CAMROSE -- He captained the rookie team when they took the ice for the first game at the Edmonton Oilers rookie tournament in Camrose.
Odds are good Colin McDonald will be captain of the team in Springfield.
"We're expecting big things out of Colin this season," said Springfield Falcons head coach Jeff Truitt. "He came into camp in great shape. He's on a mission. He shoots the puck extremely well and plays a good two-way game.
"His shot is his asset for sure, but he's skating really well. He's worked hard in the off-season and you can see the dividends right now."
McDonald, 23, was the Oilers second pick (51st overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
He played four years of college hockey in Providence before moving on to play with the Falcons last season. In 73 games, the native of New Haven, Conn., scored 12 goals and added 11 assists.
"He's got the capability of putting up some big numbers this season," Truitt said.
"We want him to build on some things from last year. He's looking for that too. I thought last year as time went on he was figuring things out away from the puck a bit more. I know in college he was a shooter, he would get pucks around the net and was expected to shoot.
"Last year, he was relied on not only offensively but defensively too. If it was late in the game he would be a guy that we would have out there. He's really taken a lot of pride in that role, so we're getting the best of both worlds and I think he's making some great strides."
McDonald is expected to get an invite to main camp, which begins with medicals tomorrow.
However, he's a longshot to make the Oilers this year, instead being pencilled in as a leader for the AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Regardless, he would still like to leave after having made a lasting impression.
"Having that year behind me has made a big difference," McDonald said. "I can just tell that by being here this year. As a college guy you can't come to these camps until you're signed. I stayed at school, then when I came out here last year and I struggled a bit.
"I did OK at rookie camp, but then at main camp I just tried to hold my own and I was in awe a little bit. This year I want to get up there, play as best I can and maybe get into a couple of exhibition games," McDonald said.