The Atlanta Thrashers named star Ilya Kovalchuk captain late Sunday during a team charity event.
Kovalchuk, 25, becomes the seventh captain in franchise history. The Thrashers have been without an official captain since Bobby Holik departed in the offseason for New Jersey.
The forward has 16 goals and 27 assists through 43 games. The Russian was selected first overall in the NHL draft by Atlanta and has notched 270 goals and 509 points in 509 games. He has twice scored more than 50 goals in a season.
"Ilya has earned the opportunity to take a larger leadership role on this team and has grown into this position over his six-plus seasons as a member of the Thrashers," said general manager Don Waddell in a statement. "We’re very pleased, and excited for Ilya, that his fellow alternate captains approached us and felt he should be given the responsibility at this time.
"We’re confident that he’ll embrace it and represent the organization and his teammates appropriately."
Kovalchuk was the lone representative from the team chosen last week for the Eastern Conference at the NHL all-star game on Jan. 25 in Montreal.
It is the third time the sniper was chosen for the all-star game.