TORONTO — Connor McDavid won't turn 20 until January, but the prospective Edmonton Oilers captain doesn't want anyone thinking of him as a teenager anymore.
The bar is already set incredibly high for the 19-year-old this season and while he wouldn't divulge details on personal goals, McDavid did offer some insight into his own expectations for his sophomore campaign.
"I just want to go in and have a good (training) camp and show everyone that I'm not some 18-year-old kid anymore," said McDavid on Monday morning at the annual Biosteel Camp.
McDavid will first represent Team North America at the World Cup next month and then try to eclipse the dizzying performance he put on last year for Edmonton. Though he missed 37 games due to a fractured clavicle, McDavid put up 48 points in 45 games for a fourth-place finish in the rookie scoring race.
He performed on a level not seen from an 18-year-old since Sidney Crosby, also a much-hyped prospect who posted 102 points in his debut season for the Penguins.
McDavid is already the presumed leader of the Oilers and there's talk in Edmonton that the Richmond Hill, Ont., native, will assume the club's vacant captaincy. Crosby, too, became Pittsburgh's captain when he was 19, though he had completed his second NHL campaign.
"It would mean so much," McDavid said of becoming the first Oiler to wear the C since Andrew Ference. "It would definitely be an accomplishment that I would be the most proud of. But that's still to be determined and I don't want to talk about it too much or anything like that."
More important for him and the Oilers is breaking a decade-long spell without a post-season appearance. Edmonton hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2006, last in the Western Conference last season despite the notable additions of McDavid, head coach Todd McLellan, and Cam Talbot, a No. 1 goaltender who offered rare stability in the crease.
In hopes of snapping that slide, the Oilers reshaped their roster this off-season.
Taylor Hall, a former No. 1 overall pick and the team's leading scorer last season (65 points), was dealt to New Jersey for Adam Larsson, a 23-year-old expected to fill a prominent void on defence. Edmonton also went big in free agency, signing six-foot-three, 233-pound bruiser Milan Lucic to a seven-year contract worth $42 million, and drafted Finnish sensation Jesse Puljajarvi with the fourth overall pick at the June draft.
McDavid believes the Oilers are a vastly different group after the changes, bigger especially with the off-season additions. He's hopeful the alterations will produce better results.
"Of course losing Taylor is a big loss but you add in a guy that is probably one of the toughest guys in the league, if not the toughest guy in the league," McDavid said, referring to Lucic, who had 20 goals and 55 points playing for the Los Angeles Kings last year. "And add in a defenceman like Larsson, I think (he's) pretty underrated. You don't know how good he is until you've actually played against him on the ice."
Captain or not, the Oilers can expect McDavid to lead their group on the ice.
He's a legitimate candidate to not only pace his own team in scoring, but perhaps the entire league. Expectations have always been high that way for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft. Such a prospect would not be without precedent either for a player of his talents and age.
Crosby, then 19, recorded 120 points to win the Art Ross trophy in his second NHL season.
McDavid, reserved in public settings, wouldn't get into accomplishments like that for the coming year. He set goals, yes, but opted against sharing them.
"Definitely have high hopes for this year," McDavid said.
Then he took to the ice at St. Michael's College School Arena, the lone participant in Oilers orange, standing out as always.