Newspaper article The Canadian Press

McDavid Says Team North America's Youth Will Be an Asset at World Cup

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

McDavid Says Team North America's Youth Will Be an Asset at World Cup

Article excerpt

McDavid says youth is asset at World Cup

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MONTREAL - Connor McDavid believes Team North America's youth will be the group's main asset at the World Cup of Hockey, not its Achilles' heel.

Last year's first-overall draft pick was optimistic following North America's 90-minute practice at Bell Centre on Monday -- the team's first of 13 practices ahead of their tournament-opener against Finland on Sept. 18.

"Everyone has us pegged as the underdogs and we'll happily take that," said the 19-year-old McDavid. "We're going to surprise some teams. We have a lot of speed and skill.

"That's definitely our character trait. We just have to use it to our advantage."

North America, which is made of the top players under 23 years old, is in a pool with veteran filled teams Sweden, Finland and Russia.

McDavid's sentiment that skill and speed will be a game-changer for Team North America was echoed throughout the dressing room.

"What's going to help us is how fast we are," said Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "We have youth on this team, so we should be able to jump into things right away."

Added 19-year-old Jack Eichel: "We're young and we can use that to our advantage. We can play with a lot of pace."

Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon suggested the tournament's format -- three group-stage games followed by a semifinal and a best-of-three final series -- was to North America's advantage.

"This isn't a full season or playoffs," said MacKinnon, one of 11 Canadians on Team North America. "This is one-and-done. We have the talent and ability to beat anyone. I don't think there's a more skilled team than ours."

Head coach Todd McLellan tested out line combinations for the first time on Monday after weeks of brainstorming.

McDavid played with Mark Scheifele of the Jets and Jonathan Drouin of the Lightning. Johnny Gaudreau was on a line with Eichel and Brandon Saad, while Auston Matthews practised with MacKinnon and Nugent-Hopkins. …

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