Wayne Gretzky is impressed with the Edmonton Oilers’ depth

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
24 days ago
Wayne Gretzky feels that this year’s iteration of the Oilers is the best yet because of their depth.
When Paul Bissonnette on the TNT panel asked Gretzky what makes the 2023-24 Oilers stand out among the others in recent years, Gretzky said it boiled down to how loaded they are at every position.
“I think they have more depth. I think the addition of Ekholm, Kenny Holland did a great job,” he said. “I like what they’ve done with their minor league system. Holloway is like a young Adam Graves, he’s given them a little bit more depth. And they’re playing a lot smarter defensively. Look at some of the shots that Vancouver had. I think they only had one game in the seven over 25 shots.”
“So they’re paying attention to details. And we talk about this all the time, Hank: goaltending and defence eventually wins you Stanley Cups.”
It is hard to disagree with Gretzky’s assessment of this team’s iteration. Kris Knoblauch has done a masterful job of implementing a sound defensive system that is getting the Oilers to play some responsible hockey and not take away from their biggest strength in offensive firepower. It certainly helps that their top stars are producing when it matters, they are getting timely saves from either Stuart Skinner or Calvin Pickard, and a little bit of luck sprinkled in there.
But it also has a lot to do with their resilience battling through adversity, given that they are just the fourth team ever to reach the third round after being at least 10 points out of a playoff spot at one point. That certainly applied to last night’s win in Game 1 where they survived blowing a two-goal lead and did not buckle under the pressure of the momentum swinging. Edmonton was eventually rewarded with a double-OT winner from Connor McDavid to give them the all-important victory to begin the series, their first in the WCF since 2006.
This group has learned many valuable lessons after years of heartbreak and playoff shortcomings, which is a telltale sign of a team that is motivated and eager to get the job done this time. There are plenty of factors in what has got them within three wins of a birth in the Stanley Cup Finals, and depth is one of them in the eyes of The Great One.
Edmonton will look to take a commanding lead in the series in Game 2 tonight. Catch the action on Sportsnet with puck drop scheduled for 6 p.m. MDT.

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