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What to expect for the Oilers in Round 2, and could the Kings be in line for a rebuild

Oilers beat Kings in NHL Playoffs
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
22 hours ago
Remember a few years ago when the Oilers beat the Calgary Flames in five games, sending them spiralling into a rebuild? Of course you do!
Now, the joke that Oilers fans love to remind their provincial rivals about isn’t exactly true. It’s not like the Flames lost that series and then decided to pull the pin on things and go into a rebuilding period.
No, it was more Johnny Gaudreau’s indecisiveness, which left then-GM Brad Treliving high and dry, and Matt Tkachuks’ dislike of cold weather that led to the Flames taking a step back. It wasn’t like the Flames front office sat there and decided that they had to rebuild their entire roster because they weren’t good enough to compete with the Oilers.
Why am I bringing this all up right now? It’s because late on Wednesday night, as the Oilers and Kings shook hands at centre ice following another playoff series win for the Oilers, I started to think about just how far away the Kings looked this time around.
In the first meeting, it went to seven games and honestly, the Oilers were a bounce away from losing that series in six games.
Last season, the Oilers took it in six games but there was a feeling that the Kings were getting a little closer. There was some young talent coming up through their roster and there was a sense that they were going to be ultra-aggressive in the offseason.
They did make a big swing, moving out a handful of pieces in exchange for Pierre Luc-Dubois and it was a massive swing and a miss. Dubois looked disinterested for long stretches of the season and that carried over into the playoffs. His most noticeable moments involved him sitting in the penalty box.
Now, the Kings head into the offseason in a very interesting spot. Most of their best players aren’t getting any younger. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty were both very good in this series, but they’re both in their mid-thirties and who knows how many more truly elite seasons they have left.
They do have skill on their roster and some quality young pieces like Quinten Byfield and Adrian Kempe, but this series against the Oilers showed that there is still a very sizeable skill gap between these two and I don’t think the Kings are just one good trade away from closing that gap.
They do have just north of $20 million in cap space for this upcoming season, but they have some key players hitting unrestricted free agency, like Viktor Arvidsson and Matt Roy and no goaltenders under contract at the NHL level.
Frank Seravalli recently brought up the idea of the Kings buying out a player like Pierre-Luc Dubois, who is under contract for seven more seasons. That would be crazy, but I do think everything should be on the table for Kings this summer, even potentially a GM change.

ON TO THE NEXT

Apr 13, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward forward Warren Foegele (37) and forward Corey Perry (90) try to get to a loose puck in front of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Casey DeSmith (29) during the first period at Rogers Place.
The Oilers now get to sit and wait for their next opponent. It will be either the Nashville Predators or Vancouver Canucks and there are a handful of pros and cons for either matchup.
First up, if it ends up being Vancouver the obvious positive is that there’s less travel. It may seem like a small detail, but a run to the Stanley Cup final can be a gruelling process. Having a chance to stay close to home and spend less time travelling shouldn’t be scoffed at.
The Canucks are a more skilled team than the Predators and had a much better regular season but right now, they’re a shell of the team that we saw for 82 games. They’re currently without their all-world goaltender Thatcher Demko and both Elias Petersson and Quinn Hughes do not look like themselves. There is speculation that they could both be fighting some sort of injury, although nothing has been confirmed.
The Canucks are good, but they’re banged up and not playing great hockey right now. 
Did they dominate the Oilers during the regular season? Oh, you better believe they did. But all you need to do is go look at the series that just went down between the Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets. The Jets ran their show during the regular season and still lost their series in five games and were thoroughly outclassed.
The regular season matchup means nothing.
As for the Predators, they’re healthier and have an all-world goalie of their own in Juuse Saros. They don’t have the offensive ceiling that the Canucks do, but they’re a team that works very hard. They could give the Oilers fits.
Edmonton has traditionally dominated this matchup and we all know about Leon Draisaitl’s ridiculous stat line against the Predators but again, regular-season matchups don’t really mean a lot when it comes to predicting a playoff series.
Regardless of who advances, the Oilers will be favourites and here’s my hottest take of all: I think the Oilers move through the second round in relatively short order. Another five-game series anyone?

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