NHL Week in Review (November 26- December 2)

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Before the season began there was a lot of excitement in two cities where things were looking up for the first time in a long time.

In a place called The City of Champions the Stanley Cup has not made a trip in a long time and during that period the team representing the city has been the picture of dysfunction.

The Edmonton Oilers last raised the Stanley Cup in 1990 completing one of the most dominant periods in NHL history winning five Cups in seven years.

Then the dysfunction started as the Oilers sank to the bottom of the league and most recently were considered one of the worst managed teams in history.

They continued to sit at the bottom of the league and received top picks for their issues but despite the talent, they gathered they could never find their way out of the basement.

That was until they won the biggest draft lottery since Sidney Crosby and had the chance to select Connor McDavid in the NHL Draft.

McDavid was built as a once in a generation type of player and from his debut in the league, he proved all of the pundits right.

He was great from the first season on but his first year resulted in a major injury that kept him off of the ice for most of his rookie year.

His second season was slightly different though as McDavid helped the Oilers into the playoffs and set the hopes high.

Some might say a little too high as many had them winning the Stanley Cup this season although at the very least they looked like a legitimate playoff team.

The reality has been a lot different though as the Oilers have struggled the entire season and have never been able to gain that momentum that they had last year.

It has been a struggle this year and the excitement that fans had about the new season disappeared quickly.

Things have been going downhill and heading into the final month of 2017 the Oilers are looking far from a playoff team.

A big issue for them has been the one issue that many saw as their goaltending has never really been spectacular.

It was thought that they were good enough to overcome their issues but Cam Talbot wasn’t overly great and now they are looking to Laurent Brossoit after Talbot was placed on the injured reserve.

It just hasn’t worked for the Oilers this year and they are quickly running out of time to turn things around.

Things are not that way on the other side of the country as Toronto was in a very similar position as the Oilers.

The Maple Leafs had not sat at the top of the league since 1949 with the longest Stanley Cup drought in the league.

They have been consistently inconsistent putting together terrible teams and teams that seemed great but could never get the job done.

Much like the Oilers, the Leafs took advantage of winning a big draft lottery where they had the chance to select Auston Mathews.

Mathews came around at the right time and joined up with other promising prospects like William Nylander and Mitch Marner.

All of these great young players came together with a few key additions last year to make the playoffs breaking a long streak of missing out.hockey-sidebar

Once again the Leafs were in the same boat as the Oilers with a lot of people saying that they could be a great team.

This time it was a little more tempered though, although that seems strange with the Leafs playing in the biggest media market in the NHL.

People believed that they were headed for the playoffs again this year but not the Stanley Cup like they did the Oilers.

That is where their stories are separated and they continue to be separated as the season moves on.

The Leafs have been just about as expected this year as they have been a good team but not the best team.

They have had their growing pains and their young talent has struggled at moments but they continue to find ways to win and stay right at the top of the Atlantic Division.

For all of the hype with these two teams, it seems like the end of their seasons are going to be very different.

There was a lot of talk about these two you teams ushering in a new era in the NHL where the young guns were set to take over.

It was supposed to be the final blow in the youth movement but that blow might have to wait as only one of the teams seems headed to the playoff this year.

Even then, both of these teams are still leading the charge it just might take a little longer than was originally expected.

 

Overtime

Coastal Exchange

Another big trade took over this week as teams are not waiting of the trade deadline anymore. This week it was Anaheim and New Jersey involved as the Ducks sent defenceman Sami Vatanen to New Jersey in exchange for Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandesi. Unlike most trades, the general thought on this one is that both teams came out on top. The Ducks got the scoring help they needed with Henrique while the Devils got the defence help they needed with the veteran Vatanen.

No Choice in the End

Retiring is never an easy decision for any player no matter how long they have been in the league. For some, it is more of a forced exit with their skills just simply not warranting a contract from any team in the league. Others get to choose their own time to leave making that tough decision just before their skills decline. Derek Dorsett had neither as he was forced out due to an injury at only the age of 30. The Vancouver Canucks announced this week that he would not be returning to their roster due to a neck injury that will end his career.

No Ban for Russia

The Olympics continue to creep up with the hockey world asking the big questions about how every team will look when the hockey tournament begins. Many of these teams got a little bit of relief this week when the IOC announced that they weren’t going to fully ban the Russian Federation from the game after a massive steroid investigation revealed a state-run doping program. The IOC has banned a number of teams but will not ban Russia entirely taking away the KHL’s threat of banning their players from participating and leaving a lot of teams with their full rosters.

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