Despite another disappointing playoff exit, this time at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights, the Edmonton Oilers’ dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl aren’t planning on jumping ship.
While acknowledging that there is plenty of expectation that comes from playing in a Canadian market, it is clear that they remain loyal to bringing a Stanley Cup to Edmonton.
“There are expectations, but I think most of the expectations come from within ourselves, from within our room,” Draisaitl told reporters. “We want to win here. There’s nowhere else that we want to win. Expectations are there, you obviously have to deal with them in your own way at times, but we’re all here to win and we all want the same thing.”
While some may suggest this season was a step backward after advancing to the Western Conference Final a year ago, the Oilers don’t see it that way.
“I think it is progress. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it today, but I think it is progress,” McDavid said. “I think we’re a better team than we were last year. We’ve got basically everybody coming back. It’s just more experiences, really. That’s all positive stuff.”
It may seem like longer, but it wasn’t all that far back in the McDavid/Draisaitl era that the Oilers were failing to even reach the playoffs. While the ultimate goal has yet to be reached, it is clear this group is proud of what they are building.
“Obviously [Leon] and I have been here our whole careers. We’ve been through some bad years, some disappointments, another disappointment this year,” McDavid said. “At the same time, I look at the culture that we’ve built here, I look at where the organization sits today, and I take a lot of pride in that. I think that our core here has really built something from scratch, really from the ground up. To see it through with the guys that we’ve been with the whole time like [Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] is what it’s all about.”
Aside from Evan Bouchard, who is now a restricted free agent, this Oilers’ core is all under contract for next season. That said, concern over the future could start mounting if they fail to get the job done once again at this time next year, as Draisaitl is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2024-25 campaign. For now, however, it appears this team is focused on nothing but coming back even stronger next season.
"We want to win here."
Leon Draisaitl & Connor McDavid share their thoughts on the end of the season. @Enterprise | #LetsGoOilers
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 16, 2023
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