Halfway through the 2022-23 NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers are barely in a playoff spot. With 51 points from 45 games, the Oilers are only four points clear in the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Oilers are about as secure in a playoff spot as the Stanley Cup is in the hands of Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Nicholas Aube-Kubel might have ruined his chances at being a future Keeper of the Cup 😬pic.twitter.com/4JcMPxg9XK— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) June 27, 2022
The St. Louis Blues trail the Oilers by four points and the Nashville Predators are five points back with two games in hand. Not to mention that the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, who are only getting healthier, are also four points back and have three games in hand on the Oilers.
The Oilers’ situation in the standings is precarious at best – there’s a real chance they don’t make the postseason. And missing the playoffs this year would be absolutely disastrous for Edmonton.
Since being drafted first overall in 2015 by the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid has recorded 776 points. That’s an insane production rate that is unmatched in the NHL: McDavid has 100 points more than the next-best player in the league since 2015.
Is Connor McDavid bored of the NHL? Is he bored of the competition? pic.twitter.com/eCII8BIkSe— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 12, 2023
This season, McDavid is on pace for 67 goals and an incredible 151 points. The NHL hasn’t seen a player post at least 150 points since Mario Lemieux did it in 1995-96, when he had 69 goals and 161 points.
McDavid has performed as expected since being drafted. He’s been a dominant force on the ice and for his team. He has kept the Oilers afloat year after year in the standings and held up his end of the bargain. It’s just that the Edmonton Oilers have not.
Just look at the underlying numbers when McDavid isn’t on the ice for Edmonton:
|Stat||With McDavid||Without McDavid|
|Corsi For %||59||48|
|Shots For %||59||45|
|High Danger Chances For %||65||48|
|Expected Goals For %||62||45|
*All stats at 5-on-5
Connor McDavid’s NHL career with the Oilers has been just like a group project in college. He’s the one doing all the work and all his other project mates are just along for the ride hoping to get an easy A. But rather than get that easy A, they’re coasting toward a lot less.
McDavid is almost single-handedly keeping the Oilers in a playoff position for the time being. He’s done his part.
Future Is Bleak
It’s clear the Oilers need more top-end talent than just Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But getting that help is going to be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
On the free-agent market, the Oilers aren’t factors unless they massively overpay. On the trade market, their desperate situation means they also have to overpay, if they can even get a foot in the door – year after year Edmonton is one of the most common destinations added to no-trade lists.
For the Oilers to acquire the talent they obviously need, they’ve got to identify it early, meaning they’ve got to have a GM with a keen eye for young talent and a scouting department with the same qualities. That’s not Ken Holland and the Edmonton scouting department.
Look at some of the bad decisions Holland and his staff have made lately in trying to bring in that young talent:
None of the three are performing well and they are chewing up a significant portion of the Oilers’ salary cap.
Missing the playoffs this year would be disastrous for the Oilers and for McDavid. A player this good should be competing for the Stanley Cup. Since he was drafted by the Oilers, Edmonton has missed the playoffs three times. And now there’s a real chance they make it four, which would be a huge embarrassment for the Oilers and for McDavid.
At what point does he say he’s had enough and ask for drastic change? Or worse, ask to walk?
That’s why missing the playoffs would be a massive disaster. Because not only is it wasting away the prime years of the best player in the game, but it might sour the best player in the game on his future in Edmonton.