Elias, who rejected more money in the off-season to accept a US$42-million, seven-year contract to stay in New Jersey, replaces defenceman Scott Stevens. Stevens retired before the 2005-06 season because of problems with concussions. The Devils played without a captain last season.
"There is no question Patrik has demonstrated throughout the years that he is a leader of this team on and off the ice," president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a telephone interview from Raleigh, N.C. "He became the logical choice."
Elias was not immediately available for comment, but Lamoriello said that the 30-year-old felt honoured when he was told of the decision hours earlier.
Elias had 16 goals and 29 assists in 38 games last season. He missed the first half of the campaign while recovering from hepatitis, which he contracted while playing in Russia during the lockout season of 2004-05.
Elias is the seventh captain in Devils' history, following Don Lever, Mel Bridgman, Kirk Muller, Bruce Driver, Stevens and Scott Niedermayer.
Niedermayer, who signed as a free agent with Anaheim before the 2005-06 season, replaced Stevens for the second half of the 2003-04 season after Stevens was sidelined by a concussion.