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The idea that teams need Stanley Cup experience is overblown

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Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Woz
By Woz
9 months ago
Earlier this week on Oilersnation Everyday a viewer said “We need players with Cup experience” and that the Edmonton Oilers should look to bring in more guys who’ve won the Stanley Cup.
Now, those types of players don’t grow on trees however would adding players with that type of experience truly help a team like the Oilers who’ve already gained that in a sense by making a Conference Final and losing to eventual Cup winners back-to-back years? Sure, they haven’t won a Cup or made a final yet but the playoff runs they’ve had is valuable experience in itself.
Here’s what Tyler Yaremchuk thought about Cup Experience…
Yaremchuk: “But they’ve been on a couple of long playoff runs now, the Oilers have the experience of losing in the Conference Final. The Oilers have the experience now of getting bounced in the second round. They’ve lost to the eventual Cup champions twice. The idea that there are these magical lessons you get, and when people talk Cup experience they almost always talk about guys who won the Cup”
“I don’t love the whole you need to go get guys with Cup experience ’cause once you’ve played in the playoffs you know what the playoffs are about. There’s a little bit of something sure of the grind of getting to round three or four but this Oilers’ team has been to round three, came a couple of games from getting there a few times now”

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Yes, you can argue that the Golden Knights had six players who had Stanley Cup Rings. Jonathan Quick and Phil Kessel didn’t have any on-ice impact towards them becoming Stanley Cup Champions but you could say their experience and advice could’ve played a small factor. Then you can also look at the 2018 Washington Capitals who had two players and the 2019 St. Louis Blues who had one when they secured the Cup in those years. Those teams had minimal Cup experience yet got the job done in June.
The Oilers have two players who’ve been to the Stanley Cup Final, Mattias Ekholm in 2016 with Nashville and Brett Kulak in 2020 with Montreal, and their experiences are just as valuable if Edmonton brought in a bottom-six forward who recently won the Stanley Cup. Some will bring up Duncan Keith and how important he was to the 2022 Oilers however he wasn’t just a Cup winner, he’s a future Hall of Famer. It would be different if you brought in someone like Will Carrier from the Golden Knights, for example.
No disrespect to Carrier, but he’s not a Duncan Keith, someone who has three rings, two Norris trophies, a Conn Smythe, Olympic gold medals, and was one of the best defensemen of his generation. Keith was a different breed of experience that you can’t just find on any team.
When it comes to the players who’ve gained experience over the past two to three seasons for the Oilers I think of a guy like Darnell Nurse. Who in 2021 played 62 minutes in Game 4 against Winnipeg that went to triple overtime. To log that many minutes just to be eliminated from the playoffs is a gut punch that can only make an athlete stronger mentally.
And I hate to bring up that game because of how soul-crushing it was but that’s just one example of invaluable playoff experience even if it’s not winning the Cup or reaching the final. Every playoff run has its learning moments regardless of how far you go. Ask anyone and they’ll say the best teacher in life is failure, which can easily be applied to hockey and the Edmonton Oilers.

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