NHL Notebook: The Athletic names Edmonton Oilers a Stanley Cup favourite and Anaheim Ducks ink Jamie Drysdale to three-year extension

Photo credit:The Athletic
Zach Laing
9 months ago
As far as Stanley Cup favourites, The Athletic has two teams atop the rest: the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers, however, have an edge in terms of their chances to win Lord Stanley’s Mug. The Athletic has the Oilers at a 15 per cent chance to win it all, with the Hurricanes five per cent back. Other teams at the 10 per cent mark are the New York Rangers, and the Dallas Stars.
It all came to light Thursday as part of the outlet’s annual season previews done by Shayna Goldman, Dom Luszczyszyn and Sean Gentille, and their projections will be music to Oilers fans’ ears.
The team is projected to have 107.2 points on the year, half a point back of the Hurricanes, with a staggering 96 per cent chance at making the playoffs. Their chance of winning the Pacific Division sits at 49 per cent, with a 42 per cent chance of making it to the Western Conference Finals.
In what should be a surprise to no one, The Athletic pegs the Oilers as the top offensive team in the NHL and have them as the 16th best defensive team. Overall, their net rating of +56 is tops in the league.
“McDavid’s coming off not just his best year, but one that stacks up across all of hockey — especially in this era,” The Athletic’s preview wrote. “His 153 points stand at 15th all time in single-season scoring. Those who reached those heights before him all played in the ’80s and ’90s, a far different scoring level from today’s game, making it all the more impressive.
“It’s a point total that might’ve been even higher had his teammates finished on more of the chances he set up for them at five-on-five.”
The Athletic also cites the Oilers’ top-heaviness as a weakness that leaves holes lower in the lineup.
“A lot of the team’s depth in the bottom six is on the weaker side. All six play fewer minutes than your average bottom-six player and that contributes to a low rating, but even by efficiency, they lack,” the preview wrote. “Dylan Holloway’s projection isn’t kind, but it also overemphasizes his small bit of NHL experience (51 games).
“He has some potential and pedigree after being picked 14th in 2020, but the rest of the bottom six doesn’t leave as much room for optimism.”
All in all? The Athletic sees this year as the start of a new phase for the Oilers.
It’s not hyperbolic to say that this feels like a new phase for McDavid and the Oilers. Expectations around them have usually been high, and often unfairly so, but they’ve always come with an asterisk. Now, perhaps for the first time, it feels like falling short of a Cup won’t just be a garden-variety letdown — it’ll be a deserved one.
That’s not just an overall vibe, either. It’s not guesswork. It’s analysis based on past performance and future projections. Now, it’s up to McDavid, Draisaitl and their supporting cast to turn it all into reality. Who knows — they may never have another opportunity quite like this.
At the time of writing, Betway has the Oilers at -830 to make the playoffs carrying implied odds of 89.25 per cent, with the Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs sharing the best odds of winning the Stanley Cup at +800. Those odds imply a 11.11 per cent chance of it happening.


Ducks sign Drysdale

The Anaheim Ducks and RFA defenceman Jamie Drysdale came to an agreement on a three-year contract extension Thursday.
The 21-year-old rearguard will carry an $2.3-million cap hit over the length of the contract. Drysdale was one of the few remaining RFA’s without a new deal.
While a torn labrum in his shoulder kept him out of the lineup for most of last year, his pedigree as a sixth overall pick in 2020 and the face he scored four goals and 32 points in 81 games in 2021-22, show a bright future ahead.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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