Irrational Exuberance? Confidence building that Edmonton Oilers will win the Stanley Cup

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How far will the Edmonton Oilers go in the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs.

On our latest Cult of Hockey poll, with voting still underway, more than 80 per cent of Oilers fans think the team will again make the Final Four of the NHL playoffs, and more than half see the team advancing to the Cup finals.

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Almost 30 per cent think the team will win the Stanley Cup this year.

Is this utterly irrational exuberance? How far out of line are the Oilers with the sports books, for example? has the Oilers as eighth most likely team to win the Cup, with only Colorado in the Western Conference ranked ahead of them. In other words, this betting company sees the Oil as a good bet to make the Final Four and not a bad bet to make the Stanley Cup final, though not such a good bet to win it.

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Article content also has the Oilers ranked eighth, with Colorado and Vegas ahead in the West.

Power Rankings Guru has the Oilers ranked ninth, with Colorado and Vegas ahead.

But is more bullish on the Oilers. It gives the Oilers the second highest chance of any NHL team of winning the Cup, 12.6 per cent after Carolina at 15.7 per cent. It gives Colorado only a 2.2 per cent chance of winning the Cup.

What does it means that Oilers fans are so confident? It means they’re good fans and typical fans. Hockey is all about hope, and in the past few months the Oilers have given us plenty of reason to hope.

I’m in that group that voted the Oilers will win the Cup this year. Take my optimism with a grain of salt, as I predicted last year after the Oilers wiped out Calgary that they would get by Calgary and win the Cup. I just couldn’t see any team stopping Connor McDavid now that he’d gone Super Nova. In other words, I hadn’t studied the opposition Colorado Avs, with Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Devon Toews, closely enough.

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Can Edmonton get by the Avs and other Western Conference teams this year? A lot of this will come down to which team can stay the most healthy in the first rounds of the playoffs. Last year, as much as anything, Edmonton was done in against Colorado because Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse could only give about 50 per cent of what they had due to injury.

But here are a few reasons why I’m bullish on the Oilers.

    • Connor McDavid is playing the best two-way hockey of his career. He’s never been more determined, more prepared, more ready to lead.
    • Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse look healthy again, both playing the most fast-paced hockey we’ve seen from them since they got injured last spring.
    • Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zack Hyman are all outstanding two-way players, giving the two Oilers superstars excellent support.
    • For the first time in years, Edmonton has the makings of a solid checking line with Nick Bjugstad and Ryan McLeod possibilities at centre, Mattias Janmark, Derek Ryan, Warren Foegele and Kailer Yamamoto all possibilities on the wing. One of Foegele or Yamamoto will play on a top line, and the players who don’t make the third line will round out the fourth line with Klim Kostin, Devin Shore and Dylan Holloway.
    • The Oilers are as tough as they’ve been since Chris Pronger was in town. Evander Kane is back and now he’s got to lead the swagger brigade, and this time he’s got some henchmen in Kostin and Vincent Desharnais.
    • Edmonton’s PK should trend up with the addition of Mattias Ekholm and Desharnais.
    • The team’s defence has been greatly bolstered by Ekholm, who gives them the solid veteran presence they’ve lacked with Duncan Keith’s retirement, as well as a player who can hold his own in all situations. Edmonton’s Top 4 of Ekholm, Nurse, Evan Bouchard and Cody Ceci is as strong as we’ve seen since the 2017 playoffs when Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell were all healthy and patrolling the blueline. It’s a Top 4 that compares even with the 2006 group of Chris Pronger, Jaroslav Spacek, Jason Smith and Steve Staios. There’s no highest end No. 1 d-man like Pronger, but Nurse and Ekholm are no slouches.
    • The biggest question mark, other than player health, is in net, where Stuart Skinner has been good, but Jack Campbell has struggled pretty much all year. But a team can ride one hot goalie a long way in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Skinner looks like he’s ready for the test.

In the calendar year of 2023, Edmonton has a .697 points percentage, tied for fifth best in the NHL, and behind only Los Angeles at .710 in the West. The Oilers appear to be hitting top gear at the right moment.

I like their chances. I’m not going to bet, I never do, and I certainly would not advise on anyone on how to bet real dollars.

But I can’t see a bet against Connor McDavid and these Oilers in the coming playoffs as a smart one.

McDavid is ready to win big. So are these Oilers.


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