Connor McDavid and The Longest Week


Here we are, just 7 days until the 20015 NHL draft, and with Lord Stanley’s mug safely stowed away in Chicago for the Summer, the Edmonton Oilers can finally get down to business.

How fast can it get here? Not fast enough, friends. Not nearly fast enough.

Connor McDavid is a foregone conclusion, as the over-all Number 1 pick. Moses would have to summon another tablet from the mountain before Peter Chiarelli trades that piece. But as most right-thinking people will agree, Connor McDavid does not a Stanley Cup Champion make. Not on his own. And not by simply adding him to the stable of talent already in residency at Rexall Place. There are a number of needs in the lineup that are vital to solve. And as good as this McDavid kid is, he simply does not have enough fingers to plug them all on his own.

Here, then, are the 9 things the Edmonton Oilers need to do, in order to compete for a playoff spot this season. I agree with those who feel it is a long shot for them to do so. But what’s wrong with having lofty goals?

9. Lets get the easy one out of the way early: Draft Connor McDavid 1st over-all. That accomplishes so many things, from the hole at center ice to the negative light that would-be free agents have perhaps shied away from Edmonton in the past because of. He will make a big difference. A BIG difference.

8. A power forward on the wing. Benoit Pouliot was a very good addition, but he is just not enough. The Oilers need someone on the left-side, on the 2nd or 3rd line, that is hard to play against, and who has some real NHL offensive ability. I can not imagine spending the money required on Milan Lucic, but THAT kind of player.

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7. They need to keep Taylor Hall healthy. I’m as excited about Connor McDavid as the next guy. But until proven otherwise, I still believe that Hall is the straw that stirs the drink in Edmonton. And if he is healthy and playing like he did at the World Championships, that will be huge.

6. Todd McLellan needs to form a firm, fast relationship with this group. Todd Nelson had the distinct advantage of having coached most of these guys before, at the AHL level, and so buy-in came relatively easy. I’m hoping the roster is mostly filled out by Training Camp, so that McLellan can spend time on this.

5. The Edmonton Oilers have to figure out how to find the best version of Justin Schultz. Now more than ever before, this talented front-end needs a puck moving defenceman that can start the momentum up-ice. His obvious flaws aside, Schultz DOES have this skill. No one else on the existing roster is close.

4. One other young Oilers D-man has to step up, and meet or beat expectations this season. Oscar Klefbom certainly seems well positioned to be this guy, given the bright flashes he displayed last year. But Darnell Nurse has the pedigree to eclipse that, and enjoyed a successful season in Junior.

3. As wonderful as it was to watch the step forward that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took last campaign, the cold-hard truth is that he needs to progress by about that much again this year. The Oilers need a #1 center to compete, and Connor McDavid is probably a year or more away from that status.

2. A goaltender. The smoke seems to be coming from the Cam Talbot camp, certainly from outside of the organization. We will see. But Ben Scrivens did not just forget how to play goal last season. If we see real progress on the blue line, that will feed confidence to a guy with a much better track record than last year’s play would indicate.

1. A “real” top-pairing D-man. This acquisition would fix so, so many problems in the Oilers organization. It would automatically improve the goaltending. It would allow good defencemen like Klefbom and Andrew Ference to play in roles they can succeed at. Less time in their own zone would seriously increase the amount of O-zone time that Hall, Eberle, McDavid, Yakupov, et al would receive. This HAS to be the Oilers number one job, heading into the draft.

Aside from drafting the kid, that is. Yes, the Edmonton Oilers have managed to screw up such things in the past. But at some point, you have to put some trust in the fact that that the joint is under new management, and that those missteps are behind us.

I have my $5 ticket to draft night. I have renewed my season’s tickets. I’m even ready to handle the $20 parking at Northlands. I’m ready. For Connor McDavid. Bring it on!

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