The Edmonton Oilers return to the Stanley Cup Final is a chance to end 18 years of "what ifs?"

McDavid and company have carried the Oilers back to the finals for the first time since 2006 with a chance to break a curse and strengthen a few legacies.
Dallas Stars v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six
Dallas Stars v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages
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For the eighth time in the franchise's history and the first time in 18 years, the Edmonton Oilers sit atop the Western Conference as its champions. The Oilers have undergone some major changes since the last time they were in this position, all the way back in 2006. They've seen some extreme peaks and valleys, but they've overcome a considerable amount, especially this season.

The Oilers axed Jay Woodcroft early in the campaign before Kris Knoblauch took over and helped orchestrate one of the most incredible winning streaks in NHL history. Their goaltending has been a rollercoaster ride all season, though Stuart Skinner has found his footing over the last few games. At the center of it all are two of the best players in the game, who've been shouldering the load for the franchise for nearly a decade. The 2024 Oilers are a different beast than their 2006 counterparts.

The 2006 Oilers nearly made history

Edmonton's run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final was unprecedented. For the first time, an eight-seed had won their conference and was challenging for the league's top prize. This run included a win in the quarterfinals over the President's Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings, a six-game victory over the Hart winner in the semifinals, and a dominant five-game performance over the Ducks in the Western Conference Finals.

Two of the biggest stories of the run were the clutch goal-scoring of Fernando Pisani and the incredible goaltending of Dwayne Roloson. It felt like Pisani was part of every big goal for Edmonton, leading the league with 14 tallies during the postseason, including a league-high five game-winners.

However, it was Roloson who seemed to be the biggest factor because his injury in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is what many point to as the reason Edmonton lost to Carolina in seven games. The Oilers put up a valiant effort, and Jussi Markanen was good after assuming the starting job, but Cam Ward shut the Oilers down in Game 7 to deny Edmonton its place in history.