World Cup: McLellan to coach Oiler-centric Team North America

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The North American team at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will have a decidedly Edmonton feel.

On Friday, the squad — to be comprised of players aged 23 and younger — announced that Oilers head coach Todd McLellan would serve as the bench boss for the tournament.

The announcement was made by McLellan’s boss in Edmonton (general manager Peter Chiarelli, also serving Team North America’s co-GM), and in conjunction with the unveiling of the club’s management staff.

Which, you guessed it, also has Oiler ties.

Adam Graves, who won a Stanley Cup with Edmonton in 1990, has been named as special assistant to Chiarelli and fellow co-GM Stan Bowman. Graves, currently working in a business operations role with the Rangers, will work alongside player personnel directors Pat Verbeek and Paul Fenton, and director of hockey ops Ryan Jankowski.

Verbeek and Fenton are considered two of better assistant GMs in hockey.

Verbeek serves under Steve Yzerman in Tampa and previously worked in a scouting capacity; Fenton is regarded as one of the league’s best right-hand men, having spent the last 10 years as David Poile’s assistant in Nashville.

Jankowski, a former assistant GM with the Islanders, currently works as Hockey Canada’s director of player personnel.

Oh, and just to continue with the Edmonton theme from above, the Oilers link to Team North America extends beyond coaching and management.

Last month, NHL.com projected that two of their star youngsters — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid — would make the team, while defensemen Griffin Reinhart and Darnell Nurse are also eligible for selection.