Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl

Getty Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl

The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Florida Panthers 2-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and that fateful development might have marked the end of an era in Canada.

In the eyes of Lyle Fitzsimmons of Bleacher Report, writing a post-mortem column about the Oilers’ failure to win the 2024 Stanley Cup, the Connor McDavidLeon Draisaitl era has its days numbered.

“It’ll feel more like rebranding than retooling for the Oilers next winter (or sooner) when they come to grips with (Draisaitl) imminent exit and try to recoup pennies on the dollar in return, effectively ending the most maddening era in franchise history,” Fitzsimmons wrote.

According to Fitzsimmons, what took place on June 24 as the Panthers defeated the Oilers and put an end to their crazy comeback from a 0-3 deficit “will never happen again.”

“This is the last time the sun will rise above Edmonton on the morning after the city’s beloved NHL team—fueled by the helmeted version of Batman and Robin, aka Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl—has been eliminated from the playoffs,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “We can definitively say here, though, that there won’t be a seventh.

“Boy Wonder” (Draisaitl) won’t be there.”

Oilers Fall Short in Stanley Cup Final. What’s Next?

The Panthers avoided a historic collapse by securing their first Stanley Cup in franchise history on Monday, June 24, beating Edmonton 2-1 in Game 7.

The Oilers, led by McDavid and Draisaitl, fought back after being down 3-0 in the series but ultimately fell short in another disappointing season that ended without a Cup. It’s the ninth time that has happened in Edmonton since McDavid and Draisaitl joined the franchise and played together.

The McDavid-Draisaitl partnership, which had been pivotal throughout the playoffs, struggled in the final two games.

McDavid finished the 2024 postseason with the most points and most assists among competing players… but he went pointless in the final two games of the Final.

Draisaitl recorded just 3 assists in the seven games against the Panthers and extended his goal drought to nine games, dating back to Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against Dallas.

All of the above, paired with the couple’s humongous contracts and pending extensions before they reach free agency, paint an ominous future for the Oilers if they want to retain the two playmakers. Either Edmonton accepts them for what they are and pays for what they have done and can do, or they decide to move on.

McDavid’s contract carries an annual cap hit of $12.5 million and has two more years remaining on it. Draisaitl comes with a much more palatable $8.5 million cap hit but his contract expires on July 1, 2025, effectively making him an unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t sign an extension.

Oilers Entering Dangerous Roster-Building Territory

With Draisaitl entering the final year of his contract next season and McDavid having only two years left, speculation about their future in Edmonton has intensified.

First and logically, there are realistic concerns that the Oilers may face difficulties retaining both superstars, especially with the team’s aging core and tight salary cap situation.

The Oilers enter the offseason with $10 million of cap space but only 14 players under contract in their active roster. Assuming Draisaitl and McDavid get a few more million in their upcoming contract extensions, it’s fair to assume those raises would take most of that space for them alone.

On top of that, it’s worth noting that Edmonton has one of the oldest rosters in the NHL, with key players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Hyman, Evander Kane, and Mattias Ekholm all on the wrong side of 30.

Edmonton Already Working on Securing Superstar Core?

Despite all the uncertainties and concerns listed above, reports emerged midway through the finals speaking of the Oilers’ brass putting on the necessary work to sign the trio of Evan Bouchard, McDavid, and Draisaitl to hefty contract extensions.

Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff revealed this information during a conversation with Bob Stauffer on the “Oilers Now” podcast on June 14. Seravalli reported the Oilers are preparing an extension package amounting to a combined $40 million annually to offer to the three core members of the team.

Seravalli says Oilers have begun contract talks with Draisaitl, McDavid is committed to staying in Edmonton #LetsGoOilers

“My point is, two years from now when the Oilers take the ice, those three same guys are going to add up to $40 million bucks,” Seravalli said.

“The Oilers need to make hay right now because they’ve got McDavid, Draisaitl and Bouchard only adding up to $25 million. The next iteration of this when everyone is locked up, because to me it’s when but not if…” said Seravalli.

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