The Edmonton Oilers won’t commit to who will be the team’s next captain, not publicly at least, but fans can expect there to be one at the start of the upcoming season.
“We’ll have a captain,” Todd McLellan said Wednesday at the annual Mark Spector Celebrity Golf Classic.
Edmonton didn’t have a captain last season, instead several players were assistant captains.
When pressed if Connor McDavid will be the next player to wear a ‘C’ McLellan simply repeated his answer, accompanied with a laugh.
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The Oilers bench boss discussed several other topics surrounding the team, including the trade in June that saw star winger Taylor Hall get moved to New Jersey for young defenceman Adam Larsson.
McLellan said he was in full support of the deal.
“We had to make some changes to our hockey club and Taylor was the price we had to pay to get a defenceman,” McLellan said. “Losing a player of his quality, doesn’t matter if you’re the Edmonton Oilers or the Pittsburgh Penguins, he’s a hard guy to replace.”
“He had been the fabric of the Oilers organization for many years. He gave us everything he possibly had to try to lead the team towards success and we will miss him.”
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McLellan isn’t making any predictions about the points Larsson will put up, but the Oilers’ coach believes the 23-year-old will be a d-man who faces the opponents top forwards and will log heavy minutes.
“He doesn’t get as much attention as maybe some others do and that’s okay by us. He’ll quietly come in and do his thing. We think he can play 20, 22 minutes a night against the top level competition,” McLellan said.
“Is he going to be a (Kris) Letang type player where he puts up 70 points? We don’t expect him to do that. We think he can be a little more like Marc Édouard Vlasic and play very good minutes against the other teams top players and play consistently.”
There was speculation, perhaps a belief, that Nail Yakupov would be traded this off season. The former first overall pick hasn’t been so far. McLellan is open to the idea of Yakupov returning to the team and giving him a chance to be an important asset.
“I believe in giving people opportunities to recover, to bring their game. I know Yak has worked extremely hard. He’s done some things he hasn’t in the past throughout the summer, training in different areas,” McLellan said.
“When he comes back, if that’t he case, I want him to have success.”