The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night, as they continue to prove how to build a team around two superstars.
The Edmonton Oilers were without Connor McDavid when they faced the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, so the outcome could have been different with the league’s best player in the line-up, but these two teams are going in opposite directions.
Winning an MVP, or Hart Trophy (as they call it in hockey), doesn’t always mean a team will have success, as shown by the Edmonton Oilers. The past two MVP’s have been Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, yet the team is still in shambles.
The only sports where the MVP have true impacts on every play is in the NFL and NBA, while it doesn’t quite matter as much in the NHL. Sure, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have both won the award and have helped their team win Stanley Cup’s, but they always needed help around them in order for their team to finally have success. Hockey is a team game where the best players usually only play for about a third of the time.
The Oilers have won two games since December 1st and have built a terrible team around McDavid and Draisaitl. You could really see the anger in Draisaitl’s face last night when Alex Kerfoot scored an empty-netter to seal the game.
In his head, he was essentially saying “Get me the **** out of here!”
Toronto Maple Leafs and Oilers Are Going In Opposite Directions
When you have McDavid and Draisaitl, who score at a pace better than anyone else in the league, you don’t need to sign Zach Hyman to a $5.5M contract or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a $5.125M deal. Instead you need to focus that money on strengthening goaltending and defense.
With that logic, the Oilers spent $13.25M on Duncan Keith, Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie. Keith was amazing five years ago, while Ceci and Barrie are not good defensively. That’s terrible cap-management, not to mention that Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith are making a combined $6.7M.
For $21M ($1M more), the Leafs have T.J. Brodie, Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, Petr Mrazek and Jack Campbell all locked up, who are all better options than Edmonton’s. Mrazek is the back-up in Toronto, and would instantly be the starter for the Oilers, while Brodie, Rielly and Muzzin would all slide ahead of Keith, Ceci and Barrie in their depth chart.
Meanwhile, the Oilers have $10.6M in Hyman and Nugent-Hopkins, while the Leafs have William Nylander, Alex Kerfoot and Michael Bunting for $11.35M.
Hmm, I wonder who’d you’d rather have?
Everyone continues to harp on the Leafs because they haven’t had playoff success and that’s valid. When you haven’t won a round since 2004, it’s easy to get criticized. However, the Oilers aren’t far off.
They made the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2005-06 season, but since then, they haven’t done anything either. They’ve missed the playoffs in 12 of the last 15 seasons and have only advanced past the first round once.
This is McDavid’s seventh season and he’s only made the playoffs twice. Three times if you count the “play-in year.”
The Oilers are wasting McDavid’s prime and it’s terrible to watch. The Leafs have continued to get unlucky when they’ve reached the playoffs, but at least they’ve actually made the playoffs in every season that Auston Matthews has been here (*lost in the “play-in” round).
If you thought being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan was tough, just try being an Edmonton Oilers fan right now. Even though they have the best two players in the NHL, the playoffs aren’t guaranteed and they’re not going anywhere, unless they somehow get a number-one goaltender and four better defenseman.