All summer long, continuous noise has been coming out from Edmonton. Beginning with Connor McDavid’s postgame decree following a Game 6 loss to Vegas. Also, deflated superstar Leon Draisaitl flatly stated it was Stanley Cup or bust for the Oilers. Now, Edmonton’s front office are vocally optimistic about a better outcome in 2023-24.
I feel good about the team. Obviously the depth is a question… What I’ve learned through my experiences, through the years, is that you’ve just got to keep with it. –Ken Holland, EDM GM to Sportsnet
Sure it’s common for NHL general managers to sound off about the way the roster was built. If you ask a first place team or a last place team, each front office will give the same response. Of course, they love the team they drew up. Eventually, the players and coaches will answer if the managers were right or wrong. That leads us back to the Golden Knights.
They have a proven Stanley Cup-winning lineup, and all but one significant player is returning. So what gives other Western Conference organizations the confidence that they will leapfrog Vegas in the 2024 playoffs?
We’re going to start with the seven defencemen who finished last year. The goalies are set. Up front, we signed Brandon Sutter this summer. We’ll go to camp, see what they can do, watch the waiver wire. –Holland to Sportsnet
Although Holland wasn’t speaking to them, his message is very confusing to Golden Knights fans. They’re not threatened by a team that plans on dressing the same defensive unit that allowed 3.6 goals per game against Vegas in the playoffs. Not to mention their unsteady goaltender that the Golden Knights picked apart.
Edmonton’s complacency only benefits the reigning champs. It’s been proven time and time again, McDavid and Draisaitl cannot do it alone. And the rest of the Oilers lineup isn’t deep enough to eliminate a well-rounded Golden Knights team.
However, there was one comment out of Edmonton that could worry the Golden Knights a little.
You’ve got to be good year, after year, after year, after year, after year. The teams that you’re talking about, that’s what they do… I can’t worry about the ‘24-25 team right now. I’ve got to worry about to ’23-24 team. –Holland to Sportsnet
Maybe the Oilers have seen Colorado and Vegas’ success and thought they need to copy their formulas. Both Cup champions aggressively built successful rosters by dumping salaries, moving popular players, and ignoring the future. With both McDavid and Draisaitl in their prime, Edmonton really doesn’t have much of a choice. Vegas isn’t going anywhere, Colorado will likely bounce back and Dallas will be a problem.
To beat the best, Edmonton will need… sorry let me start that again. To beat Vegas, Edmonton will need to make better in-season moves, possess home-ice advantage and significantly overachieve. And if both teams run out the same playoff rosters, the Oilers will need suspensions, plenty of luck, and 25 goals from McDavid and Draisaitl to eliminate 2023’s Stanley Cup champs.