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Todd McLellan to coach Team North America at World Cup

Team North America has named Todd McLellan as its head coach for the 2016 World Cup.

The management group that already includes Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli and Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman will also expand to add Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Pat Verbeek, New York Rangers executive Adam Graves and Hockey Canada director of player personnel Ryan Jankowski.

"We are excited to name our head coach and management team for our World Cup squad," Chiarelli said in a statement. "They all know what it takes to win at the highest level and we're looking forward to working together for next September's competition."

In picking McLellan, Chiarelli is tapping a coach he not only already works closely with, but also one who has close ties with major players on the team. To be eligible to play for Team North America, players have to be 23 or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016.

That means McLellan will likely be coaching at least two Oilers in center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and rookie Connor McDavid.

"They want to prove their worth in the league and around the world. I think they'll be viewed as an underdog team, which will take a little pressure off them," McLellan said. "I don't think there will be anyone who wants to lose to the young ones. With that in mind, they're all going to be motivated."

McLellan coached Team Canada to a gold medal in the 2015 world championships in Prague, its first gold medal in the event since 2007.

This year marked McLellan's first behind the bench with the Oilers after seven seasons as the coach in San Jose, where he posted a record of 311-163-66 in 540 games. With San Jose, McLellan won the Presidents' Trophy in 2008-09, claimed three division titles and advanced to the Western Conference finals in consecutive seasons (2009-10, 2010-11).

"It's exciting, but it's so far off," McLellan said of coaching Team North America. "We have so much work to do in Edmonton that this is off in the distance."