McDavid sets Oilers’ bar high: ‘Cup or bust for this group’


Connor McDavid did not mince words in the Edmonton Oilers’ exit press conference on Tuesday, admitting that anything short of Stanley Cup glory is considered a failure for the Alberta team.

“It’s Cup or bust for this group,” the superstar told the assembled media. “Where everyone [on the Oilers] is at in their career, that’s the expectation.”

The Oilers met the media two days after having their season ended at home against the Vegas Golden Knights, who dispatched them in six games despite McDavid’s 10-point series.

McDavid’s sentiments echo those of fans and reporters who feel the world’s best player is due for a taste of legitimate postseason success.

The fact that teammate Leon Draisaitl has also played at an MVP level for years heightens those expectations. He sat beside McDavid on Monday.

The German, who scored 13 goals in the 2023 playoffs and is third all-time in postseason scoring per game, said that attention to detail would be essential to avoiding another tumble next season.

“We have to learn to not beat ourselves,” Draisaitl said. “We’re going to beat teams with our structure and speed, but sometimes we need to find a way to lock it down.”

Draisaitl and winger Zach Hyman joined McDavid in setting Stanley Cup victory as Edmonton’s benchmark for success.

Much of Edmonton’s “win now” pressure stems from aggressive moves GM Ken Holland has made to surround his pair of Hart Trophy winners with talent.

Edmonton spends over 60% of its cap space on seven players. That is likely to remain the case through at least 2025: if Edmonton is going to win it all, it has to be with this group.

Coach Jay Woodcroft, whose contract also runs through 2025, is not going anywhere either.

Though McDavid is reeling from another postseason exit, he has a prestigious offseason to look forward to. The 26-year-old collected his fifth-Art Ross Trophy in 2022-23; he will likely win the Ted Lindsay and Hart trophies to claim a third-career clean sweep of the awards.

The Oilers’ captain scored 64 goals and 153 points during a history-making regular season but will remain laser-focused on the one piece of hardware that has eluded him.

“That empty feeling you’re left with is great fuel,” McDavid said.

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