The Edmonton Oilers haven’t exactly been the model franchise since their star Connor McDavid signed his eight-year, $100M contract back in July of 2017.
The 22-year-old continues to do his part, having scored 224 points over the past two seasons and winning the Art Ross and Ted Lindsay awards in 2018. However, the team hasn’t built much of a winning program around him.
The franchise hasn’t reached the playoffs in those two years and the team still seems to have a questionable list of wingers to help McDavid and fellow star Leon Draisaitl. There are plenty of fans who are starting to wonder if McDavid regrets signing long-term with the Oilers.
Appearing on Sportsnet 590 radio on Friday, Elliotte Friedman said that he believes that new general manager Ken Holland will get two years to prove to McDavid that the team is heading in the right direction. However, he also believes that McDavid is getting impatient with the organization.
“I think the answer is no, he’s not patient,” Friedman said. “But he’s also willing to be convinced. I think they’ve got two years to show him they’re going in the right direction. This year and next year.”
Friedman added that he believes the team might be better off getting one more lottery pick after this season in hopes of striking it rich in a deep 2020 draft year and then take that next step, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the team isn’t intent on making the playoffs this season.
Holland was active during the summer despite little cap space to work with. He traded veteran Milan Lucic to Calgary for winger James Neal in hopes the veteran might bounce back to his 20-goal scoring ways this year. He also dipped into the international market, signing Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas, who both made the team out of training camp. The GM also brought in veteran goaltender Mike Smith to help balance out the goaltending situation.
Edmonton does have a lot of young prospects that are on the brink, many on the defensive end. The team has 2018 first-round pick Evan Bouchard in the AHL, but he could come up at any time and become a regular. It has prospects Dmitri Samorukov and Philip Broberg, who may only be a year away. The Oilers also have a number of young forwards, including Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod and Tyler Benson, who could contribute in the near future as well. Other than Broberg, who is playing in the SHL this season as an 18-year-old, the majority of the team’s top prospects are with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, which should be a loaded team this season.
The team also is right up against the cap, which has a lot to do with McDavid and Draisaitl’s deals, but the team also has quite a few contracts on the books that aren’t helping. The Oilers must also deal with the eventual contract of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season.
Edmonton has to hope that McDavid is patient enough to wait around while they rebuild the team and try and get it to a point where it is challenging for a Stanley Cup on a regular basis. If not, he could eventually demand a trade.