McDavid window still open but Oilers miss golden opportunity
The Edmonton Oilers looked likelier than ever to go all the way this year and while their Stanley Cup window with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl remains open, the team's second-round defeat to the Golden Knights hits a little harder given how open the road to postseason glory had become.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: What do we make of that situation there? Because they did worse than they did last year. And they had Mike Smith last year. They looked as if the moves they had made at the deadline, getting guys like Nick Bjugstad, and Mattias Eckholm was supposed to work. Stuart Skinner, we've been singing his praises throughout this season as well, even though they signed Jack Campbell and it doesn't seem as if that's gonna work that well. But they still get bounced in the second round. They got beat by a really good Vegas team. But, Avry, what do you think of the fact that, you know, the Oilers are done in the second around, the way that they were bounced?
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Disappointing, disappointing in many areas the struggle to score at five on five, [INAUDIBLE] in the series against Vegas. They had a hard time in games 1, 3, and 5 against Vegas' forecheck and have a hard time maintaining the lead. Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse didn't look great as a pairing, once, again.
And other guys, outside McDavid, Drysdale, and Bouchard, [INAUDIBLE] step up. We saw the struggles of Evander Kane, of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, of Kailer Yamamoto. Guys who you would want to see step up more in the postseason didn't appear as much as you want to, and Jay Woodcroft without Coach [INAUDIBLE] in this match-up.
So it's unfortunate to see the window was still open. But, dang, this was probably the best time for Edmonton to cause because there was no Colorado after the first round, no Boston in Eastern Conference. If you go forward, you're facing for a Cup Final, if you go forward, [INAUDIBLE] or Dallas, either a Carolina or Florida. You could beat either team. But now, not happening.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Nope, cause Vegas was really good. Sam, what do you think of the fact that Ken Holland and the Oilers, once again, failed to get the job done?
SAM CHANG: I think Avry needs to toss me that crystal ball he had cause I specifically said on May the 3rd, Vegas was gonna win in six games. And--
AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: [LAUGHS]
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh, yes, you did.
SAM CHANG: I'd just like to say for the record that I was right.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh, you did, you did. You get to take your victory lap, Sam. Take your victory lap. [INAUDIBLE] in the winner's circle.
SAM CHANG: I mean, I had-- I know a lot of people thought they'd go further. I know they looked deeper than they were last year. They had a better regular season performance than they did last year. But a lot of the things we said about the Leafs apply to this Oilers team with, frankly, two fewer core players, like, two of the be-- like, best player in the world, plus Leon Draisaitl.
But I don't think they have the fore lines that the Kraken do. They don't have that kind of depth in the roster construction. I was skeptical about their defense all year long. I think it's better than what it was last year, but it's certainly nothing-- nothing I would write home about. And I'm happy for people to disagree with me on that.
But I think, also, I think-- I think Skinner had a bad round. I don't think that has any bearing on his future. I think he's-- he's clearly won the starter position. But he didn't have-- he didn't-- he put them in a position where they were constantly behind.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Arun, what do you think?
ARUN SRINIVASAN: No, I generally agree with the Sam says. I mean, like, it seems like the Oilers, once again, are, like, a top-heavy roster. Sure, they're not the same old, like, McDavid and Draisaitl. But, yeah, it seemed like Stuart Skinner had a bad round. Goaltenders [INAUDIBLE].
I think, too, like, you know, I did think the Oilers would go further. But I think maybe that's because, like, the Oilers, at their best, were probably the most attractive, like, team left of the final eight. You know, when they play at their best, they look like no team can beat them. You know, so I think, sort of, the ceiling they had is higher than any team left. And I think that's sort of disappointing. Because when Leon Draisaitl, 2 weeks ago, every time he touched the puck, it was in the net. So I wonder what the shooting [INAUDIBLE] numbers look like.
But, yeah, I mean, I would still tend to be-- I would tend to be less pessimistic though, about the Oilers. Like, I think this still was, like, a pretty good year. Your captain and soon-to-be unanimous MVP is only 26 years old, you know? I think there's a lot more there to be said. I'm not, you know, totally familiar with, like, how much, you know, depth the Oilers can add in free agency, you know, with their cap situation. But I think they seem to be fine.
So I think there are a lot of positives you can draw from Oilers, particularly, like, Evan Bouchard's development into, like, a legitimate, like, top-end defenseman. Like, that was really sort of cool to see. I think the Mattias Eckholm trade, for all the, you know, hard time between him and Kevin Holland. Rightfully so, turned out to be one of the best deadline moves of the year.
So I think there are a lot of positive takeaways. I think next year, however, that's when we get into take city, where it's like, when does McDavid win his ring? When does Leon Draisaitl get his ring? In the same way that people gave LeBron-- I use LeBron as a constant example. Because in terms of North American sports parallels, like, guys who have exceeded the preposterous hype around them, like teenage prodigies. Like, LeBron's the only thing even close to McDavid.
Well, when LeBron was 28 or 27, people started giving him hell for not winning rings. It's getting to that point in McDavid's career next year, where it's like, time to get into the hot take bakery and just be like, time to win a ring. But I do think there is, like, reasons to be optimistic about this Oilers team. They play a really fun style game. And it just seems like, from the outside looking in, like, they had one bad period and Jonathan Marchessault went crazy. And that was it for them. But-