Yup, you read that right.
A man infamously known for his public spat with Kevin Lowe in the late 2000’s that included threats of a barn fight, Brian Burke has clearly changed his tune on the Edmonton Oilers going so far as saying they’re the second-closest Canadian team to winning a cup.
Burke made the call Saturday night during his “To The Point” segment on Sportsnet. He said he had five experts in NHL management and coaches help him assemble the list.
Here’s what he had to say about the Oilers:
“They’ve got the best one-two punch at centre on the planet, they’ve got to upgrade their defence, they’ve got some space, they’ve got some decisions to make. The (Andreas) Athanasiou acquisition was probably a mistake, I don’t know if they’ll qualify him, but they’ve got a little bit of cap space and they’ve got to upgrade their defence. Ethan Bear was a revelation for them this year, but they’ve got to figure out the goaltending position and they’ve got to upgrade their depth at forward.”
I think Burke is pretty much spot on in his analysis of the Oilers and there’s a definite argument to be made. Edmonton has some key pieces in place for building a perennial cup contender: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom and Ethan Bear should all be a part of that group.
But Burke is also right in that the Oilers are still in need of lots of other pieces. The Oilers were well on the right track to a strong playoffs this year, but a pandemic and a fluke matchup with Chicago derailed that.
Ken Holland has his work cut out for him in fixing this Oilers team. Needs include a top-six scoring winger, more offensive firepower in the bottom-six, an offensive defenceman, and another goaltender.
Before the Oilers can truly be considered to be contenders, Edmonton has a lot more learning to do, too. The experience gained against Chicago is going to be invaluable for the Oilers and the hope is that they can learn lots when it comes to preparations for big games.
On Twitter: @zjlaing