Well it's been quite the week in Oil Country. Exactly one week ago, morale was about as low as it's ever been at the end of a season. The Oilers finished 28th overall, and while in previous years fans had been dissapointed, the draft was still a chance to look optimistically at the future. This year, even though this draft has been called one of the deepest drafts of the last decade, Oiler fans were still apathetic of what potential future players would arrive.
Until we got our golden ticket.
Until fans realized that McDavid was coming.
At that moment fans started jumping to their own conclusions; on what coaches, free agents, potential trade targets would want to come to Edmonton, to get the chance to work with a generational talent like Connor McDavid. It's the type of armchair GM talk that while fun, never usually amounts to anything.
Fast forward a couple days to Nicholson's press conference. He used broad generalizations about the team. He talked about loyalty which I think raised a collective, "here we go again." However I found it strange at the time on how Lowe or MacTavish weren't mentioned. Around the same time of this interview, reports started coming out that the Oilers had reached out to Todd McLellan for a coaching position. Optimism started to build in the fans again.
Reports came in that former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had met with Nicholson, potentially for a hockey ops job. That blew up today with a press conference, announcing Kevin Lowe and Craig Mactavish out stage left, enter Peter Chiarelli as the new President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. Really what I'm getting at is this...
Would any of this have happened without McDavid?
Yes the 2014-2015 was the worst season ever, resulting in the fewest wins of any season. At his year end press conference MacT used words such as "developmental and optimism" to describe his plans for the future. Those have been replaced with "a measured approach." Management seems to have been fine to ride in obscurity and irrelevance, probably drafting Strome or Hanifin. But with McDavid, the eyes of the NHL have become locked in on Edmonton.
Bottom line, this summer just got a whole lot more interesting for Oiler fans. Optimism hasn't been this high in years and now there looks to be a much stronger foundation for those hopes.
Is it time for training camp yet?