In a cruel twist of fate, the eagerly awaited on-ice ballet between Connor Bedard and Connor McDavid at the storied United Center must be postponed. A fractured jaw, a fateful souvenir from a bout in New Jersey, has left Bedard sidelined, much to the chagrin of the Chicago faithful. They had circled the calendar, anticipating a preview of what could be if Chicago were to etch its name onto the roster of teams boasting a talent akin to Edmonton’s linchpin.
The Oilers, led by the scintillating McDavid, have long danced along the edge of greatness, their potential oft-discussed in hushed, reverent tones. Yet the elusive Stanley Cup remains just that, a shimmer on the horizon, taunting a team laden with talent, yet to summit hockey’s highest peak. A situation mirrored, albeit less flatteringly, by their Albertan neighbors, the Calgary Flames. There’s a shared sigh in the province, a question lingering in the air—when will promise translate to triumph?
Contrarily, Chicago’s embrace of Tankathon.com/NHL has become all too familiar, a recurrent theme for a franchise striving to reinvent itself, to find a generational talent around whom to build, much like Edmonton did with McDavid.
The Oilers’ blueprint is nothing short of an architect’s dream, their top six a tapestry woven from high draft acquisitions. Leon Draisaitl came on board as the third pick in 2014, flanked by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the prime choice of 2011. Ryan McLeod joined the fold in the second round of 2018, forming a formidable selection that set the stage for trades and free agency to garnish the Oilers’ offensive lines.
One cannot overlook the astute capture of Zach Hyman, whose 25 goals lead the team while sporting a cap hit that redefines bargain in an inflated market. And let’s not overlook the diligent crafting of the back end, with Darnell Nurse and Evan Bouchard scooped up in their respective first rounds, complemented by Ekholm and the savvy signing of Cody Ceci. This is not mentioning the prescient pick of netminder Stuart Sinker in the third round of 2017.
The Oilers deftly navigated the salary cap’s confines, rounding their roster with calculated risks and free-agent coups—Evander Kane being a case in point. It’s a testament to patient and perceptive team-building.
Such a foundation serves as a blueprint for Chicago’s aspirations with Bedard. For though temptation tugs at the hem of management, beckoning them toward the alluring shortcut of free agency and marquee trades, the Blackhawks understand: enduring success is not a coup de main but a labor of love, a steady climb. It’s a lesson learned to the sound of crickets, not fanfares, a lesson Edmonton has taken to heart, with dividends now close enough to touch.
Patience has kept the Oilers aloft atop the Pacific Division, and the dues in defeat have been paid. McDavid, Draisaitl, and the constellation around them eye the Cup with justified hunger. Chicago watches, nods, and whispers, ‘Soon’, with Bedard in their stargazing sights, poised for a future where history might just repeat itself.