Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Oilers’ Stanley Cup Window
10 months ago
It’s a good time to be an Oilers fan. The team is one of the hottest in the NHL right now and there is a strong case to be made that they’re the best team in the Western Conference. This team is heading into the playoffs with a lot of confidence and the fanbase is dreaming of another long playoff run.
A lot of things have broken the Oiler’s way this season. First off, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both having historic seasons. McDavid’s 148-point season is already the highest mark a player has hit this century while Draisaitl’s 123-point campaign is tied for the fourth most productive campaign since 2000. He needs six points in the team’s final three games to have the second-best season in that span.
On top of that, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is having a career year that no one saw coming, Zach Hyman has been productive, Stuart Skinner looks like a legit number-one goalie and the team is largely healthy.
This season has all the makings of a very memorable one and Nation Citizens should be very excited for this spring.
But here’s the thing: this isn’t a one-off year. I think this is just the start of the Oilers’ Stanley Cup window.
Yes, you could say that it’s a shame that it took until year eight of Connor McDavid’s career for this window to finally be open, but that’s a whole different conversation.
This team is built to go on a deep playoff run and the core isn’t going anywhere.
The team’s top-five forwards are Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman, and Evander Kane. They’re all signed for at least the next two seasons.
The team’s top four defensemen are Darnell Nurse, Mattias Ekholm, Evan Bouchard, and Cody Ceci. They’re all either signed or under team control for three more seasons. On top of that, Brett Kulak, Vinny Desharnais, and Phillip Broberg are all strong assets.
In net, they have Stuart Skinner signed for $2.6 million for three more seasons. That deal could quickly become one of the best bargains in the league.
On top of that, they have high-end prospects like Dylan Holloway, Xavier Bourgeault and others currently sitting in the AHL. There is more help on the way.
They have enough money this summer to sign all their pending RFAs and make a few additions to this team if they really wanted to. There’s actually a reason to believe that next year’s team could be even better than this year’s squad.
I talked about how many things broke their way this season with career years and things like that, but there are also things that didn’t go their way. Evander Kane was barely in the lineup for the start of the season, Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse both struggled early in the season, and Jack Campbell has been very underwhelming. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows and yet, here were are on April 7th and the Oilers are considered one of the favourites to make the Stanley Cup Finals.
There are no ‘Last Dance’ vibes in Edmonton like there are in other markets. No, this is just the beginning of the Edmonton Oilers being a perennial Stanley Cup Contender. This feeling you’re having as an Oilers fan right now… get used to it.
THE OTHER MR. CONSISTENT
Mar 6, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) looks for the puck during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Last week, I wrote about how consistent Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been throughout this season and today, I wanted to draw some attention to Stuart Skinner, who has also been excellent throughout the entire season.
He’s played 47 games so far this season and I’ve broken them up into ten-game chunks.
- Games 1-10: .921 SV% and a 2.28 GAA
- Games 11-20 .905 SV% and a 2.90 GAA
- Games 21-30: .911 SV% and a 3.19 GAA
- Games 31-40: .904 SV% and a 2.84 GAA
- Games 41-47: .915 SV% and a 2.41 GAA
He never struggled for more than maybe a handful of games in a row and he usually had some elite play on one end of every slump he went through this season, which kept his numbers looking really good when you break the season down into ten-game chunks.
For years we talked about how all this Oilers team needed was consistent .905-.915 SV% play from their goaltending and they’d be more than fine. They never consistently got that from Mike Smith (although his peaks were unreal) or Mikko Koskinen but they’re getting it now from Stuart Skinner.
It’s more than clear that the Oilers have found their goalie of the future and I’m very confident that Skinner can be the goalie that backstops this Oilers team to a championship. His floor is very high and as he’s shown over the last couple of weeks, he’s more than capable of coming through in big games.
THE YEAR OF NUGE TEE!
You knew we would have a t-shirt dialed in an ready to go as soon as RNH hit 100 points, and here it is!
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