The Oilers are entering their seventh season with the pairing of McDavid and Draisaitl yet have had little success. Should this be cause for concern?
Everyone knows how good Connor McDavid is. He’s a generational talent and the type of player that can completely change the outlook of a franchise. A similar thing can be said about Leon Draisaitl, who trails only McDavid in scoring in the past three seasons, has turned himself into one of the league’s best. Yet somehow the Oilers have failed to even win a playoff game since 2017 and look primed for another mediocre season, but how unprecedented is this lack of success compared to similar teams in the past?
Aside from McDavid and Draisaitl, since 1960 there have been seven pairs of teammates who each won the Hart trophy at least one time within a four year span. Aside from Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, who only won one Cup together, the other six all won at least two Cups together. Granted, McDavid and Draisaitl are far from finished their careers, they’re entering their seventh and eighth seasons respectively and, aside from a second round exit in 2017, have yet to get anywhere near a Cup.
The most recent example of this type of dominant duo to win it all would be Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who won their first Cup in their fourth year together and have since won two more. Their ability to win later in their careers is certainly encouraging for the Oilers prospects of winning one but the fact that with multiple generational players the Oilers are still so far away is certainly cause for concern. The Penguins won their first Cup with Crosby and Malkin when they were much younger than the Oilers pairing is now, which does make you wonder what went right for them and not the Oilers. When the Pens made back to back Cup appearances in 2008 and 2009 it was very much the Crosby and Malkin show, with no other player on the team recording more than 50 points in the regular season. But it’s a different league now, McDavid and Draisaitl can’t just run the show and expect to succeed. There has to be depth behind them. Players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Zach Hyman are going to need to step up in the coming seasons to provide offensive support and the defense led by Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie needs to step it up if they want to do what the Penguins were able too.
If there’s one thing to be taken from all this is that in McDavid and Draisaitl the Oilers have what might be the biggest key to winning a Cup but they have to get going soon. They brought in a lot of new faces this offseason in an attempt to create a real contender but we’ll have to see how that pans out. Ken Holland and the Oilers organization has to act soon and take advantage of this incredible opportunity they have before it’s too late. The Oilers can’t be allowed to waste the primes of these guys careers and something has to give sooner or later.