Lately, the Edmonton Oilers have almost become a cautionary tale about the dangers of fully embracing a complete rebuild. They got the first overall pick from 2010 through 2012 and that hasn’t been enough to propel them into contention for a playoff spot.
Edmonton Oilers head amateur scout Stu MacGregor admitted that the team needs to “build our prospect base and make some strides.” But why hasn’t that already happened to the point where we’ve seen tangible results?
“Keep in mind our best players, and the players we rely upon, are still only 21, 22, 23 years old, so some of those players are still learning the NHL,” MacGregor said, per NHL.com.
As we recently discussed though, the NHL’s a young man’s game. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were just 22 when they first led the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were 21 and 22 respectively at the time of the Penguins’ latest championship.
You could argue that the Oilers don’t have a Kane, Toews, Malkin, or Crosby, but their problem is more fundamental than that. Taylor Hall has established himself as a great first-line forward at this point while Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have also proven to be valuable contributors. Their young talent can and likely will do more as time goes on, but their not what’s holding them back to begin with. The issue is that unlike recent championship teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago, the Oilers don’t have a strong group built around their young talent.
So while the Oilers have another high draft pick to work with, it will be more interesting to see what, if they make any major adjustments through the trade or free agent markets to try and make this team competitive.