Edmonton, Toronto, & Buffalo: Who Has It the Worst?
As the playoff race has already begun and the points in the standings have become all the more valuable, non-playoff contenders – especially the Oilers, Leafs, and Sabres – have all found themselves in a very familiar position. It’s just another season of hockey Hell, literally, for their fans watching their beloved teams lose game after game.
For those fan bases, it’s no question that they’re long tired of losing but at the same time they’re used to it. All three of those teams have tried almost everything. All three have replaced head coach after head coach. The Buffalo Sabres have already cleaned out their old front office and put in place new staffers, especially the GM. Neither Edmonton nor Toronto have done that.
As frustrated as fans of those three teams are, we all know that only one of them is going to win the NHL Draft lottery later this off-season and getting prized young prospect Connor McDavid. The question is… who has it the worst and who actually deserves him?
We start off with Edmonton. Honestly, Edmonton’s problem isn’t just their players. Yes, there are the few who do have the heart and desire to play and win, but it starts with the way the team is handled. Gone are the days of Wayne Gretzky when he took the Oilers to three Stanley Cup Championships. He’s long retired and that’s that. This team hasn’t gone to the playoffs since the ’05-’06 season when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Final.
They’re a young group of players, and they’re undeniably talented offensively. Unfortunately, they’re just talented in that area. In sports, offense wins games. Defense wins championships. They don’t have a very good defensive game at all, and it shows in their overall team play.
That’s not all. There’s obviously something wrong with the way they’re training their young players as well. I personally don’t know what it is. It may be the system, the way the players are being coached. In fact, for right now, that seems to be the most valid explanation I can come up with. They may be in the hunt for McDavid, but if the Oilers’ management doesn’t change soon drafting another first overall still isn’t going to solve any of their problems.
Toronto Maple Leafs
For Toronto, it’s basically the same thing. Only, the players here are a little more at fault. The last time the Leafs were in the playoffs wasn’t actually that long ago. They were matched up against the Boston Bruins in 2013 and actually put up one hell of a fight, only to be ousted in a dramatic Game 7 finish.
You’d think they’d find a way to build on that progress instead of wasting it all away, right?
Well, unfortunately two years later that still hasn’t been the case. As a matter of fact, the Toronto Maple Leafs are back to their old ways and – even worse – on an 11-game losing streak closing in on a new franchise record. That ain’t good.
The players, especially Phil Kessel, have been on the hot seat. Hell, he’s even been called “uncoachable”, along with captain Dion Phaneuf. Of course, you can also argue that the Toronto media along with former head coach Ron Wilson have been nothing but horrible and intentionally driving Kessel out of town, but let’s face it, there’s obviously something going on.
Theatrics aside, would it matter if the Leafs got Connor McDavid or anyone else in the top three draft picks of the first round? I think it would. Unless there’s a complete overhaul either at or before the March trade deadline and over the off-season, though, he won’t have much of an impact. The Leafs’ front office has to solve the drama with the players, weed out the ones who’ll perhaps fair better on another team and leave the ones who deserve ice time to stay put.
Change doesn’t happen over night, so it’ll be interesting to see what he and the rest of the front office decide to do with the players.
The Buffalo Sabres are also a possibility. Yes, they were called out by their head coach Ted Nolan last October for playing like ‘a pee-wee team’. However, unlike the guys in Edmonton, I think the people at the front office really know what they’re doing.
Do they really need McDavid? Honestly, no. What they need is leadership throughout the entire group of guys, and right now they’re not delivering at all. If they stock anymore on really good young high talented, it’ll be wasted. Sam Reinhart was a pick last year who was highly touted to try and turn their organization around, but right now he’s back where he came from: in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice.
That said, if there’s any team who could use a draft lottery win this off-season, it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs. They need a complete overhaul of their roster. They need guys who compete hard and give it their all, night in and night out. They also need leadership. He’s got the rare ability to make those around him better. He can lead this team back to the playoffs consistently.
While the Oilers do have it worse with the problem being organization-wide, that’s something they can’t really fix with McDavid. Like I said before, the way they are right now they’ll only end up ruining a special young draft pick.
Of course, these are my opinions from what I’ve seen so far. If you agree or disagree, feel free to comment below. Also let us know what you think in the poll: