Still reeling from their club’s six-game elimination at the expense of the Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers star players Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl believe the future looks bright in the Alberta capital and that the team will be contenders again next year.
Meeting the media at the end-of-season review on Tuesday, McDavid and Draisaitl still struggled to come to terms with this quick exit from the playoff draw.
McDavid, the NHL scoring champion with 153 points, believes the team has moved in the right direction this year and will come back stronger. “I think we have made progress. Today, of course, I don’t feel like that, but I think we have made progress. We have a better team than last year. I know the guys will come back with more experience. ”
The history of the Oilers is rich with four Stanley Cup conquests in the 80s. McDavid dreams of following in the footsteps of Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier and also lifting the silver trophy at the end of his arms. He assures that the Oilers will still be contenders for top honors next year, but that this desire will have to come from the locker room. “I think we can knock on the door as much as we want. It’s up to us to put everything together to do it. ”
“It’s cut or nothing for us,” McDavid said. Considering where everyone is at in their career, that’s what is expected. ”
The elimination of the Oilers is still recent and the pain is deep for the captain who admits bluntly that it is the details that sank his team. “When two good clubs clash, it is the details that make the difference. I think we made too many little mistakes and they capitalized on that. The margin is really slim when you play against a great club in the playoffs. ”
“We’re all here to win, but when it doesn’t work it’s disappointing,” Draisaitl said. We must try to turn the situation around in a positive way to come back next year with the necessary changes. ”
Draisaitl, author of 128 points in the season, also believes that his club has grown and is more mature, but in his eyes, the Oilers are sometimes their worst enemy. “We found too many ways to beat ourselves rather than the other club doing it. We have to find a way to learn not to. We are attack oriented and we will beat clubs that way with our structure and speed, but we have to stop beating ourselves. ”
Draisaitl, who could join Germany at the World Championship, notes that he and his teammates have managed to change the atmosphere within the group in recent years and that the future looks rosy. “We have developed a winning culture. I think we did a good job and when you play with the same players for years you develop this feeling of always wanting more. ”
“Leon and I have been here our entire career and have been through some bad years and disappointments,” McDavid said. But when I look at the culture put in place and where the organization is, I take great pride in it. ”
Forward Zach Hyman argued there are positives to take away.
“Especially in the second half of the season, I think we had the best record in the league. We’ve won 14 of our last 15 games, and the other one was lost in extra time. The majority of our core is going to be back. There is a possibility of going all the way. ”
Defenseman Mattias Ekholm said adjustments can be made, but the Oilers already have plenty of talent.
“A good defensive structure is something you work on and improve as a team. But to find the two best players in the world, you don’t just turn around the corner and find them. We have them. ”