Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Inescapable Conclusion

There will be plenty of time to look back at this profoundly joyous season. We’ll do that later when we have time. We’ll break down trades and signings as they happen. There will be a time to examine what went wrong in the playoffs in the coming days and weeks. This article isn’t about any of that. It’s about winning a Stanley Cup.

It is now impossible to deny. There is no amount of delusion, self or otherwise, that can dissuade the management, coaching staff, players, and pundits from coming to this now inescapable conclusion: The Edmonton Oilers are in the phase of their development where they must compete for the Stanley Cup.

To put it another way, the window to win the Cup is now. Every year that passes without seriously challenging for it is a waste. The Oilers have the best player in the NHL. Leon Draisaitl is a top 10 scorer in the league at 21 years of age. There’s the making of a solid, though still not yet dynamic, defence lead by Oscar Klefbom. They have a goaltender who can handle both a massive volume of games and a massive volume of shots against in those games.

The Edmonton Oilers have now officially crossed over from a joke of a franchise to a team to be reckoned with. We’ve bypassed that “team on the rise” garbage completely. If the Oilers next season can be described as a “plucky group with flashes of brilliance” then there has been a catastrophic failure somewhere along the line.

Every single move. Every single trade, extension, free agent signing, or hiring by the franchise from now until McDavid is out of his prime needs to correctly answer a single question: Will this help the Oilers win a Stanley Cup?

That is where the team is at right now.

The Edmonton Oilers blew the socks off most of our expectations this past season. That’s awesome! However, they also only won one round in the playoffs. There are huge questions about secondary scoring, doubts about how to improve the blueline persist, and there are issues with the ways the Oilers have allocated their Cap dollars. Changes are coming and I welcome them.

This is it. This is what we waited for. When we tacitly agreed to this rebuild in 2009 we didn’t think it would take eight years and four 1st overall picks including a generational talent, but we didn’t agree to it so the Oilers could make the playoffs. We wanted the Cup.

Losing in Game Seven to the Ducks was a damned bitter pill to swallow and I don’t like it one bit. I’m pissed right off about it, if we want to be honest. But when I think about the Oilers it isn’t disappointment that washes over me. I can’t help but smile. I can’t help but get excited. I can’t help but think about a time not so far in the future that Nugent-Hopkins can actually grow that moustache when Connor McDavid is lifting the Stanley Cup over his head.

It’s going to take some shrewd moves (I’m almost certainly not going to like all of them!). It’s going to take improvement from players who are already Oilers today and the addition of players who aren’t Oilers yet. The club wasn’t good enough to win that Cup yesterday but it sure as hell can be good enough tomorrow.

There is only one thing for this team to focus on. One. Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Pitlick, Russell, McDavid and Draisaitl’s next contracts, the second pairing, the third line, the 2017 entry and expansion drafts – they are all about one thing.

It’s all about the Cup.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      not against adding Hamonic but it would likely need to be Eberle +#27 pick which looks like our pick and i don’t know if PC feels we need to do this because we are no longer in a position of weakness.

  • ScottV

    Well sure – give it a go – the sooner the better, but we may have to wait for McD and Drai to mature a little more. They may become the 2 best C’s in the world and on one team. 2 to 3 years.
    McL banking on Nuge – Eberle to come thru in 2nd rotation vs Getzlaf like guys was a mistake. Drai should have been groomed for it throughout much of this past season.
    PC should have made it more interesting with a bigger bite at the deadline. DD – good guy, but c’mon, a mistake.
    Pouliot Nuge Eberle – big expensive problem. How they don’t come up with an important goal is beyond me. Way past over due.

  • Danglishish

    What I am looking most forward to is Chia finding a sniper for 97. Not a guy WHO CAN score with him like Maroon (who I like), someone WHO WILL cash 40+.

      • TruthHurts98

        Yes, a hundred times yes. Oshie would put in 40+ and score in shootouts. I hope it happens and I bet he’ll take a real look at signing. Eberle needs to be traded, exposed or plain let go asap. I would much rather pay Oshie 6 mil to fill the net then watching the painful Jordan experiment continually underperform.

    • Mitch92

      Eberle will net the Oilers six million in cap space, nothing more. No desire to see that old entitled Russian in Oiler colours trying to recapture his youth by swinging on Connor’s coattails anyway.

  • Clayton

    An off season of questions that won’t be answered until as the season goes along and for some until this time of the year in seasons to come. I probably will get bashed but these are the honest things Oiler fans must ponder…
    1. Can the Oil find a bonafide back up? Sure Talbot handled the 86 game workload fine this year…but too many long seasons like this is shown to have wear and tear on goalies and injuries arise.
    2. Can the Oil find a way to shore up their D soon? They have prospects and young emerging D-men…but what do they really have? How long can they survive giving up the 3rd most shots per game? What wear and tear on Talbot will all these shots have? Then again…the Penguins had the most shots against this year and they are in the conference finals. Then again…the Pens do have the best player in the game…for now!
    3. Is Connor McDavid the next Sid or Ovie? Can he find the next gear he needs for the playoffs and continue to be his dominant self or will he be playoff-invisible like Ovie? Despite dominating in the regular season Connor racked up 0.69 pts. per game…frighteningly close to Ovie’s 0.62. Almost everyone feels the Sid comparisons are more accurate, but don’t forget Connor is a kid that dominated the junior hockey landscape and left without a memorial cup to his name!
    4. How will the Oilers deal with the pending cap issues. Next season is fine, but then Connors entry level deal expires and he can choose his amount. Some contract anchor money is off the books then, but the majority of the bad contract money is still around. Not to mention the fact that Leon needs to get paid…see number 5.
    5. How will the Oil counteract a pending/possible offersheet to Leon. Teams know the Oilers will match as long as the deal isn’t ridiculous and they would be stupid not to. But the ramifications of this can be immense. Leon is a top 10 goal scorer…so anything less than 7.5M is unlikely. Then does Connor go for the hometown discount 8.7M like Sid or break the bank like Toews and get 10.5M. Sure 10.5 and 7.5 are not crippling for the Oil…but then add in Ebs, Nuge and the anchor contract for Lucic of 6M each and you have 36M eaten up on 5 players.
    6. Will they fix the bathroom issues at the new arena. Seriously who planed that? At least they fixed the slippery floor!

    Alright…slam away!

    • D

      Nothing to slam here. You raise some legitimate questions and issues. Connor is too competitive to allow himself to become playoff invisible. Cap issues will become real, unless the cap rises significantly. Lucic has to work on his foot speed – it was obvious on the second Ducks goal last night. Can’t see any scenario where Ebs is with the team at training camp – his contract is too pricey for a third line winger who didn’t have another gear in the playoffs. Lock down McDavid and Draisaitl to long term contracts and go from there.

      • Clayton

        Thank you. Hard to see Lucic improving his footspeed. Generally footspeed declines post-age 30. At 29 this June…think he is only going to get slower. And as for Ebs, I think the Oilers would like to have him somewhere else by training camp, but who is going to take that contract on without the pot being sweetened with something the Oilers don’t want to give up. Vegas knows the Oil want to dump him so they aren’t going to just take him and thank the Oilers.

  • DannyGallivan

    We need compete in the playoffs. Ebs has none (regular season as well). If Chia thinks he is decent trade bait then protect him, otherwise, leave him to Vegas. He has no future here at $6M per.

  • rivid

    There will be no second contract for Ebs, he will be moved out this summer.. he is not a player the GM wants on his team and as l write this on EJ the have posted an article about removing Ebs,nuge and pou….
    Changes are coming this summer

  • BringitbacklikeSlats

    Negative and spiteful commentary based on Corsi is this guys MO. After his ruthless attack on Russell (not one but 2 pieces he wrote at the start of the season) he’s been oddly silent on it until now where he takes another stab at him.
    Never mind the way he so admirably battled for us in the playoffs. Most notably in the gutsy game 5 where he absorbed a headshot when we were already down to 5D. And proceeded to set a record for most blocks ever in a playoff game. Ever. Kids got more courage in his left pinky than Matt Henderson has in his entire self. Loser comes to mind when I read this guys putrid stench.

    • You seem pleasant. I didn’t attack Kris Russell. I presented facts about Kris Russell and what happens when he’s on and off the ice. If that felt like an attack then I suggest climbing back into the hole from whence you came.

  • MrBung

    This post nails it. The Oilers have started their window and all moves are about competing for the Stanley Cup. The playoffs are tough and as we see with a lot of other teams like San Jose and Washington, it is more than top-end talent that helps take a team over the top.

  • Spiel

    49% Corsi for during the regular season, 43% in the series against the Ducks.
    I agree in pushing while McDavid is still on his entry level deal, but don`t get ahead of yourself.