Cup Clock Ticks On
Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
Bitten by blown leads and with four consecutive losses in the books as the Philadelphia Flyers come calling tonight, it’s about time that the Edmonton Oilers get their collective act together if they have any intention of hanging onto a playoff spot and actually making some noise when the post-season begins.
That’s the object of the exercise of course, and in the case of the Oilers, who won two playoff series last spring for the first time since they reached the 2006 Stanley Cup final when they got swept by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2022 Western Conference Final, a lot of fans are looking for an encore. At the very least.
Anybody who was around for the unlikely trip that ended badly against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 in Raleigh and then hung on until the organization finally emerged from the Decade of Darkness, going two rounds deep back in 2017, is acutely aware of how long it’s been.
Watching the time tick down on the contracts of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will certainly do the job if angst is your thing – McDavid has three seasons remaining after this one on his deal and Draisaitl has two. There are also some pending milestones going into the game against the Flyers tonight that accentuate the reality that time, as always, ticks on.
Jan 25, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) and forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrate McDavid’s game winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Oilers won 3-2 in Overtime.
McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the longest serving Oiler at 776 regular season games, are all in the top-10 in franchise scoring. They’re keeping company with some high-hat names from the Stanley Cup dynasty days of the 1980’s. McDavid and Draisaitl have won enough individual silverware to fill a trophy case, but each member of the trio has played just 37 playoff games. Not a single Cup ring among them.
We know McDavid, 26, will win another Art Ross Trophy this season as the league’s scoring leader going away. Since being selected first overall with the Golden Ticket in 2015, McDavid has scored 281-518-799 in 544 games, so there’s a good chance he’ll reach 800 points against the Bullies tonight. Next up on the career list is Glenn Anderson, who hoisted the Stanley Cup five times with the Oilers, at 906 points, but that’s a storyline for next season.
Draisaitl, 27, who has a habit of finishing as runner-up to McDavid for the Art Ross Trophy when he isn’t winning it as he did in 2019-20, has tallied 287-411-698 in 613 games since the Oilers selected him third overall from the Prince Albert Raiders in 2014. Draisaitl sits sixth in franchise points, having blown past Paul Coffey in December. Of course, Coffey sipped champagne from three Cups with the Oilers — 1984, 1985 and 1987. Leon remains thirsty.
Then, there’s Nugent-Hopkins, who’ll turn 30 in April. RNH hasn’t put up the same gaudy numbers as McDavid and Draisaitl since the Oilers selected him first overall from the Red Deer Rebels in 2011, but he’s no slouch with 223-374-597. He’s ninth in career scoring and is poised to pass Ryan Smyth early next season. His next point will give him 70 points, a career-high for a single season. RNH will catch Coffey in points but not Cups next season.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The other players occupying top-10 spots in Oilers’ career scoring account for 22 Stanley Cup rings with Edmonton. Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Anderson have five each. Wayne Gretzky has four and Coffey has three.
Here and now, McDavid and Draisaitl are in the heart of their primes and it’s obvious Nugent-Hopkins has plenty left in the tank. That said, we know the window of opportunity doesn’t stay open indefinitely. I’m guessing McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH would trade all those points for just one sip from the silverware. Best get on with that.
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