Welcome to the “NHL Stanley Cup window” series, that focuses on the current Stanley Cup window of teams around the NHL.
Each article provides an overview of a team’s current window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. We will also discuss improvements the team needs to make, to be considered a serious Stanley Cup contender.
Finally, we will give a realistic prediction and forecast of a team’s likelihood to win a championship in the near future.
This time around, we head out to “Oil Country” and take a look at the Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton Oilers’ current Cup window
It has been a long time coming, but the Edmonton Oilers were officially back in the playoffs last season. After four first overall picks, six head coaches, four general managers and a brand new arena, the dark days in Edmonton are finally over.
The Edmonton Oilers were officially a playoff team again and look to be a contending team as early as next season. It is safe to say that, under this new Peter Chiarelli regime, the Oilers are here to stay and will be good for a very long time.
They have the best young player in the world in Connor McDavid, who took the league by storm last season. Number 97 led the NHL in scoring, took home the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award.
On top of that, McDavid captained the Edmonton Oilers to their first playoff appearance in 11 years. The Oilers were a revelation in the postseason, they eliminated their division rivals, the San Jose Sharks (last season’s runners-up) in six games, which was their first playoff series win since 2006. The Oilers then faced the Anaheim Ducks, the Pacific Division champions for five consecutive years and almost beat them in a close seven game series.
Overall, last season was a huge step forward for the franchise as they played beyond expectations. Impressively, it was only the first playoff run for so many of their young players, and they were one game from advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
Going forward, we should consider the Edmonton Oilers as a strong contending team to come out of the Western Conference for the next six to eight years.
They have two of the best young forwards in the game in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and a legitimate number one goalie in Cam Talbot.
Additionally, they have an emerging young defensive core that comprises Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Matt Benning, and Darnell Nurse. Not to mention quality veterans such as Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell.
The Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup window is officially open.
We should expect to see them go on a handful of deep playoff runs in the next several years.
What the Edmonton Oilers needs to do to possibly win a Stanley Cup
The Edmonton Oilers don’t have too many holes to fill on their roster. Their core players in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, and Cam Talbot should be able to carry them into the playoffs for the foreseeable future.
However, after next season, Connor McDavid’s big $12,500,000 cap hit will kick in, and Leon Draisaitl’s new contract will be in its second year. Considering the big cap hit of these two young guns, the Oilers must be cognizant of their cap situation for the upcoming years. They need to ensure that they have enough space to put together a contending team.
The Oilers will have to maneuver through potential cap issues like the Pittsburgh Penguins have done in the past with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. A key focus will be to fill the team with the right type of complementary players to help their main core.
Similarly, the Oilers might have to channel what made the Chicago Blackhawks successful for so many years. They continuously injected low-priced youth from their pipeline into their lineup, that can accompany their star players.
Internal growth is an important part of Edmonton’s Championship aspirations. Therefore, they will need players like Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira, Jesse Puljujarvi and a few others to play a bigger role for them as time progresses.
Moving on, the Oilers likely won’t have much cap space to land big name free agents. They need to do what Chicago and Pittsburgh have done so well in the past. Be active at the trade deadline, and acquire the right players that can potentially put them over the top for their playoff run.
Realistically, the Oilers shouldn’t worry about holding on to too many future draft picks, if they want to capitalize on the prime years of McDavid and Draisaitl.
If the Oilers can closely monitor and manage all these things in the next several years, they have a good chance to win a Stanley Cup soon.
Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup predictions
Having one of the best young dynamic duos in McDavid and Draisaitl, along with an emerging defensive core (Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse, Benning), and a solid number one goalie, the Oilers are not far from forging their way into the Stanley Cup Finals.
Boldly speaking, the Edmonton Oilers are already a Cup contending team, and McDavid may carry his team to his first Stanley Cup Final as early as next season.
Simply put, teams that have a generational talent like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid are bound to win a Stanley Cup sooner or later. It’s just a matter of when and how many.
Based on the current landscape of the Western Conference, teams that serve as a major threat to the Oilers’ championship aspirations in the next few years include the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Nashville Predators.
Beyond that, teams like the neighboring Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues can be potential roadblocks.
But if last year was any indication, the Oilers shouldn’t have too much to worry about. As long as they have a healthy McDavid, playing at an elite level, they will always have a chance to go far in the postseason.
A reasonable prediction for the Oilers in the near future is that they will win their first Stanley Cup within two-three years. They should probably be in the Finals at least three times in the next eight years.
Connor McDavid’s new contract expires in 2025/26. I don’t think it’s out of the question to say he should have won at least two Stanley Cups by then.
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