The Edmonton Oilers have two of the NHL’s top-scoring superstars on their roster in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Unfortunately, two elite players does not a championship roster make, as the Oilers found out with their qualification-round ouster in the 2020 postseason (on their home rink, no less).
Did GM Ken Holland surround his two elite players with enough to make them a serious Stanley Cup contender in 2020-21? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of opening night:
Big question: Can the Oilers defend at a championship level?
Last season, the Oilers had the most potent power play the NHL had seen in 40 years. They were second on the penalty kill. Special teams were not the problem. Even-strength most certainly was the problem: They were minus-10 in goal differential in the regular season, and then gave up 12 even-strength goals in four games in their qualification-round upset loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are dominant offensively and non-factors defensively. While Mikko Koskinen is a capable goalie, crease-mate Mike Smith had a minus-7.71 goals saved above average. Coach Dave Tippett’s teams used to punch above their weight defensively when he was in Arizona. This one has yet to prove it can defend well enough at 5-on-5 to contend for a championship.