Connor McDavid, who gathered the Edmonton Oilers together before the official start of training camp this month, says his teammates are raring to go after a disappointing playoff exit last season.
“I think it says a lot about where our group is at, everybody is dialed in, everybody is super motivated, everybody is determined, and everybody is in it together,” McDavid told NHL.com’s Derek Van Diest.
He added: “I think that’s kind of the message I’ve been feeling just with guys wanting to come back and make sure we’re all together for a couple of weeks before camp.”
The Oilers were one of the league’s best teams for the second half of the 2022-23 campaign, but they were eliminated by the eventual champion, the Vegas Golden Knights, in the second round of the playoffs. It was a step back for Edmonton after reaching the Western Conference Final in 2022.
McDavid acknowledged there were tiny margins that cost the Oilers the series.
“Looking back, we’re sitting there in Game 5, five minutes left in the second and in a real good place – on the road and up by a goal,” he told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. “Feeling good about ourselves. And you find a way to be down two (goals) heading into the third period.
“It’s a collection of mistakes throughout the series that add up to a series loss – something that we’ll fix throughout the course of the year.”
Leon Draisaitl, who lit up the playoffs with 13 goals in 12 games, echoed his captain’s sentiments about the Oilers being ready to take the next step this coming season.
“We’re determined, you can see in the fact that everyone is here working hard and trying to get things going early,” he said. “Obviously there is one goal here, and whether it pans out this way we’ll see, but one thing is guaranteed, is that we’re going to do everything in our power to achieve that goal and get to that point.”
Salary-cap restraints limited the Oilers from an overly active summer. The club’s offseason was highlighted by the signing of forward Connor Brown and a new deal for burgeoning star defenseman Evan Bouchard.
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