the Oilers really have nothing to lose by giving the captaincy to McDavid. Wayne Gretzky himself even suggests that the team should do so. This opportunity may allow for a player to grow and develop into one of the game’s greatest – he’s already on the cusp. There’s no point delaying the inevitable; this is McDavid’s team.

As Edmonton skates out for their first home game at the new Rogers Place arena on October 12, it would be fitting to see McDavid glide out donning the “C,” marking a new era in many ways.

The Oilers have plenty of tasks at hand but they are beginning to look more and more optimistic. If there’s ever a time to lead a team out of the fire, now is the time.

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