ESPN has made their predictions for every NHL team in 2023-24 and of most importance to Edmonton, the sports network has the Oilers winning the Stanley Cup.
Sports coverage in the United States has often been accused of having a bias against Canadian professional teams. As such, ESPN‘s latest article regarding the upcoming NHL season may come as a bit of a surprise to those North of the border, particularly Oilers fans.
ESPN has made their predictions for where every NHL team will finish in 2023-24. And wouldn’t you know it, they’ve proclaimed that the Edmonton Oilers are set to win the Stanley Cup.
Unsurprisingly, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are seen as the main reason the Oilers will finally win their first Stanley Cup since 1990. As per Greg Wyshynski, the thinking is the All-World duo have reached the point of utter disgust and anger over repeatedly falling short in the playoffs.
Greg Wyshynski spoke to Draisaitl during the 2023 NHL Players Media Tour, about the urgency to finally win it all. The four-time All-Star said:
"“We’ve been at it for a while now. We’ve had some competitive, good teams over the last couple years. And it feels like we’re really close and we’re right there. I’m ready to win. I want to win.”"
Of course wanting to win is one thing; actually achieving it is another matter altogether. However, it helps that Draisaitl — as great as he undoubtedly is — has McDavid, the de facto best player in the game.
An enticing Stanley Cup Final matchup
Interestingly, Wyshynski has the Oilers facing another Canadian team in the Stanley Cup final. More specifically, the senior NHL writer is predicting the Toronto Maple Leafs will return to the final for the first time since 1967.
If true, this would be the first time two Canadian teams had competed for the Stanley Cup since 1989. On that occasion, the Calgary Flames triumphed 4-2 over the Montreal Canadiens.
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What a match-up it would be as well, with McDavid and Auston Matthews undoubtedly getting top billing. This would be the opportunity to finally put to bed the claims from Toronto sports fans, that Matthews is just as good as his rival centre in Edmonton.
Before Edmonton sports fans get too excited about all this however, it should be noted Wyshynski also picked the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup last season. Further, he readily admits his annual preseason prediction has become somewhat of a curse to whichever team he chooses.
So close to being right
In fairness to Wyshynski though, he could have so easily been proved right last season. After all, the Oilers scored the most goals in the NHL, and finished just two points off top spot in the Western Conference.
Further, the team the Oilers finished two points behind were the Vegas Golden Knights, who went on the win the cup. And as painfully as it is to recount, the Oilers had a lead in all six games versus the Knights in the second round, before ultimately falling 4-2.
The point is — as Draisaitl referenced — the Oilers are that close to finally winning the holy grail of professional hockey. Spearheaded by McDavid, they’ve never been more determined to live up to the high, but justified, expectations.
If they do, Wyshynski can finally stop referring to himself as a curse on teams. And if he’s correct about the Leafs as well, it will make the Stanley Cup win even more satisfying for Oilers fans.
Among the other Canadian teams, it should be noted Wyshynski also has the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks making the playoffs. The rest will miss out including the Canadiens, who he predicts will finish bottom of the Atlantic Division.