by Watson Scott Swail
Last night the Edmonton Oilers dismantled the high-flying Washington Capitals in the Alberta capital 4-1. Powered in part by Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers are sitting on top of the entire Western Conference with only one loss in 7 starts. As impressive is their goals for vs. against: a + 10, surpassed only by Montreal at + 14. The Oilers have also scored more goals than any other team in the league.
The Oilers have been a poorly-playing team for several years, light years from their Stanley Cup era in the 1980s. The big plus factor here is the draft options Edmonton has had over the decade. Since 2010, the Oilers have had four Number One draft picks in the NHL draft. In 2010 it was Taylor Hall, followed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011, Nail Yakupov in 2012, and Connor McDavid in 2015. Hall was traded this summer to the New York Islanders in exchange for a top defenseman in the name of Adam Larsson. In addition, the Oilers also drafted high-valued finish winger Jesse Puljujarvi in June who is already having an impact. Adding insult to injury, Jordan Eberle was drafted in 2008.
All tolled, the Oilers have had a unique advantage compared to any team in NHL history. And until this year, the draft picks were not making a huge impact in the Oilers success, with perhaps the exception of McDavid, who has been something else right out of the box.
This year it seems that everything is coming to fruition for the Oilers. In games this season, they are taking the play to the opposition team in almost every period of every game. This is a fast, talented team that, thus far, is showing that it can make a serious play not only for the playoffs, but for a Stanley Cup berth. It has been a 10-year playoff drought by the Oilers, but this year should break the spell.
This team is fun to watch. Stay tuned.