So do you think the Edmonton Oilers will play the Stanley Cup finals home or away?
Fans are still riding the climax of their best Edmonton Oilers season since 2006, and looking at some of the summer signings will make you want to get ahead of yourself.
The Stanley Cup window and bold predictions of contender status before the puck drops in preseason are great for long-suffering fans, provided that sentiment doesn’t make its way into the dressing room.
By all accounts, it is not. In fact, the Oilers are putting the brakes on just about everything ahead of another trip to the Western Conference Finals and beyond.
Start at the top.
General manager Ken Holland said in a speech to teams before training camp began: “I told them that the league has 32 teams meeting today with great hopes and expectations.
“Last year is history. It means nothing. We have to play to get back in the playoffs.”
If Holland knows anything from his experience in Detroit, it’s that this season will be harder than last year.
“The team will be ready for us,” he said. I expect it to be a real dogfight to decide.Last year is history.
“(The hype) may excite the fanbase, but it has to be done all over again. Good programs do it year after year.”
The core of this team has done it twice in the last six years and learned a very valuable and painful lesson about taking everything for granted.
“I personally remember that summer[of 2017],” defenseman Darnell Nurse said. “Everybody was talking about how good a team we were. We were going to be competitors. That’s not how the sport works. I didn’t make any money.”
No, it wasn’t. Missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, and lost the first round for the second year in a row.
This time around, we have the steely resolve to prove it was no fluke.
“I need a chip on my shoulder,” said the nurse. “It was great to reach the Western Conference finals, but last year he was the only winner and we were in the losing group. It would require a lot more work than that.”
With the return of Evander Kane and the signing of goaltender Jack Campbell, many believe the Oilers are stronger than they were last year, but that’s still not the case.
Last year’s team went three rounds deep. This year’s team has yet to win a preseason game.
“I would definitely say on paper we are a better team than we were at the end of last year,” Nurse said.
“But it’s paper. The real test comes when the puck drops on the first night.”
Kane reached a multimillion-dollar settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit with the San Jose Sharks, whose contract was terminated in January, for violating COVID-19 protocols while playing for an AHL affiliate.
He had $19 million in debt over the past three years. He could prove a loss of $2.5 million in wages as he would earn his $16.5 million over his next three years in Edmonton. He also lost part of his $7 million salary when he terminated his contract last January.
“I’m glad it ended,” he said, joking that the story would make good TV.
Oilers RFA Ryan MacLeod, who has been waiting for a new contract all summer, is expected to be on the ice for the start of training Thursday.
“He underwent a physical examination and I spoke with his agent. I hope we can find a solution in the contract,” said Holland, who could not find room to complete the deal under the cap. “He’s clearly patient.”
It was hoped that the Oilers would trade off some of their salary, leaving room for the 23-year-old center to sign a two- or three-year contract, but that hasn’t happened.
“We are now at a stage where we are probably looking at a one-year contract. I love him. I think he is a top nine forward. But in the end we got to where the cap was.”
KOEK KOEK STILL OUT
Defenseman Slater Kekkek, who sat out last season to deal with personal issues, is not in camp. His agent asked Holland to release the following statement.
“Slater will be leaving the team while he continues to work on his mental health.
Dreaming of cups in September?No chance, say Edmonton Oilers
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