What if Connor McDavid can't change Oilers' destiny?

Connor McDavid is on pace to be the first player with a 150-point season since Mario Lemieux tallied 161 in 1995-96 but the overall flawed Edmonton Oilers also look destined to miss the playoffs.

Video Transcript

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: I don't think people are more mad about the fact that they're in this second wild card spot behind Calgary, because again, Connor McDavid is on pace for the first 103-point season in over-- in over 25 years. Draisaitl is having a good year, even though he looks a bit off right now, and it's the same mistakes repeating himself over, and over, and over again. Holes in the blue line, depth scoring is an issue. It's Stuart Skinner doing all he can and not getting enough support in front of him.

And it's like, at what point does management not get frustrated with this? Because you should not be barely above the Blues for a wild card spot. You should be where the Kraken are or the Kings are. You shouldn't be struggling to get into the playoffs one more time in you're not a Draisaitl and you're a McDavid.

If they miss the playoffs this year, if they do, you've got to get rid of Ken Holland, you've got to get rid of Bob Nicholson. Those two should be on Monster.ca for a job come June if they miss the playoffs. I'm serious.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: This man said Monster.ca. He didn't even say [INAUDIBLE].

OMAR: I agree. I think it's the fact that we are in another year of Connor McDavid where he is just destroying the league again, again. They just made the Western Conference Final and we're sitting here January 2023 asking, not just us, many people, it's active discussions on sports shows, will the Edmonton Oilers make the playoffs? That's embarrassing.

I can't-- and people are trying to say like, oh, well, the Evander Kane injury really, really threw things off. Why the hell is the entire season of Edmonton being thrown at the hands of an Evander Kane injury?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That is true. It's a very fair point.

OMAR: The issues have been there for the longest time. The defense has been wonky. The goaltending has been wonky. You signed a goalie to a $5 million cap and contract, and you don't trust him in the frickin' net. And then you play the Stuart Skinner kid, who's been OK, and now he's having moments of looking kind of roller coastery, and the team in front of them can't-- there's not much support there.

You look at the frickin' hockey reference, McDavid and Draisaitl are suddenly killing it, Nugent-Hopkins is having a good season, Hyman is having a good season, and then the drop. It goes from-- OK, it goes from McDavid 77, then Draisaitl to 62, then Hyman and Nugent-Hopkins have 48, and then it's a drop to 29 with Tyson Barrie. That's a problem.

And it's not a new problem. Man, I-- man, if I was an Oilers fan, I'd be fuming. And again, I'm not trying to rip on the team. I know I'm a Leafs fan and this comes off as ripping on the team. I genuinely want Connor McDavid to be playing meaningful hockey every single year.

The dude's going to win the Art or he may not, because they're not going to be in the playoffs. Like, it's unbelievable that we're at this point and we don't know. They should be first in the Pacific easily.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Can I-- can I offer a counterpoint to all of this?

OMAR: Yeah.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Around this time last year, I feel like we might have been saying the same things about the Edmonton Oilers. I feel like we might have been. I think we were looking at the goaltending situation, we were looking at what the hell they were going to do, and then they decided to sign Evander Kane, and we were not fans of that decision. And it's totally understandable that we should all still feel very weird about the fact that Evander Kane is [INAUDIBLE] under the circumstances that he is in.

We can acknowledge that it worked and it led them to the Western Conference Final. And I don't know, like, I'm not trying to sound like a Ken Holland apologist. The Stanley Cup-- the Stanley Cups he's won were in a completely different era.

And we all-- me more vocal than anyone here knows that the Edmonton Oilers need to do everything they can to capitalize on the current era that they are in right now. All I am saying is that I'm willing to, up until the deadline, give them the benefit of the doubt that they will find a way to try to fix this and put them in the playoff spot.

OMAR: Counter-counterpoint.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Only because last year they found a way to do it and they went to the Conference Final. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will figure it out because they know how urgent the situation is. That is what I'm saying.

OMAR: True, but if I were to run backwards out of my window and land on my feet and not get injured, I can't say that I planned that.


OMAR: You know what I mean?


OMAR: You know what I mean?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: No, you're right.

OMAR: You know what I mean?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: You're absolutely right.

OMAR: When Ken Holland said, you know what, OK, we're going to sign Evander Kane and this is going to make us get into the Western Conference Final, there is no shot you can tell me that was--


OMAR: That was the path.


JULIAN MCKENZIE: --some plays like 15% better, that series at least go 7, they probably don't get out of it.

OMAR: Honestly. Like, we can't miss the fact that, like, yes, Edmonton won the series, but Calgary lost.


OMAR: They lost. Markstrom lost them the series.


OMAR: And it's the Vancouver thing, man. You can't take something that works and say, OK, cool, our team is perfect. We don't have to do anything. All those issues that we might have had, no, it's fine, because we made the Conference Final.

And again, I know as a Leafs fan, I can't talk about the playoffs and stuff. But like, I'm watching McDavid play better, he's getting better, but the team isn't. I don't understand how people in the front office are looking around and saying, what the hell are we doing? Anyway.

SAM CHANG: I mean, I think that realistically might-- I say this all the time. I think the Canucks are like the trajectory right now, based on what they're doing, is the Jay Feaster Flames. But frankly what they also are is just a shittier version of the Oilers. It's like a team that has no defense, takes no steps to address the defense. They try to outscore their problems.

They rely on guys who just score, but like, there's absolutely no team defense, no blue line. The only difference is the Canucks have better goaltenders, for the most part, other than like maybe Stuart Skinner. But they have the same model. They do the same thing where they just, there's no plan.

Like, I know we talked about this last time, but why did they sign Jake Virtanen into a PTO? That made no sense. It doesn't address any of the issues on your team. They're like, oh, he's big, and tall, and fast. OK, but like, he sucks at hockey. Like, what are you doing?

OMAR: And no-- and that blue line they have isn't going anywhere. They're still signed to another year.

SAM CHANG: Neither is the Canucks.

OMAR: So like, no. So what--

SAM CHANG: They're the same team.

OMAR: What is the plan? What is the plan? Are you just going to say, OK, we're just going to let McDavid, like, run wild? Like, he can't frickin' do it on his own, man. He can't. And it's a frickin' shame.

It's such a shame that every year he gets better, and better, and better, and it's almost as if like, he's improving his play to, like, yell at the front office and say, give me something. Me and Leon are dying here. Give us something.

SAM CHANG: I don't actually know what's more frustrating here. Like, as much as we like to make fun of the Leafs, objectively I feel that they have done what they can to actually build a roster that works, and you're just cursed. Like, I don't-- I don't know what it is about the roster, I don't know what's missing, I don't know why it doesn't work, but it doesn't work, and that's frustrating. But is that more frustrating than having these really good players and doing absolutely nothing with them?

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: It's nuts. And in terms of-- and again, it goes back to the Oilers when they go to Peter Chiarelli. You follow up Chiarelli with Ken Holland? Like, two back-to-back misses at GM.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: In all fairness, like, Ken Holland had the pedigree. I mean, Peter Chiarelli, I mean--

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: He was going to retire.

OMAR: Pedigree? What pedigree though? Like, what had-- what had the Red Wings done within, like, a five-year span before they hired him?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Barely made the playoffs.

OMAR: They just committed, they just committed to a-- to a tear down, like, within that five-year window. Like, there is no success at all there.

SAM CHANG: It's also like a very different proposition to be successful now versus, like, successful in the '90s and early 2000s when you could spend whatever you wanted.

OMAR: Yeah.

SAM CHANG: Listen, if I had the Red Wings' money in like '98 and '99, I could have done that too.

OMAR: That team was stacked. They were stacked.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: They were stacked. I would do a lot of things with Detroit Red Wings money.

OMAR: Literally, man.

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: From what we know, before they hired Holland, there was interest and from what I heard discussions with Kelly McCrimmon, Ron Hextall, and what was there name again, Florida's GM? I'm forgetting his Florida's GM?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Florida's GM, Bill Zito?

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Zito, yeah. From what I heard, there was-- yeah, there was discussions with McCrimmon, Zito, Ron Hextall. I would have taken any one of those three. I would have taken-- anyone of those three names would have been an improvement over Chiarelli.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, well, yeah.



OMAR: At least--

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Who was going to retire.

OMAR: --they make moves. At least they make moves, man. Like, you can talk about the moves that, like, Bill Zito and Kelly McCrimmon makes, but like, at least they make the moves. Like, Ken Holland just says, like, oh, there's no space.

Oh, you know, it's hard to be creative. Oh, '99. No, 1998, you know. It's like, yeah, when you had--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: You lowkey, I think if you practice it, you could have a pretty decent Ken Holland impersonation. It's not that bad. You have the right tone.

OMAR: It's an almost Babcock. I've been trying to work on it. It's like-- it's like a 3/4 Babcock with, like, something else. I kind of have to-- I have to find it.