McDavid has ‘super-motivated’ Oilers skating early

Edmonton returns the core of its roster this season, which includes forwards Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman and Evander Kane. The Oilers traded forwards Kailer Yamamoto and Klim Kostin to the Detroit Red Wings, making room under the NHL salary cap for forward Connor Brown, who was a junior teammate of McDavid with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League.

Brown signed a one-year, $4 million contract with Edmonton, coming off a knee injury, which limited him to four games with the Washington Capitals last season.

“I’m really excited about that, I don’t think you can ever have too many guys like ‘Brownie’,” McDavid said. “I think he plays the game very similar to Zach Hyman, just very tenacious. He’s a good guy in the room, super competitive, just wants to win at all costs and you can never have too many of those guys.”

Brown, 29, played on a line with McDavid in Erie and the two combined for 227 points in 2013-14. Brown had 128 points (45 goals, 83 assists) in 68 games and McDavid had 99 points (28 goals, 71 assists) in 56 games as a 16-year-old. McDavid believes the two can rediscover their junior chemistry in the NHL.

“I do think it’s possible,” McDavid said. “He’s coming off a very significant knee injury, so I think there has to be a little bit of grace period for him, but with that being said, I think he looks great. He’s put in a lot of hard work; he’s moving well and I’m sure he’s going to be great right off the bat.”

Another significant offseason change for Edmonton was the hiring of McDavid’s former agent Jeff Jackson as CEO of hockey operations. Jackson left his agency, Wasserman Hockey, to take over the position with the Oilers, replacing Bob Nicholson, who became a special adviser.

“I’m excited about ‘Jacks’ taking the role,” McDavid said. “I’ve worked with Jacks since I was 15 years old, and I know what he thinks and how he sees teams and organizations and all that. Obviously, he knows our group in and out with me being here and paying attention to what the Oilers have been up to, so he knows the Oilers well.”

McDavid has three years left on his contract, while Draisaitl is going into the second-to-last year of his deal. McDavid won the scoring race last season with 153 points (64 goals, 89 assists); Draisaitl finished second with 128 points (52 goals, 76 assists). Both are eligible to become unrestricted free agents at the end of their contracts, which adds a sense of urgency to trying to win the Stanley Cup within that time frame.

“I feel a sense of urgency every single year, it doesn’t matter about contracts or anything like that,” McDavid said. “I feel like our opportunity is here now, just with the age of our group and the stages that we’ve kind of gone through and steps. I feel really good about our group. I feel like everybody is in their prime.”

McDavid and Draisaitl spent the summer training together before coming to Edmonton to prepare for the season.

“Leon’s had an absolutely amazing summer,” McDavid said. “He’s put a lot of work into it, I know he’s super motivated, he looks great, and I would expect him to have a very good year.”

Originally Appeared Here

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