As the Pittsburgh Penguins are in the midst of their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship, their players are in the process of enjoying their time with Lord Stanley’s Trophy. And with the likes of center Sidney Crosby leading the way on the Penguins roster, they’ll be heading into the 2017-2018 National Hockey League season as title contenders once again. But whereas the Pens and Chicago Blackhawks have been the class of the NHL this decade, who will be ready to be the league’s next dominant team? That answer could possibly be in Western Canada.
This past season saw the Edmonton Oilers reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and in the process they were able to create a huge buzz for their fan base. It’s not that the Oilers were just not making the playoffs as they were one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League. Between 2010 and 2015, Edmonton gained the first overall pick in the NHL Draft four times, but they were unable to reverse the tide of futility until they finally lucked out in 2015 when they selected center Connor McDavid.
As a rookie, McDavid appeared in 45 games for the Oilers as he produced 48 points to finish third in the Calder Trophy voting as the National Hockey League’s top rookie. This past season McDavid would appear in all 82 games for Edmonton as his 70 assists and 100 points led the NHL. In the playoffs the Oilers would knock off the San Jose Sharks in the first round, while giving the Anaheim Ducks all that they could handle in the second round before exiting stage right in seven games. And even in defeat, the Oilers gave their followers a reason to believe for the first time in a long time.
That new found belief took the next step earlier this week when McDavid won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the MVP of the National Hockey League. McDavid became the first Oilers player to win the award since Mark Messier in 1990 as he was a part of one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history which included Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, and Jari Kurri which led to five Stanley Cup Championships. And now as McDavid has helped the Oilers turn the corner, could Lord Stanley’s Cup be ready to return to Edmonton soon with him leading the way?
McDavid is in that rare air as he makes the folks around him better. This past season the Oilers were +27 when McDavid was on the ice, while the team’s win total jumped by 16 which lets you know of his importance to the team.
Aside from McDavid the Oilers have other key contributors such as center Leon Draisaitl, right winger Jordan Eberle,, and goalie Cam Talbot as the fortunes of the Oilers franchise have definitely reversed. Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli will soon have to lock up McDavid and Draisaitl to long-term contracts which should be a no-brainer; especially since Edmonton has roughly $25 million in cap space heading into next season. And as the National Hockey League’s Draft is taking place this weekend in Chicago, the Oilers have the opportunity to add some depth which is the first time that this could be said in a very long time.