An 18-year-old forward from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., has been named the new captain of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings.
“It’s a huge honour,” Rhett Melnyk told reporters on Thursday after the announcement was made.
Melnyk is a key player on a team that is rebuilding after winning the WHL championship last year.
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The Oil Kings lost a number of their top players who graduated to the NHL in the off-season. The club subsequently traded other key players for younger ones whom the team could look towards the future with.
Melnyk was one of the players the Oil Kings acquired from the Tri-City Americans in the off-season when they traded forward Jalen Luypen.
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“(He’s been) one of our most consistent players all year,” Oil Kings general manager Kirt Hill said after Melnyk was given the “C” on his jersey. “With having a younger team, he’s one of the most experienced guys we have.
“He’s really confident in who he is as a person. He’s really consistent.”
Hill noted that not only has Melnyk displayed an impressive work ethic on the ice, the same approach extends to other areas, like working out in the gym.
Melnyk becomes the Oil Kings’ 15th captain in modern franchise history.
“(I) can’t wait to see what the future holds for us,” the player said of his new role as he tries to help the Oil Kings re-emerge as a force in junior hockey.
In 44 games with Edmonton this season, Melnyk has scored 11 goals and accumulated 12 assists.
The Oil Kings currently sit in last place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. The team’s next game is at home on Friday night against the Calgary Hitmen.