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HomeSportsThe great Connor McDavid's last chance to win the Stanley Cup

The great Connor McDavid’s last chance to win the Stanley Cup

Date: July 18, 2024 Time: 05:32:56

The closer the final of any competition gets, the more often thoughts run through your head: “What if…?”

Now that Edmonton has reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 18 years, one begins to wonder: Will the Oilers still have a chance to win the trophy in the next 10 years? In other words, in the era of Connor McDavid.

Will McDavid himself get another chance to win the Stanley Cup?

At first glance, the question is absolutely stupid. Well, of course, since Connor is only 27 years old, there will probably still be a final ahead of him, or even more than one!

But the more you think about it, the scarier it becomes. In the first four years after the Canadian draft, Edmonton made the playoffs only once. We had to wait seven years for the first conference final. The first final is nine years old.

Can you imagine this? An absolute talent of a generation, perhaps the greatest hockey player in history since Wayne Gretzky, and in only his ninth year in the NHL, he reaches the Stanley Cup Final for the first time!

Connor McDavid with Leon Draisaitl

Photo: Zuma/TASS

And if…

The future is bleak

Even though neither McDavid nor Leon Draisaitl are leaving Edmonton, it’s unlikely the team will have much of a chance to compete for the cup. The main reason is a lot of difficult contracts.

Yes, the deals between McDavid and Draisaitl somehow cannot be considered “heavy.” It seems like a Canadian should earn over $12.5 million a year and a German should earn over $8.5 million a year. Between them, they only consume a quarter of the salary cap space. But Draisaitl’s contract expires after the 2024/2025 season, McDavid’s, a year later. And the “oil workers” will definitely have to significantly increase the salaries of this couple. Edmonton would be nowhere without them.

Through the end of the 2029-2030 season, the Oilers will have to pay $9.25 million to defenseman Darnell Nurse, who barely makes a quarter of that amount on the field. Three more years of contract with a salary cap of 5 million dollars for the goalkeeper Jack Campbell, 32, who has not been counted on for a long time. Two years for 34-year-old defenseman Mattias Ekholm ($6 million in salary cap space) and 32-year-old forward Evander Kane ($5.125 million), four for 31-year-old Zach Hyman ($5.5 million dollars), five for 31-year-old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ($5.125 million).

And after the current season, 10 hockey players immediately become unrestricted free agents, including the club’s sixth regular-season scorer, Adam Henrik, and ninth, Warren Voegele. The unexpectedly brilliant Dylan Holloway will become OSA and will obviously ask for a considerable sum.

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And 24-year-old Evan Bouchard, who has blossomed this season and now claims to be one of the NHL’s best defensemen, has a $3.9 million cap hit contract that will end in a year.

“Edmonton” already in the summer of 2024 will have to seriously shell out (which is unlikely to happen due to the small space under the salary cap: now they have just under $78 million with a cap of $83.5 million) , or bet on youth. In any case, it now seems that after the end of the playoffs the team will begin a restructuring.

And those who already have big contracts will only get older and get fewer and fewer benefits. Changing them will be a difficult task.

The near future will be very difficult and extremely confusing for both Edmonton and McDavid.

So…

Now or never

There may not be better possibilities. And this not only refers to future salary cap issues, but also to the level of play here and now. It’s not just hockey players named Connor or Leon who are pushing Edmonton to the 2024 playoffs.

Evan Bouchard has already tied the 21st century record among defensemen for most assists in a single Stanley Cup, even though the final hasn’t started yet! He is tied with 2022’s Cale Makar. Bouchard is now the third-leading scorer in the 2024 playoffs with 27 points in 18 games. He also plays excellent defense, which is rare for Edmonton hockey players.

Edmonton hockey players

Photo: AP/TASS

Nugent-Hopkins suddenly remembered when they had apparently given up on him. After a weak regular season (only 67 points, after 104 points in the 2022/2023 campaign), Ryan has already scored 6+14, including the winning goal in the series decider against Vancouver and a double in the fifth meeting with Dallas.

Hyman continued his regular season wonders. 14 goals and a total of 18 points is a great result for a forward. Zach is by far the best sniper in the game.

Stuart Skinner also gives an excellent performance. The goalkeeper, who last season seemed to emerge from nowhere and faded quickly, is showing in the current playoffs that he is prepared to be number one. Yes, there are some mistakes, but at the right moment the Canadian comes out ahead. He confirmed it in the sixth game of the series against Dallas. Additionally, Skinner ranks sixth in save percentage in the current playoffs (among goaltenders who have played at least 10 games): 89.7; in terms of reliability coefficient, fifth (2.50; also among goalkeepers who have played at least 10 games).

And, of course, one cannot ignore the play of the main stars – McDavid and Draisaitl. They are the top scorers in the playoffs right now. This does not mean that the current draw is going perfect for both of them. They managed to shut down Connor in several matches, but that’s when Leon caught fire. And vice versa.

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McDavid himself scored only five goals in these playoffs. But he proves to be a true leader. The Canadian distributes passes (he already has 26 assists in just 18 games), gets involved in the most necessary moments and truly leads Edmonton. In the first game of the conference finals, Connor scored the winning goal in overtime and in the final he opened the scoring with a brilliant solo pass. And then he also assisted on the decisive goal.

Draisaitl scored only four points in the series with Dallas, but gave his opinion in the earlier rounds when McD remained silent. 24 points with 12 games left in the conference final is a very solid result. Many hockey players don’t score that much in an entire game.

But the main thing is that McDavid and Draisaitl now have reliable partners who can contribute, even when the main stars remain silent. In many ways, this is what Edmonton lacked during the Connor era to achieve success. More often than not, McDavid was left alone, at best with Draisaitl. But it is almost impossible to win the cup together. And so it was from year to year…

Now they are not alone. For the first time in nine years.

Will it happen again that the rest of Edmonton’s players can perform well in the playoffs? It’s hard to believe, given past experience, as well as future salary cap issues and the inevitable aging and regression of most of the club’s hockey players.

***

The conditions were ideal for the Oilers to take the Stanley Cup. Yes, on the other side there will be a Florida no less attractive and Sergei Bobrovsky no less deserving of his trophy.

Connor McDavid with Leon Draisaitl

Photo: AP/TASS

But it looks like Connor McDavid won’t have a better chance to win his Stanley Cup. The Canadian is in top form and is a true leader of the team. Draisaitl is also at its peak. The rest of Edmonton’s players don’t take a backseat and make important contributions.

And the “oil workers” have a difficult and probably bleak future ahead of them.

So this could be McDavid’s last chance. If he doesn’t take the trophy, it will be one of the saddest stories in all of NHL history.

But the grown-ups shouldn’t go without drinks, right?

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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