2023 team report cards: Oilers still unable to support stars

Edmonton Oilers. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports /

Last season, the Edmonton Oilers started to put the pieces of the playoff puzzle together, making it to the Western Conference Final. Unfortunately, they were swept in that series, and this season, they were unable to get back to that point.

The Oilers began their postseason with a rematch against the Los Angeles Kings, which they won for the second straight year. In round two, they drew the Vegas Golden Knights and were behind the eight-ball from the start.

Edmonton never led the series, losing Game 1, Game 3, and Game 5. In the end, the Oilers were eliminated in six games.

How will the 2022-2023 Oilers campaign be viewed?

In the regular season, Edmonton played very well, especially in the second half of the season, and almost captured the Pacific Division crown.

Outside of the best power play in NHL history, this team shined on the individual level more than anything. Connor McDavid shocked the hockey world by scoring 153 points, and Leon Draisaitl finished second in the NHL in points with a remarkable 128.

The story was the same in the playoffs, as McDavid finished the second round with more points than any other skater (20). Meanwhile, Draisaitl exited with 13 goals, five more than any other player.

Unfortunately for Edmonton, this was another year in which the same story held true. McDavid and Draisaitl have been guiding this team (mostly) on their own since they entered the league, and we’ve now seen that this team still does not have the appropriate supporting players in place.

It’s one thing to have great players and not win. After all, only one team can win each year. But the Oilers have spent nearly a decade leaning on the same two players, possibly the two best in the league, without building a contender around them.

I give them credit for acquiring Mattias Ekholm in one of the best trade deadline moves, but there is no way that McDavid and Draisaitl should be able to score at their respective levels and still fall short of a division title or a Western Conference Final appearance.

Few teams are more exciting to watch than Edmonton, but exciting has not translated to winning. This organization has had ample time to create a true contender, but it’s been incapable of doing that.

Overall, the Oilers finished 50-23-9 (109 points), defeated the Kings in six games in the first round, then lost to the Golden Knights in round two, four games to two.

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This version of the Oilers has never won more than eight games, half the total necessary to claim the Stanley Cup, in a single postseason. That means that there is plenty of room to improve, yet Edmonton continues to remain stagnant and underachieve.

The Grade: B-