‘I want to win a Stanley Cup in Edmonton:’ Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl focused on upcoming 2023-24 season
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
5 days ago
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl was anticipating the inevitable question about his future with the organization sharing a knowing snicker admitting, “I knew that question was coming,” during a recording for an episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Wednesday.
This scenario feels reminiscent of those blink-and-you-miss-it moments. Not so long ago, Draisaitl was the newest young gun joining the Oilers ranks and even more recently he was inking an eight-year deal with former general manager Peter Chiarelli in August of 2017. Now, he’s coming into the final stretch of his last two years or rather his final two guaranteed opportunities to chase glory alongside superstar Connor McDavid.
When asked about his future instead of beating around the bush, Draisaitl did us all a favour and put it into the simplest terms.
“I’m in Edmonton right now. I want to win a Stanley Cup in Edmonton.”
In fact, the forward admitted he isn’t alone in capturing the one thing the Oilers haven’t had their hands on in over 30 years.
“We talked about it, Connor and me. We want to win so badly. We’ve talked about it over and over again,” Draisaitl highlighted that, in fact, the entire organization is on the same page.
“I got all of the belief and all the trust in the organization as a whole that we can get it done.
“And I get that same feeling from everyone in our organization. And that’s a great feeling to have. That’s the best starting point you can have to start a year.”
It’d be nice to say that Draisaitl’s journey in Edmonton thus far has been all sunshine and rainbows, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The year the Oilers locked in the six-foot-two centre to his lengthy contract was the year after the decade of darkness finally lifted over the city eventually resulting in a second-round loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Despite the loss, for the first time in far too long a glimpse of hope emerged in the once-dubbed City of Champions.
In 2019-20 the Oilers did it again, clinching a playoff spot for the second time in four years. While this may constitute a 50/50 ratio, it was a source of excitement for Edmonton at the time. Of course, that season was ended rather quickly by the Chicago Blackhawks.
The most recent heartbreak was evidently this past May, as the Oilers were eliminated in the second-round by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Vegas Golden Knights. Draisaitl willingly admitted that losing to Vegas in six games stung more than any prior defeat the team had endured.
“I think we all felt that way. It really felt like we can beat any team, and I still stand by that today,”
As the dust from last season settles Draisaitl is not fixated on what July 2024 might bring him, but rather is choosing to focus his energy on putting forth the team’s best efforts during the 2023-24 season.
“I do think we’re a better team. I think we’re more mature. We’ve learned from last season,” Draisaitl said.
“I’m also looking forward to another great chance of chasing what we all want.”
Draisaitl’s current contract, a bargain with a $8.5 million cap hit is due for an extension come July 1st and is set to expire in 2025, coinciding with McDavid who can begin negotiating his raise the same summer.
Compensating both McDavid and Draisaitl won’t come cheap. No. 29 past season was marked by formidable stats scoring 52 goals and 128 points in 2022-23 and were further complimented by his illustrious post-season performance of 13 goals and 18 points in 12 games.
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