Edmonton Oilers World-Class At IIHF

Apr 6, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall (4) waits for the play to start against the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall (4) waits for the play to start against the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

As if back-to-back wins for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships wasn’t enough, three members of the Edmonton Oilers were integral in bringing home the Gold Medals from this year’s edition. And that is a very good sign, indeed, for the future fortunes of the Edmonton Oilers.

Lets start with the play of Cam Talbot, the man who back-stopped Team Canada to this championship, in his very first turn wearing the Maple Leaf. Talbot quickly grabbed the starter’s role, with his solid play early on. The doubters leaped all over him after the loss to Finland (as if Canada was going to win that one without scoring a single goal). But all good goaltenders have off-nights. We got a first-hand glimpse of that this past season, when the Edmonton Oilers schooled Carey Price, arguably the best goaltender in the world.

But the good ones have the ability to bounce back, which Talbot did in spades. I contend Canada would not have beaten the U.S. had it not been for his performance in the semi-finals. He set a World Championships record with 4 shut-outs in the tournament, including a no-no in the championship game, with the pressure that lands on the shoulder of every Canadian goalie in a situation like that. While their are few guarantees in life, in certainly seems as if the Edmonton Oilers have a legitimate #1 goaltender, if not a world-class one.

Next up, Taylor Hall, who has now won back-to-back World Championships along with his back-to-back Memorial Cup Championships. Not just that, he was arguably Canada’s best forward from Game #1, up to and including the championship game. Hall led the team with 6 goals, tied for 2nd over-all in the tournament, and in the final game for all the marbles, Hall led the club in TOI with 19:26, in all situations except the P.K. Hall & Connor McDavid had 4 shots each, to pace the attack.

For Taylor Hall, it should at the very least keep him in serious contention for Team Canada in the Fall. But (quite frankly, more importantly) it should also shut up some of the detractors who in their twisted logic somehow think that this world-class player is what’s wrong with the Edmonton Oilers. Could the Oilers still trade him for a world-class D-man? Well, sure. But if you HAVE the world-class D-Man, are you really trading him for a Winger? Of course not. Next question, please.

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Connor McDavid was not the best Oiler in this tournament, but who will complain about 9 points in 10 games, from a 19-year old? Probably only if you’re an opportunistic, head-line hunting TV reporter. But to me, McDavid’s tournament was all about two specific moments:

-One, the winning goal in the championship game. High-light reel quality? Absolutely. But more to the point, he demonstrated that elite-level players have the ability to rise to the occasion in big moments. It’s why the history of pressure-laden, championship-winning goals have the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby in the photos that hang in the Hall of Fame.

-Two, listen to the comments of the kid after the game. Q: “Did you know you’re the youngest in history to win a U18, U20 and WC?”. A: “That doesn’t matter, they were all great teams”. Q: “How about your winning goal”? A: “That doesn’t really matter”, etc. But when asked about Cam Talbot, his comments glow with praise. That’s how Captains act, in those situations.

So, while we all quite rightly wait for The Draft and Free Agency, Edmonton Oilers fans should be able to sleep well tonight that they have 3 proven, world-class winners to help lead their team out of the wilderness next season. This tournament has proven that.

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And while the proof will come only when the Edmonton Oilers arrive in the post-season, results like this World Championship win and the role these three men played in it should give you tangibles to base your hopes upon.