Let’s look at how the NHL’s youngest captains have fared


The Edmonton Oilers did what pretty much everybody expected them to do on Wednesday when they announced that Connor McDavid, at 19 years and 273 days old, would be the team’s first captain since Andrew Ference held the position two years ago. That made McDavid the youngest captain in NHL history. Not only is he the youngest captain in league history in terms of his age, he gets the position after having played in only 45 games.

It’s a big honor, but pretty much everybody in Edmonton seems to think he is ready for it. (Heck, even former Oiler Taylor Hall kept saying this summer that McDavid is ready for it.)

“There’s no better guy to lead this team moving forward than one of the most exciting and best players in the league, said goalie Cam Talbot, via the Oilers’ website“I don’t think they could have chosen a better guy for the job.”

Defenseman Darnell Nurse echoed a similar sentiment, saying, “You see every single night he goes out there and leads by example. He’s not afraid to say something when it needs to be said. For everyone in the room, he’s a great example of how you go out there and play every night. He takes it to a new level and definitely brings energy every night that we can feed off of.”

So now that he gets to wear the “C” before his 20th birthday, let’s take a quick look at how some of the other youngest captains in NHL history have fared, how tricky it can be to define their success (or lack of it), and whether or not this will work for the Oilers and McDavid.

Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning

Age: 19 years, 315 days

Like McDavid, Lecavalier was a No. 1 overall pick and entered the league with massive expectations (though not quite on the same scale as McDavid). His rookie season was not quite as dominant, playing only 13 minutes per night and recording only 28 points. Even so, the Lightning named him their captain the following season (1999-00) along with veterans Bill Houlder and Chris Gratton (yes, three captains).

The following year Lecavalier was the only captain on the team and then had that responsibility taken away in 2001-02 when the Lightning went with no captain. Following that captainless season, Dave Andreychuk took over the role for three years (including the 2003-04 Stanley Cup season) until Tim Taylor took over for him for two years starting in 2006-07. It wasn’t until the 2008-09 season that Lecavalier was once again named captain of the Lightning, a role he maintained throughout the rest of his career with the team until he was bought out of his contract following the 2012-13 season.

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

Age: 20 years, 57 days

 Landeskog burst onto the NHL scene in 2011-12 and not only put a 50-point season on the board, but also demonstrated a two-way game that was well beyond his years for the Avalanche. The team responded the following season by naming him the captain, a position he still holds today. The Avalanche haven’t had a ton of success as a team during his run, and the “core” has been called out at times in recent years for the team’s failings on the ice, but the issue in Colorado is still the fact the core has very little help around them in terms of forward depth and the defense.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Age: 20 years, 59 days

In the mid-2000s the Penguins went through a four-season stretch where the Mario Lemieux-Jaromir Jagr era was closing and the Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin era had yet to begin. The result was a lot of losing and a lot of ugly hockey. But the arrival of Crosby in 2005-06 started to change that. During his first two years on the team the Penguins had no captain until he was given the responsibility prior to the 2007-08 season, which would go on to be the first of the Penguins’ three Stanley Cup Final appearances with Crosby. He won his first Stanley Cup at the age of 21. Between that Cup, and the one the Penguins won in 2016, there were a lot of disappointing postseason appearances and as is always the case the “core” took a lot of that blame. But it again comes back to depth and what’s around those top players. When those areas improved, so did the team success.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Age: 20 years, 164 days

It hasn’t taken Toews long to become known as the greatest winner in hockey today. Captain serious. The guy that scores the big goals and wills teams to victory. Three Stanley Cups in six years will do that. Sometimes it’s a little over the top because without the supporting cast that he has had around him in Chicago none of those championships are happening.

But that is pretty much the lesson we should take away from these young superstars being named captain so early in their career.

They are going to be great players whether they have a letter on the front of their jersey or not.

But they will only be viewed as a success from a leadership standpoint if their teams win, and they can’t do that without the necessary talent around them. Crosby and Toews aren’t multiple Stanley Cup champions if they get dealt the same hand Landeskog has been dealt in Colorado. If Landeskog goes to Chicago and plays for that powerhouse team, his reputation is probably completely different than it is now.

And that’s pretty much what we should expect from the McDavid-as-captain experience in Edmonton. If they put a good team around him, his leadership will be praised.

If they don’t … well … you know the drill.

Darcy Kuemper slams Matthew Tkachuk to ice, nearly sparks goalie fight (Video)

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You can add Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper to the lengthy list of players around the NHL that has snapped in the presence of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.

Late in the second period of the Coyotes’ 3-0 win on Saturday afternoon, Kuemper came to the defense of his teammate, defenseman Jason Demers, and slammed Tkachuk to the ice setting off a chaotic line brawl that nearly ended with a goalie fight.

It all started when Demers knocked Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau to the ice away from the play.

Gaudreau responded by skating up behind Demers and cross-checking him in the back, knocking him to the ice. While Demers was down on the ice, Gaudreau and Tkachuk each got in a little extra shot and it was at that point that Kuemper decided to enter the situation.

Once that happened, Flames goalie David Rittich stormed the length of the ice and tried to come to the defense of his teammate. The two goalies never actually fought, but they did both receive their share of penalties. Kuemper was assessed two roughing minors, while Rittich was given a two-minute penalty for leaving the crease to join an altercation.

Kuemper now has 20 penalty minutes since the start of the 2017-18 season which is by far the highest total of any goalie in the league. Rittich (now with 10) is the only other goalie with more than eight.

Tkachuk was also given four minutes for roughing, while Gaudreau received two minutes for cross-checking and Demers was assessed two for roughing.

You can see the entire sequence in the video above.

As for the actual game itself, it was a huge day for Kuemper as he stopped 38 shots to record the shutout and help the Coyotes improve to 12-7-2 on the season.

It is his second shutout of the season and improved his save percentage to an outstanding .937 in 14 appearances.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.


Paul Bissonnette to get chance to back up lacrosse boast


VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Paul Bissonnette will have a chance to back up his lacrosse boast.

Two days after tweeting that he could make a National Lacrosse League team without having ever played a game, the former NHL player signed a professional tryout Friday with the Vancouver Warriors.

”Bissonnette will be given every opportunity to make the Vancouver Warriors,” Warriors coach Chris Gill said. ”Paul talks a pretty big game. Let’s see if he can back it up and be a part of our team.”

The 34-year-old Bissonnette, now the radio color commentator for the Arizona Coyotes, played 202 NHL games with Pittsburgh and Arizona. He had seven goals, 15 assists and 340 penalty minutes in his six NHL seasons.

He’s gained notoriety more for his outspoken and often humorous tweets commenting on hockey and others sports.

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena on Nov. 22 and 23.

The Buzzer: Bruins end slump; Blackwood baffles Penguins

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Three Stars

1. Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils

If the Devils are going to dig themselves out of the big hole they made to start 2019-20, it’s highly likely that Blackwood will be the goalie who helps them do it.

Lately, the 22-year-old has been rotating nice wins (.968 save percentage or higher in three victories) with tough losses (.889 or lower in three defeats). Friday represented one of the nicest wins yet, as he stopped 38 out of 39 of the Penguins’ shots to help the Devils steal a 2-1 decision.

Natural Stat Trick places the Penguins’ expected goals at 3.55, and their high-danger chances at 14 at all strengths, so Blackwood was the clear difference-maker in that narrow triumph.

2. Tomas Tatar, Montreal Canadiens

The Habs got revenge on the scoreboard after Alex Ovechkin landed that devastating hit on Jonathan Drouin, and Tatar was a big catalyst for that rally.

Yes, his goal was an empty-netter, but Tatar already had a top-three-worthy night when he piled up three assists. If you’d prefer his linemate Phillip Danault (1G, 2A, nothing on that ENG), that’s fine, too. Being boiling up some righteous indignation, the plus side of Drouin getting shaken up might be that Claude Julien went back to Tatar, Danault, and Brendan Gallagher as a line ever so briefly. Via Natural Stat Trick, they generated two five-on-five goals for in just 42 seconds of TOI together. Piping-hot take: maybe keep them with each other a little bit longer?

Overall, Tatar was an absurd possession beast on Friday, generating a ridiculous 80% Fenwick Four. By any measure, he was spectacular, and there’s a compelling case for Tatar being placed above Blackwood as the top star of the night.

3. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

Attempting to defense the Bruins’ top line must be agonizing, as Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak just bring so many strengths to the table. It might be especially frustrating to try to contain Marchand, though.

Not only will he trash talk you (and back it up), but he’s also very smart and elusive, finding openings even when there’s just a bit of space to work with. Marchand played a big role in Boston ending its winning streak, and also extending Toronto’s torment, by scoring two goals, including the game-winner.

But, yeah, that troll game is also there.

Highlight of the Night

Zach Werenski had been off to a bit of a slow start scoring-wise for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, but the 22-year-old is gaining some serious steam lately. Werenski scored the overtime game-winner for Columbus on Friday, extending his goal streak to three games (three goals, one assist).

(Some might vote for the Ovechkin hit as the clip of the night, though.)


  • Via NHL PR: Zdeno Chara became the fourth defenseman in NHL history aged 42 or older to generate a three-game point streak. Chris Chelios has done it twice, and holds the best run with a four-game tear. The other two (Doug Harvey, Tim Horton) make it quite the list.
  • Another aging defenseman stat from NHL PR: Shea Weber became the third active NHL defenseman to generate at least a five-game point streak at age 34 or older. Chara did it in 2011-12, while Mark Giordano has two streaks of seven games. Weber also scored his 209th goal, placing him 18th all-time among NHL defensemen, via Sportsnet.
  • Saucy one from Sportsnet: the Maple Leafs and Oilers have the same point percentage (.531) in 64 games since Jan. 1, and Edmonton actually has one more win (30 to 29).


BOS 4 – TOR 2
NJD 2 – PIT 1
MTL 5 – WSH 2
CBJ 3 – STL 2 (OT)
OTT 2 – PHI 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Alex Ovechkin lights up Habs’ Drouin with huge hit

via NBC Sports Washington

Alex Ovechkin is known for scoring goals (my personal favorite, which was nearly replicated by a Penguins prospect), but the Washington Capitals superstar is so fun to watch because he’s also perfectly willing to throw his body around for a big check. It’s one of those things that made you believe that maybe he’d wear down, yet that Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin received a painful reminder that you need to keep your head on a swivel when Ovechkin’s on the ice, as the Capitals winger leveled Drouin with a huge hit on Friday.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Drouin was shaken up almost as much by the second impact:

Drouin left immediately for the locker room, but he’s taken some shifts afterward, so he might be OK … we’ll have to see.

There’s at least some debate about the legality of the hit, for what it’s worth:

Sometimes big hits like that light a fire under teams. Maybe Ovechkin was hoping it would do so for Washington, but instead Montreal might channeled that anger into getting even on the scoreboard, as they rattled off a 4-0 lead in response, and ended up winning 5-2.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.